Disclaimer: This article is for educational purposes. If you have further questions or concerns, consult with a licensed professional.
I am sure you have heard the term “attention deficit hyperactivity disorder” or ADHD before. It is a disorder marked by an ongoing pattern of inattention or hyperactivity that interferes with functioning and development.
Though ADHD is diagnosed during childhood, it can also affect adults. Unfortunately, there is a significant lack of research into adults with ADHD because many scientists believe that, since ADHD is a developmental disorder, it cannot develop in adults without demonstrating any signs during early childhood. But, signs and symptoms of ADHD often persist into adolescence and adulthood.
According to the NHS, by the age of 25, 15% of those diagnosed will still present symptoms. Of those diagnosed, 65% will have symptoms that affect their lives.
Here are six signs and symptoms that you should look out for.
One of the hallmark signs of ADHD is inattentiveness. It goes beyond not paying attention. It can also look like an inability to focus on a task, finding it hard to pay attention to others, or overlooking details. Though these symptoms can also be by stress, pay special attention if you find your focus shifting a lot.
On the opposite side of the coin, you can also experience hyperfocus. It may seem contradictory, but hyperfocus is also another sign of ADHD in adults. Hyperfocus, in a person with ADHD, can cause them to be so engrossed in a task that you forget about other pressing tasks.
Note, it is important to differentiate when you are hyperfocused, and when you find yourself in a state of flow. Flow emerges from a state of deep concentration or engagement in something. Typically, the result produces a positive feeling– a sense of accomplishment. Hyperfocus is a result of an inability to regulate your attention span.
Though being hyperfocused on a task can seem productive, but it may not always be beneficial. The one side of hyperfocus is that you can’t always choose what you focus on. Sometimes your attention is set on something productive like homework, but it can also be on something insignificant like bidding on eBay.
Both inattentiveness and hyperfocus can lead to setbacks in relationships, at work, or in school. Fortunately, there are coping mechanisms that can help. For example, you could prioritize your tasks and accomplish them one by one, or ask family and friends to send you an email or text at a specific time to help you shift your focus.
This symptom can present itself in different ways. Acting with impulse does not always look like someone making a decision that you might regret later. It can also look like speaking out of turn, being socially inappropriate, or rushing through tasks.
We all have hectic lives, but for someone with ADHD, things may be a bit more chaotic. If you have ADHD, you may have trouble establishing order in your life. Luckily, there are apps that can help.
Because this symptom is present in a lot of other disorders, it is not an inherent sign of ADHD. If you have been diagnosed with ADHD, you may experience mood swings or irritability. There may be days where you feel great emotionally and days where you ate in the emotional gutter.
Fortunately, here are some techniques that can help you find stability. For example, writing your emotions down can help you spot emotional patterns and prepare for the next time. Also, setting a schedule will help you establish a routine and avoid possible stress.
Lack of Motivation
Though it may feel like you are doing everything at once, you might find yourself unmotivated to do them. Lack of motivation is a symptom commonly seen in children with ADHD, but it can be present in adults too. A lack of motivation combined with other symptoms, like poor organizational skills, is problematic when it comes to accomplishing tasks or being engaged at work.
There are many ways to help fight a lack of motivation. For example, you could break down your chores into manageable tasks or write down positive feelings you experience throughout the day. These techniques can help you find the motivation to finish your tasks.
Living with ADHD does not have to be burdensome. There are plenty of solutions that can help. Cognitive-behavioral therapy can give you techniques that will keep you organized and motivated. If your ADHD is mild, you can meet with a professional organizer.
Some other mechanisms to cope with ADHD symptoms are learning to manage stress, eating right, and getting enough sleep. If your symptoms worsen, talk to a health care professional for further treatment options.
As always, take care!
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Legg, T. J., M.D. (2018, December 17). Symptoms and Signs of Adult ADHD. Retrieved 2020, from https://www.healthline.com/health/adhd/adult-adhd#restlessness-and-anxiety
Legg, T. J., M.D. (2019, February 19). ADHD and Hyperfocus. Retrieved 2020, from https://www.healthline.com/health/adhd/adhd-symptoms-hyperfocus#Hyperfocus-in-Adults
MayoClinic. (2019, June 22). Adult attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Retrieved November 20, 2020, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/adult-adhd/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20350883
MentalHealth. (2020, January 16). What advice would you give to someone lacking in motivation? Retrieved November 20, 2020, from https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/blog/what-advice-would-you-give-someone-lacking-motivation
NHS. (2018, May 30). Retrieved November 20, 2020, from https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/attention-deficit-hyperactivity-disorder-adhd/symptoms/
NIMH. (2019, June 22). Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. Retrieved November 20, 2020, from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/attention-deficit-hyperactivity-disorder-adhd/index.shtml