Adult ADHD

Adult ADHD

You may live in a mess —chips in your desk, papers in the pantry, and the remotes are nowhere to be found.  It’s hard to know where to look when you lose your wallet or your keys.  Unfortunately, you may lose your phone routinely and have become very familiar with the “where’s my phone” app.   Even more stressful is that you may forget to pay your bills on time, and are frequently late or tardy for obligations.  Your social support tends to change over often.  You have a hard time sitting still.  Believe it or not, these are all signs of Adult ADHD.

Until recently, Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) was primarily considered a childhood disorder. However, scientists now know it often continues to occur into adulthood for about 2/3 of people who had ADHD symptoms as children.

Here are some symptoms that you may want to consider if you think you may have Adult ADHD.

Difficulties sustaining attention

Some people become bored easily, with their mind drifting to other topics during conversations. Others may read a page of a book or a newspaper and find that they don’t know what they just read.  Inattention can show up in many ways, including being easily distracted by irrelevant thoughts, events, and activities.  Some people find themselves “spacing out” and missing information in meetings or classes.  Other people make careless mistakes. As a result of such occurrences, adults with ADHD often experience inconsistencies in the quality of their work and may feel that they are not working up to their full potential at work or in school.

Adult ADHD

Difficulties with task completion

ADHD makes it hard to plan how begin and manage tasks. People with ADHD often procrastinate because trying to start a large project can feel very daunting. Wrapping up the final details of a task can also be challenging due to fading effort or interest.  It can also be hard to keep track of small details.. Adults with ADHD frequently start projects and don’t finish them because they get overwhelmed or  sidetracked by something else. They may have even have many unfinished tasks at once.

Disorganization Concerns

Busy office clerk

People with ADHD often have messy houses, offices, cars, and purses.  They lose things often. As described above, keys, cell phones, or documents can be easily misplaced. Their disorganization can also show up in the form of poor time management. They may not estimate time accurately.  As a result they may often be late in meeting deadlines or arriving to scheduled activities.


Fluctuations in attention can yield to difficulties with learning and later remembering names.  It can also make it harder to learn and retain things like directions, facts, or other information. Adults who have ADHD may also forget appointments, things they need to do, and things they have done in the recent past.


While the hyperactivity of childhood ADHD usually fades with age, adults who have ADHD may still have trouble sitting still and may find it difficult to relax. They may fidget, squirm, and talk quickly or excessively.  Sometimes, they may simply feel an internal sense of restlessness.

Intense and fluctuating emotions

Problems with emotional regulation occur with many mental health concerns.  Emotions are also linked to ADHD.  Because people with ADHD can have poor self-regulation, they may also have ups and downs with anger, frustration and sadness.  As a result, they may experience quick changes in mood, and may feel unpleasant emotions more intensely than others do.

In addition, consistent difficulty with daily tasks that require attention and organization may lead to elevated levels of stress and sometimes anxiety or depression for people with ADHD. They may often feel overwhelmed or guilty as a result of their symptoms.  It is not uncommon for them to have self-esteem concerns that result from thinking they are lazy, crazy, or stupid.

Man with watch


Impulsivity is what happens when you respond without stopping to think first.  You may interrupt others or have difficulty waiting your turn.  In, addition you may often feel impatient. Sometimes impulsivity can show up in the form of speeding or getting multiple traffic tickets, making unplanned purchases or other decisions, or saying or doing things that you later regret. In some cases, it can lead to sensation-seeking and contribute to problematic substance use or sexual decisions.  You may say things you don’t mean.  Some people report they become more angry, upset, or excited than they intended.

ADHD Symptoms as a Child

Many concerns with ADHD emerge in childhood, even in preschool years.  Many people remember being in trouble for being overly restless.  Or they may have not lived up to their academic potential.  If you had some symptoms of inattention or impulsivity before the age of 12, you are more likely to have ADHD. This is also more likely if you have a family history of ADHD.


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