Attention defecit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is something we often associate with children. It’s true, that about 5% of children do have the disorder. However, we don’t often consider that the signs and symptoms of ADHD sometimes get carried over into adulthood. According to the American Psychiatric Association, about half of children who are diagnosed with this disorder will continue to show signs of it as they mature into adults.
Unfortunately, many adults who do have ADHD have gone undiagnosed. If an adult isn’t diagnosed and treated for the condition properly, it can lead to major problems in everyday life. ADHD can put a strain on relationships, and cause other physical and mental issues. Thankfully, treatment is a fairly easy option once the condition has been properly diagnosed.
While an official diagnosis needs to be completed by a doctor, there are a few signs and symptoms you can look for that are typically associated with ADHD in adults. If you have several of these characteristics, you may want to consider talking to your doctor about the possibility of having the condition.
1. You Can’t Stay Focused
Usually, a short attention span is one of the first ways we notice ADHD in kids. The same goes for adults. It’s about more than just not being able to focus on one thing for an extended period of time. Perhaps you get distracted easily, or you overlook certain details. Maybe you have difficulty concentrating on conversations, or you can’t complete projects. As you can see, these can end up being big problems as an adult, especially when it comes to relationships and careers.
2. You’re Hyperfocused
ADHD doesn’t always have to equate to a short attention span. Some people with the disorder actually have ‘hyperfocus.’ That means they can become so invested in one thing that the rest of the world tends to fade away. While this might seem good for concentration, hyperfocus takes it to the extreme. It may cause you to ignore people around you, and lose track of time.
3. You’re Forgetful
It’s normal to forget things once in awhile, but people with ADHD have issues with remembering things on a daily basis. It can be something as simple as forgetting where you’ve placed an item, to not being able to remember specific dates, etc. It might seem like nothing but mild annoyance at first, but continued forgetfulness can become a real problem.
Unfortunately, people often associate forgetfulness with unintelligence, or a lack of character. If your absent mindedness is the result of ADHD, it needs to be diagnosed as such, so you can break through the other negative stigmas that may be getting attached to your behavior.
4. You’re Impulsive
A little impulsivity isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it can quickly become a problem when it gets out of hand. Adults who deal with ADHD may exhibit impulsive behaviors on a regular basis. These could include things like:
Interrupting people during conversations
Acting on something without thinking it through
Rushing through work or your daily task list
Your impulsive behavior might start to have a serious negative effect on your career, and your relationships. It can often come across as rude and immature, and may even start to affect your finances, since impulse shopping is often another sign.
There are many other signs and symptoms to consider with adult ADHD. However, if you have more than one of the signs listed here, and they are starting to impact your life in a negative way, it may be a good time to get an official diagnosis, so you can begin a treatment program as soon as possible.
Marcy M. Caldwell, Psy.D. is a licensed clinical psychologist who specializes in the treatment and assessment of adult ADHD Psychologist Philadelphia.