5 Signs You Have ADHD; You’re Not Lazy

Disclaimer. This article is for educational purposes and not intended for self-diagnosis. If you believe that any of the points listed below apply to you, please visit a therapist for a proper diagnosis. 

ADHD is a serious behavioral condition. As defined by the American Psychological Association, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder ( or ADHD, for short) is a behavioral condition that affects your focus. It can make focusing on everyday tasks and routine challenging. 

ADHD does not mean you cannot focus. In some cases, it means that you focus intensely on something that may not be a priority. Some people describe it as constantly feeling overwhelmed or paranoid. 

According to data from 2019, approximately 0.96 percent of adults in the United States have ADHD. According to the DSM-5, ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder usually diagnosed in early childhood–between the ages of 5 to 17. 

The discourse surrounding ADHD is complicated. Although there is now more support for those who have ADHD, it was not always like this. For years, people with ADHD were labeled as lazy, procrastinators, flaky, or irresponsible. These labels only produced shame and prevent those with ADHD from seeking help. 

But, do not let these labels prevent you from seeking treatment. Remember that these labels, whether they plagued you in the past or follow you in the present, do not represent who you are. You are more than that. So, if you ever need help, please reach out to a medical health professional for assistance. 

Without much further ado, below are five signs you might have ADHD.

  • Childhood history 

ADHD is diagnosed during childhood because, for some cases, the signs are clear–interrupting class, not being able to pay attention, or being restless. Though many children exhibit these signs, persistent displays of inappropriate developmental behavior are part of the DSM-5 criteria for diagnosing ADHD in children. 

However, for adults, it is different. A childhood diagnosis is overlooked because you exhibited mild signs of ADHD or your symptoms were interpreted as something else. ADHD shares similar symptoms with depression, such as mood swings, forgetfulness, and inability to focus, so an early misdiagnosis is common. 

Regardless, I encourage you to seek professional help for a proper diagnosis or treatment.

  • Short attention span

Speaking of similarities between ADHD and depression, the most common similarity is short attention span. However, the difference between them is motivation.

People with depression experience lapses in attention as a result of cognitive impairments and irregularities in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex –region of the brain that deals with memory. However, someone with ADHD has a short attention span as a result of the condition. There is no definitive reason to explain why a short attention span is one of the symptoms, but researchers believe that differences in brain structure might play a role. It is not that you are incapable of being focused. It is that something else caught your attention. 

Strangely, this is why some people with ADHD experience episodes of being hyperfocused. It sounds paradoxical, but this too is seen as having a short attention span. Or, to restate–a selective attention span. 

  • Leaving things undone

As a result of a short attention span, you might be prone to leaving things undone. Projects, housework, homework might be put off for another day or fall to the wayside, regardless of how enthusiastic you are to start them. Though frustrating and incredibly challenging, there are therapies that can help.  

Doctor typically prescribes medication as a form of treatment. Depending on your ADHD, they may prescribe stimulants or non-stimulants to help you focus. Psychotherapy is also an option. In sessions, a therapist may use behavioral therapy or cognitive behavioral therapy to help you manage or change some of your behaviors. 

  • Poor impulse control

Another sign that you might have ADHD is poor impulse control. Poor impulse control does not refer to occasionally splurging on something. It refers to doing something you know that you should not do, like running a red light or maxing out your cards to the point that you cannot cover basic costs. You may not even know why you do things. You just do them. That is what poor impulse control means–acting without any foresight. 

But, impulse control is not always as dramatic. Sometimes, it can be as subtle as having distractions for your distractions, interrupting conversations, or engaging in risky behaviors. 

If you find yourself identifying with any of the actions above, I encourage you to go and talk to a therapist as they may give you some tips to better manage these symptoms. 

  • Unable to get organized

Lastly, the last sign that you might have ADHD is that you cannot seem to get organized. The lack of organization is not the problem, per se. The “problem” is that disorganization points to something else–racing thoughts, impulsivity, and other things that are just a byproduct of ADHD. I heard somewhere that your room reflects your state of mind. Although I do not completely agree since there are exceptions, there are some cases where it is true. I have noticed that whenever I’m anxious or depressed, my room slowly devolves into an unorganized mess, and my schedules fall apart. 

But, do not fret! There is hope. While calendars, planners, and bullet journals may work for some, they may not work in your case. However, I would suggest using alarms. Yes, I know. The sound of an alarm can be irritating, but it may help. Give yourself thirty minutes to an hour to complete something from your to-do list. After the alarm rings, move on to the next item, whether you finished the previous task or not. That way will not get stuck working on one thing. 

If alarms are not your thing, here are more tips that can help you get organized. 

While I have no idea what it feels like to live with ADHD, I sympathize. I hope that you find what works best for you. 

Take care!

Sources:

Bhandari, S. (2021, March 8). Do I Have ADHD? 10 Ways to Tell & How to Get a Diagnosis. WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/add-adhd/adhd-ways-to-tell. 

Brice, R. (2019, November 19). Here’s What ADHD Impulsivity Is Like. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/adhd/adhd-impulsivity#1. 

Brice, R., & Legg, T. J. (2019, November 19). A User’s Guide: A Look at Our Impulsivity Inventory. Healthline. 

Chung, W., Jiang, S. F., Paksarian, D., Nikolaidis, A., Castellanos, F. X., Merikangas, K. R., & Milham, M. P. (2019). Trends in the Prevalence and Incidence of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder Among Adults and Children of Different Racial and Ethnic Groups. JAMA network open2(11), e1914344. https://doi.org/10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2019.14344

Danielson, M. L., Bitsko, R. H., Ghandour, R. M., Holbrook, J. R., Kogan, M. D., & Blumberg, S. J. (2019, March 1). Prevalence of Parent-Reported ADHD Diagnosis and Associated Treatment Among U.S. Children and Adolescents. PMC. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5834391/pdf/nihms937906.pdf. 

Kinman, T. (2018, January 9). The Four Greatest Myths About ADHD. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/adhd/adhd-myths. 

Legg, T. J. (2020, February 19). 14 signs of ADHD: Does your child have ADHD? – Healthline. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/adhd/signs. 

MayoClinic. (2019, June 22). Adult attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/adult-adhd/symptoms-causes/syc-20350878. 

Rodriguez, A. (2018, September 2). ADHD Treatment Options. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/adhd/treatment-overview. 

Saline, S. (2021, March 22). ADHD Statistics: New ADD Facts and Research. ADDitude. https://www.additudemag.com/statistics-of-adhd/. 

American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Washington, DC. https://doi.org/10.1176/appi.books.9780890425596.

Santos-Longhurst, A. (2019, February 22). What Are the Causes of a Short Attention Span, and How Can I Improve It?Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/short-attention-span. 

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