Every adult has responsibilities to balance; however, if you frequently find yourself late, unable to organize, distracted, or overwhelmed with your obligations, you may have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), formerly known as ADD.
Adults who have ADHD may experience a wide range of frustrating symptoms that can impact everything from their relationships to their careers. Although the exact cause of ADHD remains unclear, the scientists suspect it’s likely due to a combination of genes, environmental factors, and tiny differences in the way the brain is hardwired.
There is a possibility that you have carried at least some of the symptoms of ADHD or ADD into adulthood if you were diagnosed as a child. However, you can still be affected by ADHD as an adult even if you were never diagnosed in your childhood.
ADHD can go undiagnosed all through childhood. In the past, this was more common when fewer people knew about it. Your family or teachers may have labeled you as a dreamer, goof-off, lazy, problematic, or just a poor student rather than understanding your symptoms and finding the root of the problem.
Another possibility is that you were able to cope with the symptoms of ADHD when you were young but failed to cope as an adult due to increasing responsibilities. Your organization, focus, and ability to remain calm will be increasingly affected as you pursue a career, raise a family, and run a household. It can be difficult for anyone, but when you have ADHD, it can seem nearly impossible.
The good news is that regardless of how overwhelming it may seem, you can beat the challenges of attention deficit disorder. When you have the right education, support, and creativity, you can handle the symptoms of adult ADHD as well as turn some of your weaknesses into strengths.
It is never too late to overcome the challenges of adult ADHD by learning to manage them and begin succeeding at your own pace.
Signs And Symptoms Of ADHD In Adults
ADHD is often looked at differently in adults than in children, and its symptoms vary from one person to another. The categories below highlight some common symptoms of adult ADHD.
Trouble Concentrating And Staying Focused.
“Attention deficit” may be a misleading term. Adults with ADHD can stay focused on stimulating and engaging tasks but struggle to stay concentrated on ordinary everyday tasks.
A person may quickly lose focus by irrelevant sounds and sights, jump between activities, or get bored easily. These symptoms often go unnoticed because they are less observable compared to the ADHD symptoms of hyperactivity and impulsiveness. However, they are just as problematic.
- You are constantly distracted by irrelevant activities or outside events that other people tend to ignore.
- There are so many thoughts going on at the same time that it’s hard to keep track of them all.
- You are unable to focus or pay attention, for example, while reading or listening to someone.
- You might unknowingly “zone out” or daydream without realizing it, even in the midst of a conversation.
- You’re having trouble completing tasks, even the simplest ones.
- Your tendency to overlook details may lead to errors or incomplete tasks.
- You may have poor listening skills, for instance, having trouble following directions and keeping track of conversations.
- You’re easily bored and looking for new and exciting experiences.
Hyperfocus: The Other Side Of The Coin
Although you probably know that people with ADHD have difficulty staying focused on tasks that they don’t find interesting, you may not be aware that they are also prone to get absorbed in stimulating and rewarding activities. These are paradoxical symptoms that are called hyperfocus.
Hyperfocus can be described as a way to cope with distraction, a coping strategy for dealing with the chaos. The feeling can be so overwhelming that you lose track of what’s going on around you.
For instance, you may lose track of time and overlook your responsibilities while being caught up in a book, watching a television show, or using your computer. Hyperfocus can be a great tool when used to accomplish productive work. However, left unchecked, it can also cause problems at work and in relationships.
Disorganization And Forgetfulness
The world can seem chaotic and overwhelming if you have adult ADHD. You may have trouble managing your time effectively and feeling on top of things.
It can also be challenging to figure out what information is relevant to your current task, set priorities, track your responsibilities, and stay organized. Here are a few symptoms that indicate disorganization and forgetfulness:
- Poor organization skills (the home, office, desk, or car are untidy and messy).
- Procrastination tendencies
- Having trouble starting and completing projects
- Inability to keep schedules
- A tendency to forget appointments, responsibilities, and due dates
- The habit of losing or misplacing items (keys, wallet, phone, documents, bills, etc.).
- Underestimating the amount of time required to accomplish a task.
If you exhibit symptoms associated with this condition, it may be difficult for you to inhibit your behavior, comments, and reactions. In such cases, you might react without thinking or respond without considering the consequences.
It is possible for you to interrupt others, blurt out comments, or rush through tasks without fully understanding the instructions. Staying patient is extremely challenging if you suffer from impulse control problems.
Whether you like it or not, you may jump into situations head-first and run into possibly dangerous circumstances. Here are some symptoms to look out for:
- You frequently interrupt or talk over others
- Self-control issues, tendency to be addictive
- Without thinking, you blurt out comments that are rude or offensive
- Taking reckless or spontaneous actions without considering the consequences
- Inability to behave in a socially appropriate manner (such as sitting still for long periods)
A lot of adults with ADHD have difficulty coping with their emotions, especially the feeling of anger and frustration. A few emotional symptoms associated with adult ADHD include:
- Stressing out and getting easily flustered
- A temper that is often explosive or irritable
- The feeling of insecurity and underachievement or a lack of self-esteem
- Having difficulty staying motivated
- A hypersensitive attitude towards criticism
Hyperactivity Or Restlessness
The signs of hyperactivity in adults with ADHD may look similar to those in children. It’s possible that you’re extremely energetic and constantly on the move, like a motor.
