Untreated, this can be hugely problematic, causing difficulties in work, relationships, and with personal safety. Here we discuss common signs of ADHD in adults and what to do if you think you or a loved one might be affected.
How do I know if I have ADHD?
ADHD is characterized by three core symptoms: hyperactivity, difficulty sustaining attention, and increased impulsivity.
In children these qualities are usually easy to spot: your child might have difficulty sitting still, paying attention at school, and thinking through decisions, for example.
However, in adults these characteristics are more readily masked. For instance, adult lives are often less structured than those of school aged children, and adults with ADHD have often had to develop coping strategies to overcome their difficulties.
Signs that you might have adult ADHD include:
- Misplacing important belongings, such as your phone or keys, on a regular basis
- Habitually struggling to keep to deadlines and attend appointments on time, without an obvious reason
- Difficulty staying on task during a conversation or activity, due to your mind wandering or being distracted by things going on around you
- Feeling restless, jittery or fidgety; particularly when sitting or standing still
- Being very talkative, perhaps to the point of speaking over people or speaking to others when it might be unusual to do so
Naturally, these tendencies can have a large impact on work and social relationships, and if their cause has not been explained, sufferers can be left feeling like they are less competent, intelligent, or likeable than their peers.
But is it really a problem?
Like other psychological conditions, ADHD is only a problem when it has a negative impact on your health and/or happiness. Many people live with ADHD and have an excellent quality of life; however, it is also important to note that ADHD is associated with certain difficulties. For this reason, it is completely appropriate to seek support if you feel you need it.
Perhaps the gravest risk associated with ADHD is the risk of accident or injury. Because people with ADHD have a tendency to be impulsive, studies have found that adults with ADHD are more likely to have a serious accident than non-sufferers2.
Studies3 have also shown that ADHD can have a widespread negative impact on core areas of day-to-day life. For instance, adults with ADHD are statistically less likely to find and maintain stable employment, which can cause financial difficulties. Furthermore, they are more likely to be divorced, more likely to get into trouble with the criminal justice system, and less likely to graduate from university than peers without ADHD.
In addition, ADHD in adulthood is often associated with over-reliance on recreational drugs4. If you have concerns about addiction, click here to find out more.
What can I do about it?
If you suspect that you, or someone close to you, might be suffering with ADHD, then it is advisable to get a professional assessment – your GP should be able to help with this and you can read our guide to the assessment process here.
Additionally, you may wish to see a psychiatrist, who might prescribe medication that can help you to focus your attention better. Similarly, psychologists can help you to develop coping strategies to minimise the impact of your ADHD on your day-to-day life. Psychologists and counselors are also well placed to discuss the emotional impact of your diagnosis in a safe and containing environment. Read more about support services available for Adults with ADHD here.
Finally, if you find that you have difficulties sustaining attention and that this is impacting your memory, then check out Professor Narinder Kapur’s Top Ten Memory Tips. Often, subtle adjustments to your living environment can be a simple solution to ADHD related memory difficulties.
The take home
Adult ADHD is relatively common, but not everyone is aware of it or how devastating the impact can be on your health and happiness. Fortunately, treatment is available.
If you think you might have ADHD, and/or you would like help managing your symptoms, call 0203 326 9160 to see how we can help.
Read more about ADHD in adults here: https://www.clinical-partners.co.uk/for-adults/adult-adhd-add
Read more about ADHD in children here: https://www.clinical-partners.co.uk/child-adolescents/child-teen-adhd
Clinical Partners is the UK’s largest private mental health partnership, helping children, adults, families and organisations nationwide.