You’ve lost your wallet for the 5th time this year. The unfinished tasks on your to-do list are months old. And your workspace is wallpapered in sticky notes. If you identify with any of these situations, you’re probably feeling frustrated with yourself and wondering, “What’s wrong with me?”
Could it be ADHD?
Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, or ADHD, is a persistent pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity. It’s considered a neurodevelopmental disorder, which means it’s the result of the brain or central nervous system working in an unexpected way. There are essentially three types of ADHD:
- primarily inattentive,
- primarily hyperactive/impulsive, or
- combined presentation (i.e. both inattentive and hyperactive/impulsive)
Can Adults Develop ADHD?
ADHD is a lifelong condition and the signs are usually present prior to age 12. Even for individuals who are diagnosed as adults, it’s likely they had undiagnosed ADHD as children. ADHD often gets confused with behavior/discipline problems or anxiety. Since kids tend to be very active, and their ability to pay attention and concentrate is still developing, ADHD can be especially difficult for parents, pediatricians, and teachers to detect.
Signs of Inattentive ADHD in Adults
People with inattentive ADHD experience at least six or more of the following signs for six months or more:
1. Little attention to detail and careless mistakes
Do you frequently overlook or miss details? People with ADHD find it difficult to complete assignments, make unintentional mistakes, or miss important details despite their best efforts.
2. Trouble sustaining attention in tasks or with multi-tasking
Did you get so lost in your thoughts that you forgot where you were about to do or where you were going? Or maybe you trail off during meetings or you have to re-read sentences 10 times. Adults with ADHD find it difficult to shift back and forth between tasks and tend to go off on tangents, both in conversations and with chores.
3. Difficulty listening, even when being spoken to directly
Perhaps you often ask others to repeat themselves or walk away from a conversation struggling to remember key information. Not listening is the main complaint about ADHD in adults from others who have frequent contact with them.
4. Not following through with instructions or completing work
Do you get side-tracked and forget what you were supposed to do? Or maybe you fell down a rabbit hole of a more enjoyable activity. ADHD in adults often looks like a bunch of unfinished chores or tasks.
5. Difficulty organizing tasks and activities
Inattention can make it difficult to get organized, prioritize, and manage time and materials. Do you find meeting deadlines/sending payments on time difficult? Do your counters or desks messy and covered with stuff? ADHD may be the reason.
6. Avoidance of tasks that require sustained mental effort
School, classes, seminars, long meetings, big projects, reading for more than a few minutes, preparing reports – love them or hate them? If you have to suppress an internal groan or just feel like a huge drag, inattentive ADHD might be at play.
7. Losing things
Maybe you’ve spent a few too many mornings wondering where you left your keys, wallet, or phone. You might miss important calls because you didn’t have your phone on you (even though you thought you did). Yup, that’s a sign of ADHD in adults, too.
8. Becoming easily distracted
How long does it take you to finish a task? If it takes you longer than it would for most people, this might point to some inattention. Feeling easily distracted by sights and sounds in your environment, people, even your own thoughts can all be signs of ADHD in adults.
This is a common feature of inattention. You may be running errands and you totally overlook an important one, or perhaps you feel like you’re always apologizing for failing to respond to emails or calling people back. You might miss appointments, events, or deadlines despite having reminders programmed.
Signs of Hyperactive/Impulsive ADHD in Adults
While people usually relate ADHD to a short attention span, signs of hyperactivity and impulsivity can be very frustrating and interfere with daily activities and social relationships.
Have you ever sat next to a person whose knee is always jumping? Or maybe you’re that person. Fidgeting can present in many ways, such as tapping your hands or feet, constantly touching something else, playing with your hair, cracking your knuckles, or frequently repositioning yourself in your seat.
2. Standing up all the time
Do you need to pace when you’re on the phone? Perhaps you find you’ve been walking around the room in circles for upwards of 20 or 30 minutes on longer calls. Even on days when you have a lot of work, you’re up and about – going to the bathroom, getting coffee, the break room, etc.
This is an interesting one to identify in adults, as it has less to do with behavior and more with a feeling. It’s an urge to move. Sitting or staying put for a prolonged period of time is not an option.
4. Loud, even during downtime
Hyperactive/Impulsive ADHD in adults is noisy. They slam doors unintentionally, burst into rooms, or prefer loud music and TV. There’s no such thing as an “inside voice” in their world.
5. Always “on the go”
Are you always going from here to there, never staying in one place for too long? Others marvel at your endless energy or that you’re always up to something. Adults with ADHD often say they feel driven by a motor inside.
6. Excessive talking
Does your voice feel strained or throat dry after phone calls? Maybe others have complained that you talk a mile a minute or your conversations are one-sided (your side, usually).
7. Blurting things out
Ever feel like you’re waiting for the other person to finish speaking so you can jump into the conversation again? Or maybe you’re notorious for interrupting or cutting people off? Signs of ADHD in adults are often easier to notice in conversations. This leaves people who have frequent contact with an ADHD adult frustrated and can strain relationships over time.
8. Impatience and a hot temper
We all hate traffic and long lines, but for people with ADHD, the idea of waiting in any kind of line makes their skin crawl. If waiting for things makes you feel like you’re on the edge of your seat, you’ve often referred to yourself as impatient, or you just have a generally low tolerance for frustration, this might mean you’re dealing with some hyperactivity or impulsiveness, which can be signs of ADHD in adults.
9. Interrupting or Intruding
Similar to blurting things out, if you interrupt or intrude on others, it may seem like you’re butting into conversations or activities a lot. Perhaps you’ve noticed that you grab or take others’ things at inappropriate times or without asking permission, or maybe you “take over” what someone else is doing, which can create uncomfortable feelings in social situations.
Think you may have ADHD?
If you think you or a loved one might have undiagnosed ADHD, there’s no need to fret. Like with so many mental health issues, recognizing the signs of ADHD in adults is a big first step toward managing it successfully. With appropriate treatment, people with ADHD can live full and successful lives. But first, you have to make sure you get an accurate diagnosis.
Psychological testing can determine the signs of ADHD in adults.
Don’t continue struggling, and you should know that effective help is available. Psychological testing can detect the signs of ADHD in adults and provide you with tailored recommendations so you know your treatment options. Call us at (305) 501-0133 or click here to schedule a free 15-minute Clarity Consult to get one step closer to feeling relief from ADHD.