Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is one of the most common neurodevelopmental disorders of childhood, and it continues to be present into adulthood.

Although prevalence is lower in adults than children based on current diagnostic rates, ADHD is typically a lifelong condition. In most cases, it doesn’t just disappear. Symptoms may become less obvious, but they are still present.

Researchers continue to look into this theory, estimating that 80% of young people will continue to have ADHD as adults. The remaining 20% will no longer meet the clinical definition of ADHD [1]. However, the structural differences in their brains likely remain. This may suggest that individuals with mild ADHD symptoms as children learn effective coping skills so that those symptoms no longer affect their daily lives.

Wondering if you or your loved one may have ADHD? Be aware of these common symptoms.

Learn more: A Guide to ADD Treatment

What Exactly Is ADHD?

It is not uncommon for adults to figure out they have ADHD once their children are diagnosed.

ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder, leading to differences in both brain activity and development. These differences affect attention and one’s ability to sit still and exhibit self-control. This can affect children at school, at home, and in their friendships. As adults, symptoms can cause issues at work, at home, and in relationships.

There are three main types of ADHD — predominately hyperactive, predominately inattentive, and combined type.

How these forms of ADHD present themselves can change throughout one’s life based on life circumstances. For example, a hyperactive child may no longer display symptoms of hyperactivity as an adult. Experts thought ADHD was a condition you could outgrow because adults would become calmer as they age. However, symptoms of impulsivity, inattention, and disorganization remained [2].

How Do I Know If I Have ADHD as an Adult?

In adults, ADHD often presents itself as impulsivity, restlessness, and inattention — but each individual is unique. Symptoms can range from mild to severe, and sometimes adults aren’t even aware they have ADHD. They just know that certain tasks are challenging. For example, you may always seem to forget social plans or work meetings. Others with ADHD may lack impulse control, which becomes obvious when you’re angry.

To be diagnosed with ADHD, symptoms need to persist, disrupting at least one area of your life. Upon reflection, you may be able to trace these symptoms back to childhood. Risk factors that increase the risk of ADHD are also important to consider [3]. These include:

  • Having blood relatives with ADHD or another mental health disorder.
  • Having a mother that drank alcohol during pregnancy.
  • Being exposed to environmental toxins as a child, including lead (found in the paint and pipes of older buildings).
  • Being born prematurely.

In adults, ADHD can be difficult to diagnose, because certain symptoms overlap with other conditions, including mood or anxiety disorders. It is also not uncommon for an individual with ADHD to showcase symptoms of other conditions, including depression, anxiety disorders, and learning disabilities.

Dive deeper into common co-occurring disorders, including ADHD and Adderall abuse. 

Top 5 Symptoms of ADHD in Adults

It’s never too late to benefit from an ADHD diagnosis and treatment. That is why you must be aware of the most common symptoms. Identifying the following symptoms can help you address the areas that are most challenging in your daily life.

1. Impulsiveness

Many individuals with ADHD act without thinking. This can lead to inappropriate conversations, interrupting others while speaking, or risky behavior.

2. Forgetfulness

Do you often forget names or dates? Do you miss work deadlines or appointments? What about your car keys and wallet — do you misplace them often? If you used to forget your homework, and now as an adult, it’s your cell phone or other commonly used items, ADHD may be to blame.

3. Disorganization

In adults, hyperactivity can turn into symptoms such as disorganization. This can make it challenging to keep track of tasks, prioritize, and arrange items in a logical order.

4. Poor Listening Skills

Do your friends and family complain that you don’t listen? This may be because of ADHD, as listening comprehension is often impaired. Effectively managing distractions plays a role here, especially in noisy, busy environments. In other cases, you may be “daydreaming” and, without intention, not hear what others say to you.

5. Poor Emotional Regulation

It’s not uncommon for adults with ADHD to have emotional outbursts. You may have a low frustration tolerance, causing you to become angry. Symptoms of anxiety and depression are also common.

Remember, symptoms of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder may be subtle.

If some or all of the symptoms above interfere with your everyday life, it’s important to seek a professional opinion [4].

Seeking Treatment for ADHD

Medication is not the only option for treating ADHD, especially as an adult.

Psychotherapy can help you learn the skills needed for you to succeed. By seeking this type of treatment, you can:

  • Improve time management skills.
  • Better cope with work or social concerns.
  • Develop strategies to better manage emotions, particularly anger.
  • Learn how to improve meaningful relationships with friends, family, and co-workers.
  • Improve your self-esteem.
  • Actively reduce impulsive behavior.
  • Develop stronger problem-solving skills.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy and family (or marital) therapy can be highly beneficial [5].

From support groups to lifestyle changes, there are many ways to reduce the symptoms of ADHD to live a more productive and higher quality of life.

Transformations Treatment Center can help you address your mental health, encouraging a brighter future!

Contact us today to learn more.

Sources:

  1. About ADHD – Overview. Retrieved from https://chadd.org/about-adhd/overview/
  2. ADHD Changes in Adulthood. Retrieved from https://chadd.org/adhd-weekly/adhd-changes-in-adulthood/
  3. Froehlich et al. Update on Environmental Risk Factors for Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3277258/
  4. Symptoms. Retrieved from https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/attention-deficit-hyperactivity-disorder-adhd/symptoms/
  5. Adult ADHD – Psychotherapy. Retrieved from https://www.camh.ca/en/professionals/treating-conditions-and-disorders/adult-adhd/adult-adhd—treatment/adult-adhd—psychotherapy
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