Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder isn’t just a childhood issue. You can take steps to prevent adult ADHD after learning the signs and symptoms.
Understanding ADHD in Adults
Managing life can be challenging for anyone, but if you are consistently late, disorganized, forgetful, or overburdened by your obligations, you may have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Adults with ADHD experience a wide range of frustrating symptoms, which can hamper everything from their relationships to their careers.
The exact cause of ADHD remains a mystery, but scientists believe a combination of genes, environment, and slight variations in brain structure may be responsible. There is a high probability that at least some of your childhood ADHD or ADD symptoms have continued into adulthood if you were diagnosed with it as a child. However, adults can have ADHD even if they weren’t diagnosed as children.
Often, ADHD is not recognized in childhood. In the past, this was particularly prevalent when few people knew about it. You may have been mislabeled as a dreamer, a goof-off, a slacker, a troublemaker, or just a bad student by your family, teachers, or others instead of being recognized and identified. As a grownup, you may run into problems due to the increased responsibilities you have as opposed to compensating for the symptoms of ADHD when you were young.
As you work toward your career, raise a family, and run a household, you will experience increasing pressure on your organizational skills or your abilities to focus and remain calm. For anyone, but especially for someone with ADHD, this can be a challenge.
It can cause other issues like anxiety and depression in women and men that will need to be addressed alongside.
The good news is that attention deficit disorder can be overcome, no matter how overwhelming it seems. Adult ADHD is manageable with education, support, and a bit of creativity- and some of its weaknesses can be turned into strengths. No matter your age, you can overcome adult ADHD and achieve your goals.
Facts & Myths About Adult Attention Deficit Disorder
Myth: People with ADHD just lack willpower. If they were really motivated, people with ADHD could focus well on any task that interests them.
Fact: ADHD seems to be a problem with willpower, but it isn’t. Essentially, it’s a chemical issue in the brain’s management systems.
Myth: People with ADHD cannot pay attention.
Fact: Those with ADHD often enjoy concentrating on activities that they like. However, when the task at hand is boring or repetitive, they cannot maintain focus no matter how hard they try.
Myth: ADHD symptoms are present in everyone, and anyone with sufficient intelligence can overcome them.
Fact: All levels of intelligence are affected by ADHD. Even though everyone sometimes experiences symptoms of ADHD, only those who suffer chronic impairment from these symptoms qualify for a diagnosis.
Myth: An individual with ADHD cannot also suffer from depression, anxiety, or other mental health issues.
Fact: The chances of someone with ADHD having another psychiatric or learning disorder are six times higher than for the average person. It is common for ADHD to overlap with other disorders.
Myth: Adults cannot have ADHD or ADD unless they were diagnosed as children.
Fact: There are many adults who have suffered from undiagnosed ADHD symptoms all their lives. The reason they haven’t received help is that they believed their chronic difficulties were caused by other impairments that aren’t responsive to usual treatments.
Adult ADHD Symptoms and Signs
There is often a difference between a child’s attention deficit disorder and an adult’s – and each individual’s symptoms will vary. Adult ADHD symptoms can be categorized into the following categories. Find out what areas you struggle with. The best way to deal with problematic symptoms is to identify them and implement strategies to deal with them.
Concentration And Focus Problems
Often, “attention deficit” is misinterpreted. ADHD adults can focus on stimulating tasks but have trouble focusing on mundane ones. There is a chance even irrelevant sounds or sights can make you easily distracted, jump from one activity to another, or get bored easily. Sometimes these symptoms are overlooked because they seem less disruptive than hyperactivity and impulsivity associated with ADHD-but they can be equally problematic:
- Easy distraction by external events or low-priority activities.
- It is difficult to follow just one thought when there are so many running simultaneously.
- When reading or listening to others, it is difficult to pay attention or focus.
- Without realizing it, frequently wanders off into daydreams or “zoning out” during a conversation.
- Having difficulty completing simple tasks.
- Incomplete or incorrect work caused by overlooking details.
- Inability to remember conversations or follow directions due to poor listening skills.
- Finding new stimulating experiences quickly after getting bored.
On The Flip Side: Hyperfocus
It’s probably no secret that people with ADHD find it hard to concentrate on tasks that don’t interest them. But you may not be aware of the other side of the coin: the tendency to become absorbed in enjoyable, stimulating tasks. It is called hyperfocus because of its paradoxical nature.
