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If you have these 9 symptoms you might have ADHD, according to a psychologist

ADHD woman zoning out during work
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  • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is often defined by distraction and impulsivity.

  • However, there are many other symptoms that make up this condition.

  • Here are the most common ADHD symptoms, and how they differ from symptoms of autism and anxiety.

For people who often got in trouble as kids for daydreaming or fidgeting too much, getting diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) can feel like they finally have an explanation.

Characterized by forgetfulness, disorganization, and impulsiveness, ADHD can make it difficult to perform tasks such as studying, work, and household chores. Even social interactions can be challenging, as friendship requires listening and recalling details about other people — something that can be a struggle for people with ADHD.

And diagnosing ADHD can be tricky, especially when many ADHD symptoms overlap with the symptoms of other conditions like autism and anxiety.

Dr. Lara Honos-Webb, a clinical psychologist specializing in ADHD, said that simply going down a list of ADHD symptoms — like when you take an online test — isn't enough to rule out other diagnoses, like depression, autism, or anxiety.

And many people with ADHD may also have multiple other conditions, creating "a puzzle to sort out the core issue," she said.

Honos-Webb spoke with Insider about some core symptoms of ADHD that warrant seeking a professional opinion. While there can be overlap with other disorders, she said if you experience these symptoms frequently, it increases the likelihood that you may have ADHD.

1. You constantly miss important information or deadlines

In the age of smartphones, social media, and endless notifications, anyone can zone out. But Honos-Webb said ADHD is characterized by more serious consequences, such as getting poor grades, being held back in school, or missing multiple meetings a week.

"It always comes back to that you're not capable of meeting the goals that you have set for yourself or are required for you," she said.

People with ADHD can try very hard to focus, and still get into trouble.

2. You can't help but interrupt or talk over people

Depending on your upbringing, it might be normal to talk over each other, and not all cultures view overlapping conversations as interrupting.

"But when you can't control it in situations where there will be negative consequences," Honos-Webb said it could be a sign of ADHD.

For example, you might try really hard not to blurt out sentences or cut someone off, but still find yourself doing it.

3. As hard as you try, you really struggle to listen

Honos-Webb said some of the more subtle symptoms of ADHD tie into inattentiveness, such as an inability to listen.

She said it might be more obvious in school, because missing information usually leads to failed tests or disciplinary action. But this symptom can be harder to recognize in adults with ADHD, who may nod along in conversation but not necessarily be able to recall the details.

4. You can't regulate your emotions

Emotional dysregulation is a "fairly new development in the understanding of ADHD," Honos-Webb said, and a part of ADHD that is believed to cause other symptoms like impulsivity.

Examples of emotional dysregulation include getting swept up in a rage or rashly interpreting benign behavior as a sign of rejection. As a result, you might cut a friend off in the moment, only to later regret it.

5. You often put things off

Honos-Webb said that another subtle ADHD sign is frequent procrastination or simply not finishing things.

It can translate to disorganization at work or even putting off eating, because you can't get around to doing chores or tackling a long-overdue assignment.

6. You compulsively lie to get out of trouble

Because people with ADHD can often get in trouble at school, work, or in their interpersonal relationships, a common side effect is chronic lying, Honos-Webb said.

The lying can be about grades on a test, or that you were really listening to every word — anything to prevent more feelings of shame and guilt.

7. Your symptoms come up in your relationships

Honos-Webb said that when people with ADHD get married or have kids, their symptoms can become more pronounced. A romantic partner might be put off by tardiness or zoning out, "so this symptom intensity may have greater consequences and feel like it's being noticed more often," she said.

With children, the already difficult task of childrearing can be even harder if you have ADHD. Now, on top of cleaning up after yourself and adhering to a schedule, you have to do the same for young children.

Plus, she noted, there's "the genetic likelihood that one or more of your kids could have ADHD if you have it."

8. You had ADHD symptoms as a child

For an accurate diagnosis, Honos-Webb noted that it's crucial to have displayed symptoms in childhood, before age 13, as ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder. Even if you get diagnosed in adulthood, clues like poor test scores in elementary school can help rule out other disorders or conditions.

For example, someone who experienced a traumatic event as a young adult might exhibit symptoms like forgetfulness or emotional dysregulation, but that doesn't mean they have ADHD, she said.

9. You have symptoms in more than one area in your life

Another way to know if it's time to see a professional is if you display ADHD symptoms in at least two areas of your life, Honos-Webb said. A person who is only losing focus when at work, but otherwise attentive at home and with friends, may not have ADHD.

Sometimes, ADHD-like symptoms like fidgeting or drifting off can come from circumstances like genuine boredom or worrying about a bigger issue in your life. But if you feel "chaotic and scattered" at work and at happy hour, it might be time to seek out a formal ADHD screening.

Read the original article on Insider