Thirteen signs of ADHD in adults that often go unnoticed

An inability to focus is one of the signs of ADHD in adults
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Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a mental health condition characterised by challenges with inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity. Those diagnosed with ADHD typically start experiencing these difficulties during their childhood, which can carry on into adulthood.

ADHD doesn't have a one-size-fits-all approach as the condition manifests differently in different individuals. For instance, about 2 to 3 in 10 people with the condition struggle with concentration and focus, but not with hyperactivity or impulsiveness.

This variant of ADHD is also referred to as attention deficit disorder (ADD). ADD can often go unnoticed due to its less apparent symptoms.

In adults, defining the symptoms of ADHD becomes more challenging, primarily due to limited research on adults with ADHD, reports the Express. As ADHD is a developmental disorder, it's believed that it cannot develop in adults without first appearing during childhood.

However, symptoms of ADHD in children and teenagers often continue into adulthood. They can sometimes remain undiagnosed or unnoticed.

The impact of inattentiveness, hyperactivity and impulsiveness on adults can vary significantly from how they affect children. While hyperactivity tends to decrease in adults, inattentiveness often persists as the pressures of adult life increase.

Adult symptoms of ADHD are often more subtle than those seen in children. Some experts have provided a list of symptoms that can be associated with adult ADHD:

  1. carelessness and lack of attention to detail

  2. continually starting new tasks before finishing old ones

  3. poor organisational skills

  4. inability to focus or prioritise

  5. continually losing or misplacing things

  6. forgetfulness

  7. restlessness and edginess

  8. difficulty keeping quiet, and speaking out of turn

  9. blurting out responses and often interrupting others

  10. mood swings, irritability and a quick temper

  11. inability to deal with stress

  12. extreme impatience

  13. taking risks in activities, often with little or no regard for personal safety or the safety of others – for example, driving dangerously

It's crucial to remember that only a healthcare professional can provide an accurate diagnosis of ADHD.

ADHD UK has made available an Adult ADHD Self Screening Tool, compiled by the World Health Organisation and the Workgroup on Adult ADHD. It's crucial to note that this survey is intended for individuals to complete independently, providing an indication of whether they might have ADHD and could benefit from further clinical assessment.

Like ADHD in children and teenagers, adults with ADHD can also experience several related issues or conditions. Depression is one of the most common. Other conditions that may coexist with ADHD in adults include personality disorders, bipolar disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

The exact cause of ADHD remains unclear, but it's believed to be due to a combination of factors. These include genetics, as ADHD tends to run in families, and aspects of brain structure and function.

Various treatment options are available for ADHD, including medication, therapy, or a combination of both. The five types of medications approved for treating ADHD are methylphenidate, lisdexamfetamine, dexamfetamine, atomoxetine, and guanfacine.

It's important to note that these medications won't cure the condition, but they can help improve concentration, reduce impulsivity, promote calmness, and enhance the learning and practice of new skills.

Various types of therapies include psychoeducation, behaviour therapy, social skills training, and cognitive behavioural therapy. If you are diagnosed with ADHD in adulthood, both your GP and a specialist can guide you on the most suitable medicines and therapies.

As part of an ADHD assessment, specialists will typically ask about your current symptoms. However, under existing diagnostic guidelines, a diagnosis of ADHD in adults cannot be confirmed unless your symptoms have been present since childhood.

There are a number of things that people with ADHD can do to support their overall health and wellbeing. As with any health condition, people often want to help but don’t know how, and end up giving unhelpful advice. Tell the people in your life about the things you do and don’t find helpful.