As a coping mechanism for distractions, hyperfocus is a way to tune out the chaos. There can be times when it is so strong that you lose track of everything that is going on around you. As an example, you might lose track of time and neglect your responsibilities due to being absorbed in a book, TV show, or computer. When channeled into productive activities, hyperfocus can be an asset, but if left unchecked, it can also cause problems at work and in relationships.
The Tendency To Be Disorganized And Forgetful
Life can seem chaotic and out of control when you have adult ADHD. It is extremely difficult to stay organized, prioritize your to-do list, keep track of tasks and responsibilities, and manage your time efficiently. It is common for people who are disorganized and forgetful to exhibit the following symptoms:
- Organizational skills are lacking, resulting in a messy, cluttered office, house, desk, or car.
- Procrastination tendency
- Having trouble starting and completing projects
- Being chronically late
- Missing appointments, deadlines, and commitments frequently.
- The inability to find or locate items (keys, wallets, phones, documents, bills) on a regular basis.
- Underestimating how long tasks will take.
These symptoms may cause you difficulty controlling your behavior, comments, and responses. In some cases, you might react without considering the consequences or act before thinking.
Your natural tendency may be to interrupt others, blurt out comments, and rush through assignments without reading instructions. Staying patient can be extremely difficult if you have impulse control problems. Whatever the case may be, you will often find yourself drawn into situations that could be potentially dangerous. There are several symptoms associated with this condition:
- Talking over or interrupting others often
- A lack of self-control and a tendency to become addicted
- Inadvertently uttering rude or inappropriate thoughts
- Taking spontaneous or reckless action without thinking about the consequences
- Inability to behave appropriately in social situations (such as sitting still during a meeting for too long)
Difficulties With Emotions
A significant number of adults with ADHD struggle to manage their emotions, especially feelings such as anger and frustration. Adult ADHD is characterized by the following emotional symptoms:
- Stressing out and becoming easily flustered
- Short-tempered or irritable
- Sense of insecurity and underachievement due to low self-esteem
- Finding it difficult to stay motivated
- Oversensitivity to criticism
Restlessness or hyperactivity
Adults with ADHD may exhibit hyperactivity similar to kids. It is possible that you are constantly “on the go” and highly energetic. People with ADHD, however, often develop subtler and internal symptoms of hyperactivity as they age. In adults, hyperactivity can manifest in the following ways:
- You feel restless and agitated, and your mind races
- The tendency to get bored easily, to crave excitement, and to take risks
- Excessive talking and multitasking
- Constant fidgeting, difficulty sitting still
To have ADHD, you don’t necessarily need to be hyperactive
It is less likely that adults with ADHD display hyperactivity compared to their younger counterparts. There is only a small percentage of adults with ADHD who experience hyperactivity symptoms. The name ADHD can be misleading, so it is important to remember that although hyperactivity may appear central to the condition, even if you lack this symptom and exhibit any of the above ones, it is still possible that you have ADHD.
The Effects of ADHD in Adults
You might have suffered from adult ADHD unrecognized for years if you just discovered you suffer from it. Stress from procrastination, disorganization, and last-minute demands may overwhelm you as you struggle to keep your head above water. Your forgetfulness, lack of responsibility, or incapacity to accomplish certain tasks may have caused people to call you “irresponsible”, “lazy”, or even “stupid”.
You can experience problems in virtually every aspect of your life if you have ADHD that is undiagnosed and untreated.
A variety of physical and mental health issues. A variety of health problems can be caused by ADHD symptoms, including compulsive eating, substance abuse, anxiety, chronic stress and tension, and low self-esteem. It is also possible to run into trouble if you skip doctors’ appointments, fail to take medications on time, and ignore medical instructions.
Financial and work difficulties. A strong sense of underachievement is often experienced by adults with ADHD. You may find it difficult to maintain a job, follow corporate rules, meet deadlines, and stay on schedule. Financial management may also pose a challenge, including late fees, unpaid bills, and debt from impulsive purchases.
Problems in relationships. You may experience problems at work and in and in your family relationships due to ADHD symptoms. Your loved ones may constantly be nagging you to tidy up, listen more carefully, or organize. On the other hand, those close to you might feel hurt and resentful by perceiving you as irresponsible and insensitive.
