Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is well-known in children but less often associated with adults. However, the American Psychiatric Association estimates that 2.5% of adults live with the condition (as opposed to 8.4% of children.) Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder can manifest in a variety of symptoms that can significantly impact one’s ability to navigate a grown-up world – including career, family, and responsibility. Recognizing and diagnosing adult ADHD is therefore essential for those living with the condition so that they can seek proper treatment.
ADHD is most often associated with a lack of focus, which can also appear as being easily distracted, missing important details, or being unable to listen and comprehend what others are saying. However, there are other symptoms to look out for, which may include the following:
- Disorganization: An adult with ADHD may have problems with organization, including difficulty keeping up with and prioritizing tasks logically. Because they cannot effectively manage their time, individuals may procrastinate, be late for important events, and avoid tasks they consider “boring.”
- Relationship issues: Adult ADHD can often cause difficulty in relationships across the board, including romantic, platonic, or professional associations. Relationships can be damaged due to inattentiveness, boredom, or talking over someone else. These traits are often seen as insensitive or uncaring.
- Restlessness and anxiety: An adult with ADHD may feel as if they cannot stop moving. If something cannot be done right away, frustration or anxiety may ensue. ADHD can also cause the adult mind to replay worrisome scenarios, stoking anxiety and stress. Physical signs of restlessness may include fidgeting, tapping of the hands or feet, shifting in one’s seat, and difficulty sitting still for any length of time.
- Emotional issues: Life is challenging without mental health concerns, but those with ADHD often live with constantly fluctuating emotions. These individuals may become bored quickly and try to remedy the situation by seeking excitement. Minor frustrations are often blown out of proportion and can trigger depression and mood swings.
- Hyperfocus: While lack of focus is a symptom of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, patients may experience the opposite characteristic. Hyperfocus will cause the person to become so engrossed in a task that they become oblivious to anything else happening around them, losing track of time and damaging relationships.
- Forgetfulness: Everyone occasionally forgets things, but for someone with ADHD, forgetting is a way of life. This memory impairment can cause minor frustration, but it can also be dangerous – such as if one often forgets to turn off the stove. Forgetfulness is often confused with carelessness or lack of intelligence.
- Impulsiveness: Impulsive behavior can appear in several ways, including interrupting others, being inappropriate in social settings, or acting without consideration for any potential consequences. Impulse buying, especially items that someone cannot afford, is a common sign of adult ADHD.
- Negative self-image: Adults with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder are often hypercritical of themselves and view personal difficulties as failures or underachievement.
- Little or no motivation: Some people with ADHD cannot stop moving, while others often feel unmotivated. When several of these symptoms are present (no motivation, procrastination, and no organization), an adult with ADHD will find it challenging to finish projects or focus on results.
- Physical health problems: ADHD can cause an individual to neglect their physical health, whether through lack of exercise or an imbalanced or unhealthy diet. Fatigue and lack of sleep are common as well.
While those with mild ADHD may be able to conquer challenges through discipline, a written plan, or help from a professional coach or counselor – others may need additional assistance. If you are concerned that you or a loved one is living with adult ADHD, call Denise Schonwald today. Denise is a compassionate mental health counselor and coach who is nationally certified to help clients with their mental health concerns.