10 Symptoms of ADHD in Adults

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ADHD in AdultsEasily distracted? Forgetful? Disorganized? Having a hard time maintaining relationships? These may be adult attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) symptoms. The same ADHD symptoms we see in many children can appear also in adulthood.

The symptoms and signs are often present but undiagnosed in a young child. Many adults suffer with this mental health disorder that can lead to emotional, financial, marital, legal, and even professional issues. If this sounds like you or someone you love, read on to learn the symptoms of ADHD in adults.

Adult ADHD: 10 Symptoms to Look For

As a childhood-onset disorder, adult ADHD may not present symptoms as severe as those seen in children. The major sign of hyperactivity is not as dominant and presents more as hyper focus, anxiety, and restlessness. The National Resource on ADHD group CHADD reports an estimated 10 million adults are living with ADHD. Let’s examine how personal relationships, careers, and self-outlook can be affected.

1. Lack of Focus

As hyperactivity is often the first sign recognized by parents of children with ADHD, lack of focus is the main sign in adulthood. It may seem like you’re losing interest during a conversation when you really just can’t stay focused on the topic. Perhaps you find yourself easily distracted while trying to accomplish a task and you may even miss important details or instruction.

2. Extreme Focus

On the other hand, hyperfocus may be a key sign as you become so determined to complete a job or task that you completely tune out the environment around you. From enjoying a hobby to watching a television show to paperwork, you seem to disregard sights, sounds, and people around you for a time period. This can cause hardships with co-workers and loved ones as they think you are ignoring them.

3. Restlessness and Anxiety

Like a train going at full speed, your mind is always racing with thoughts and concerns. This is similar to the hyperactivity a child with ADHD presents, but it is different in adults. Restlessness and anxiety work together in adults with ADHD as you may feel like you must keep moving and cannot stop. As life does not always work this way, frustration sets in and you become anxious. You may even play out scenes in your mind as to what will happen if you do not carry out what you want to do.

4. Lack of Motivation

Even with the symptoms of restlessness and hyper focus, a person with ADHD may also suffer from a lack of motivation. The active thought to manage a job or task is present, but the emotional desire of motivation hinders your actions. Procrastination and lack of organization are two key signs of this behavior.

5. Lack of Organization

Sometimes we all feel disorganized with our adult responsibilities of caring for family, work, ensuring bills are paid on time, and taking care of ourselves. Add to this unexpected events, and it sometimes seems impossible to keep up with it all. Imagine the weight of living life for someone with ADHD. Every day can be chaotic as they constantly struggle with time management and other organizational skills.

6. Forgetfulness

Those with adult ADHD are no different than us in forgetting where they placed objects such as car keys. The main difference is that forgetfulness is a daily negative in their lives. Little things such as forgetting to pick up milk at the store can lead to bigger issues that cause serious problems in their careers and personal relationships. Forgetfulness can appear to others as lack of intelligence or negligence.

7. Impulsiveness

Being impulsive or spontaneous with actions such as spending money or completing a task can have detrimental effects on a person’s professional and personal life. Adults with ADHD often interrupt conversations, act socially awkward and unacceptable, and walk through life with no thought, or care, of consequences.

8. Relationship Struggles

All of the aforementioned symptoms can contribute to problems with relationships, both professional and personal. Left untreated, a person with ADHD can struggle with managing tasks necessary to maintain employment or may have difficulty sustaining personal relationships with family and friends. Romantic relationships can suffer as well.

9. Lack of Self-Esteem

With all of the extra pressure adults with ADHD put on themselves, their feelings of self-worth can come into play. Problems at work, with relationships, and dealing with daily activities can lead to thoughts of failure. Any negative interactions with others can increase anxiety and stress.

10. Health Concerns

Any of the symptoms of ADHD can lead a person to disregard personal care. Sufferers may have poor hygiene, neglect healthy eating habits, avoid exercise, and not maintain regular physical checkups.

An adult suffering with symptoms of ADHD may also frequently change jobs, engage in excessive use of alcohol or illicit drugs, have trouble maintaining romantic relationships, and disengage from social activities.

What Causes ADHD?

There is no single direct cause of ADHD in adults or children. Research shows three major factors connect ADHD diagnosed cases.

  • Genetics may have a role in whether someone will develop this disorder as it can appear in generations of families.
  • Environment factors such as childhood exposure to lead has been linked to many cases.
  • Developmental issues are thought to lead to ADHD symptoms from the central nervous system.

From studies directed at these key factors, scientists have cautioned risk factors include family history of mental health disorders, exposure to alcohol and tobacco while in the womb, exposure to lead paint and pipes, and premature birth.

When to See a Doctor

If you suspect you or a loved one may be suffering from ADHD, there are treatments such as medication, counseling, and addressing any issues with other mental health disorders that can accompany ADHD. Patients with ADHD have been known to experience coexisting conditions such as depression, anxiety, learning, and behavior disorders. Diagnosis of ADHD is based on symptoms present in childhood, the number of symptoms and their direct relation to each other, and how the symptoms affect your daily activities. Talk to your doctor about possible symptoms, major life changes or events, any form of medications, and alternative treatments.

With the proper treatment and support, it is possible to function successfully with symptoms of adult ADHD. Feelings of anxiety, lack of focus or hyper focus, restlessness, and forgetfulness can disrupt your daily life and lead to problems with personal and professional relationships. If you or someone you know is suffering with any of these symptoms, seek professional advice and begin to enjoy life today.


Adult Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD),” Mayo Clinic; http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/adult-adhd/home/ovc-20198864, last accessed February 22, 2017.
Goldman, R., “12 Signs of Adult ADHD,” Healthline; http://www.healthline.com/health/adhd/adult-adhd#overview, last accessed February 22, 2017.
“10 Problems That Could Mean Adult ADHD,” Web MD; http://www.webmd.com/add-adhd/guide/10-symptoms-adult-adhd#1-2, last accessed February 22, 2017.
“Understanding ADHD For Adults,” CHADD The National Resource on ADHD; http://www.help4adhd.org/Understanding-ADHD/For-Adults.aspx, last accessed February 22, 2017.