Although each person is unique, there are many common signs of adult Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). The symptoms of adult ADHD listed below aren’t only experienced by those with the diagnosis. The difference between having ADHD or not relates to the extent of the struggles and the ways it interferes with functioning. ADHD can cause significant challenges in relationships, employment, and self-esteem for people who are not adequately treated. ADHD symptoms in adults don’t cause occasional trouble concentrating or careless mistakes…that’s normal life. Attention and focus exist on a spectrum and anyone can experience problems to some degree. Read these 26 signs of adult ADHD to learn more and see if you can relate.
1.Struggles with organization. This can be for a project that is being worked on, desk surface and papers, dresser drawers, keeping track of bills…the list is often endless in adult Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.
2.Frequent but unsuccessful multitasking: creating a huge to-do list but most projects only get 80% finished before starting the next item. This adds to a constant feeling of stress since the list of things needing to be done never gets shorter.
3.Careless mistakes and missed deadlines. Because of a lack of focus and rushing, the quality of work produced is below what is capable. In addition to work-related issues, life management skills (like paying bills on time) are challenging.
4.The desire to avoid long, drawn-out tasks or projects. When they are required, a person with ADHD may struggle with follow through. The preference is for quick-fix projects that have an end in sight.
5.Getting distracted from doing work by social media or email instead of focusing on the task at hand. This is a great example of one of the signs of adult ADHD that many people without any diagnosis struggle with. There are so many temptations we have at our fingertips these days. Information and entertainment are readily available to us. Although we all can get distracted by these same items, someone with adult ADHD may be more prone to this and really struggle to bring themselves and what they need to be doing back into focus.
6.Struggles with the ability to relax. Constantly trying to remember things that have been forgotten and stressed by the many responsibilities that haven’t been completed.
7.The ability to “hyperfocus” on areas of interest where it becomes difficult to stop doing that activity and focus elsewhere. This task is sometimes done to the detriment of other responsibilities.
9.Easily distracted or bored and need to frequently bring oneself back into focus to remember what needs to be done.
10.Chronic underachievement. Getting work or school evaluations that comment on underperformance or “not performing to the level of ability”.
11.Increased physical activity such as pencil tapping, leg shaking, or general fidgety behaviors that can distract others.
12.The tendency toward excessive shopping, drinking, drug use, or working too much. There are many reasons this happens but may relate to impulse control challenges where decisions aren’t thought through or a lack of healthy coping mechanisms to help manage stress and anxieties. For someone who tends to be a “work-a-holic” this may be the natural result of poor self-esteem left-over from childhood underperformance mixed with executive functioning deficits and being inefficient at getting work done in a timely manner.
13.Struggles in relationships because of the lack of follow-through, not listening, disorganization, and emotional reactivity (ie react quickly instead of thinking through one’s feelings and what you want to say). The partner of someone with adult Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder often interprets this lack of attention to the demands of running a household as “laziness” or lack of caring and resentments can build and drive apart a relationship. Each person in the relationship ends up feeling chronically stressed and unsupported.
14.Low self-esteem. Chronically feel less than or less capable than others around despite evidence to the contrary. Can look back and recognize a lifetime of feeling unable to somehow “measure up” or being told their performance was not what was expected and they were disappointing others.
15.Tasks or projects seem to take double the time they take others. Often need to study much longer than others or take projects home from work to complete them.
16.The tendency to make impulsive decisions. Some turn out well but some are regretted later when the consequences to the decision become apparent.
17.Dislike of planning and would rather just get started and figure it out as it goes.
18.Miss scheduled appointments or meetings. Sometimes this is due to forgetting to look at the calendar, not entering something correctly on the calendar, not setting a reminder alarm, or just getting distracted at the last minute and suddenly realizing the meeting started a half hour ago.
20.Have relatives diagnosed with ADHD.
21.While reading, eyes may be moving yet none of the information is absorbed. Often need to go back and re-read the whole thing (sometimes multiple times). This can lead to an avoidance of reading. HELLO! This is #21 in the list of ADHD symptoms in adults. Congratulations for making it this far!
22.Procrastination of tasks that aren’t engaging. It can feel like it takes monumental effort to get started even when the task isn’t complicated.
23.The tendency to interrupt and talk over people in conversation. Often not a great listener.
25.Emotional volatility. This can be an appropriate passionate reaction to an event but because the communication of the emotion isn’t thought through people around them feeling attacked or put off by the delivery. Their message gets lost because of this.
26.While be given feedback, a person with ADHD can be quickly defensive without adequately listening to what the other person is saying. This defensiveness is a form of self-protection that happens after a lifetime of being criticized for one thing or another often due to being off-task or not performing to expectations. The defensive reaction helps protect against feelings of shame and frustration.
Do you relate to these 26 signs of adult ADHD?
This list of symptoms of adult ADHD isn’t a set of diagnostic categories that need to be checked off but ways that ADHD often plays out in “real life”. Again, people with and without ADHD may identify with these symptoms but the extent to which it impairs functioning is the difference between having the diagnosis or not. How much do you relate to the list?
If you are curious if you or a loved one has ADHD take this ADHD symptom test. This is not diagnostic (the diagnosis needs to be made by a physician or psychologist) but can help you understand your own symptoms better.
Click HERE to take this quick symptom assessment.
What symptoms of adult ADHD would you add to the list? I’m sure we could easily make this list longer.
All my articles about ADHD can be found at this link.
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