Many adults with ADHD experience hyperactivity in a more subtle and internal way as they age. The following symptoms are common among hyperactive adult individuals:
- A feeling of restlessness inside, anxiousness, and a racing mind
- Easily bored, craves excitement, and has a risk-taking attitude
- Doing too many things at the same time, talking unnecessarily
- Having difficulty sitting still and constantly fidgeting
You Don’t Have To Be Hyperactive To Have ADHD
The likelihood of hyperactivity among adults with ADHD is much lower than that of their child counterparts. In fact, only a small percentage of adults with ADHD exhibit obvious hyperactivity symptoms.
Even if you do not exhibit hyperactivity, you could still have ADHD if you suffer from one or more of the symptoms listed above.
Effects Of Adult ADHD
Even if you just learned you have adult ADHD, chances are you have been suffering for years due to the unrecognized condition. There may be times when it feels like the world is spinning out of control, stressed out by the constant pressure resulting from procrastination, disorganization, and trying to meet last-minute deadlines.
As a result of your forgetfulness or inability to complete certain tasks, you may have been characterized by people as “lazy,” “irresponsible,” or “stupid,” causing you to begin to think negatively about yourself.
The undiagnosed and untreated symptoms of ADHD can have wide-ranging effects and cause difficulties in virtually every aspect of your life.
Physical And Mental Health Problems
As a result of the ADHD symptoms, many people suffer from negative health outcomes and ADHD mood swings, such as eating disorders, addiction to alcohol or drugs, mental health issues, emotional stress, or low self-confidence.
You can also end up in trouble if you neglect important check-ups, skip doctor appointments, ignore medical instructions, or fail to take your medicine as prescribed.
Work And Financial Difficulties
ADHD adults often feel underachieved and experience career difficulties. It might be difficult keeping a job, follow company rules, keep up with deadlines, or adhere to a 9-to-5 work schedule.
It is also possible to have problems managing your finances: you might have unpaid bills, misplaced documents, overdue fees, or debt caused by reckless spending.
You may experience difficulties at work, in love, or in your family relationships if you have ADHD. It may be annoying to be constantly told by loved ones to tidy up, listen more carefully, or become more organized.
Your close family and friends may be hurt or resentful by what they perceive as your carelessness or lack of consideration.
People with ADHD can experience embarrassment, irritation, helplessness, dissatisfaction, and low self-esteem as a result of the wide-ranging effects of the disorder. There may be no hope for getting your life in order or fulfilling your potential.
Therefore, a diagnosis of adult ADHD can be a huge relief and a hope for improvement. It helps you recognize what you’re facing for the first time and understand that you are not at fault.
You have been experiencing difficulties because you have attention deficit disorder and not due to a flaw in your character or a weakness on your part.
Self-Help For Adult ADHD
When you are aware of ADHD’s challenges and have structured strategies to help you, you can improve your quality of life. Despite suffering from attention deficit disorder, many adults have found effective ways to cope with it, realize their potential, and live fulfilling and productive lives.
In most cases, you won’t need outside assistance-at least not immediately. There are a number of things you can do to treat yourself and manage your symptoms.
Exercise And Eat Healthfully
You can ease and calm your body by exercising consistently and frequently; it helps burn off extra energy and aggressiveness in a positive way. You can combat mood swings by eating a balance of healthy foods and limiting sugary foods.
Get Plenty Of Sleep
It’s impossible to concentrate, deal with stress, remain productive, and stay on top of your daily duties when exhausted or tired. To avoid this, you should turn off screens at least one hour before bedtime and get between seven and nine hours of sleep every night.
Practice Better Time Management
Be sure to set deadlines for every task, even the smallest ones. Use timers and alarms to keep track of your progress. Make sure you take breaks regularly.
Don’t let piles of paperwork or procrastination creep up on you. Take care of each item as it arrives. You should give priority to time-sensitive tasks and make a note of every message, assignment, or important thought you have.
Work On Your Relationships
Plan activities with your friends and keep your commitments. Stay alert while talking and communicating online: pay attention to what others are saying and avoid speaking too fast. Establish relationships with people who understand and sympathize with your ADHD challenges.
Create A Supportive Work Environment
Keep organized with lists, color-coding, a reminder app, notes to yourself, routines, and files. If you can, pick work you’re enthusiastic about and motivates you.
Consider how and when you work best and adapt these conditions to your work situation as much as possible. Teaming up with less creative, more organized people can be a mutually beneficial alliance.
Although some people with ADHD find it difficult to consider, regularly practicing mindfulness meditation can become a powerful tool for people who have ADHD.
It helps them calm their busy minds and gain a greater sense of control over their emotions. You may want to meditate for a short period and then increase the time as you get more comfortable with it.
Blame The ADHD, Not Yourself
A person diagnosed with ADHD may hold themselves responsible for their problems or perceive themselves negatively. The result can be self-esteem concerns, depression, or anxiety.
However, you are not to blame for having ADHD, and while you cannot change your innate brain wiring, you can learn to overcome your shortcomings and thrive in every aspect of your life.
When To Seek Outside Help For Adult ADHD
If ADHD symptoms continue to interfere with your day-to-day life, despite self-help attempts to deal with them, it may be time to look for professional assistance.
Several treatment options are available for adults with ADHD, such as behavioral therapy, individual counseling, support groups, vocational assistance, educational support, and medication.
Treatment for adults who have attention deficit disorder should have their problems addressed by a team of professionals along with the individual’s family members and spouse.
Professionals with ADHD training help you manage your impulsive behavior, manage time and finances more effectively, become more organized, increase productivity at work and home, handle anger and stress better, and improve communication.
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