ADHD can leave an individual feeling embarrassed, frustrated, hopeless, disappointed, and lacking in confidence. Perhaps you feel as if your life will never be under control or that your potential will never be realized. That’s why adult ADHD diagnoses can provide a great deal of relief and hope. For the first time, it helps you realize that you’re not at fault and gives you a better understanding of what you’re facing. It is not a sign of personal or character weakness that you are experiencing difficulties. Your difficulties result from attention deficit disorder.
You don’t have to be held back by adult ADHD
When you have ADHD, you may begin to believe that you have some sort of illness. There’s nothing wrong with being different. It’s important to note that ADHD isn’t a measure of intelligence or capability. It is possible to find your niche and achieve success even if you have difficulty in certain areas. Discovering your strengths and utilizing them are the keys to success.
It can be helpful to think about attention deficit disorder as a collection of traits that are both positive and negative—just like any other set of qualities you might possess. Along with the impulsivity and disorganization of ADHD, for example, incredible creativity, passion, energy, out-of-the-box thinking, and a constant flow of original ideas often come. Figure out your strengths and set up your environment in a way that supports them.
ADHD Self-Help for Adults
It is possible to make real changes in your life if you understand ADHD and use structured strategies. The vast majority of adults with attention deficit disorder have developed effective strategies and skills for managing their symptoms, maximizing their gifts, and leading productive and fulfilling lives. The need for outside intervention is not necessarily essential-at least not immediately. In order to control your symptoms, you can do a lot for yourself.
Maintaining a healthy diet and exercise regimen. A vigorous and regular exercise regime helps burn surplus energy and aggression while relaxing and calming the body at the same time. You can even out mood swings by eating a variety of healthy foods and limiting sugary foods.
Sleep well. You have a much harder time staying focused, managing stress, managing responsibilities, and staying productive when you are tired. It is important that you get enough sleep every night, so turn off screens an hour before bed and get between 7-9 hours of sleep.
Improve your time management skills. Regardless of how small the task might seem, you should set a deadline for it. Stay on track by using timers and alarms. Make sure you take regular breaks. Deal with each item as it comes in to avoid piles of paperwork or procrastination. List all assignments, messages, and important thoughts and prioritize those that are time-sensitive.
Improve your relationships. Keep your engagements with friends and plan activities together. Keep your ears open to conversations and online communication: pay attention to what others are saying and avoid speaking (or texting or emailing) too quickly yourself. Build relationships with people who understand your ADHD struggles and are sympathetic.
Make your work environment supportive. Organize your work by using lists, color codes, checklists, notes to yourself, rituals, and files. Work on projects that motivate and interest you if possible. Observe the conditions under which you work best and apply them to your workplace as much as you can. It may be advantageous to partner with people who are less creative but more organized – a mutually beneficial partnership.
Make mindfulness a habit. Practicing mindfulness meditation regularly can help you control your emotions and calm your busy mind, even if it’s challenging for some people with ADHD even to contemplate it. Become comfortable with meditation by beginning with a short session and increasing it over time.
Don’t blame yourself. Blame ADHD. People who are diagnosed with ADHD tend to blame themselves or see themselves negatively. The result can be self-esteem problems, anxiety, or depression. The good news is that ADHD isn’t your fault, and though you can’t change your wiring, you can learn how to overcome your weaknesses and excel in every aspect of your life.
Getting Outside Help for ADHD in Adults
You may need outside support if the symptoms of ADHD are still interfering with your life despite your attempts at self-help. There are a number of treatments that can help individuals with ADHD, such as vocational counseling, behavioral coaching, self-help groups, individual therapy, and educational assistance.
In the same way that treatment for kids involves a team of professionals and family members, the treatment for adults with attention deficit disorder should also involve the person’s family members and spouse.
With the help of ADHD professionals, you can manage impulsive behaviors, manage your time and money, be more organized, remain more productive at home and work, control stress, manage anger, and improve your communication skills.
It is not uncommon for people with such disorders to end up in unpleasant situations that overwhelm their senses or work with individuals who misunderstand or even discriminate against them. It is imperative to spread awareness of these problems and educate yourself on how to deal with issues like adult autism in the workplace.