While ADHD is a commonly diagnosed mental health disorder with many options for treatment, it can be overlooked in adults. Knowing the symptoms can help you know if this may be behind some of the challenges you are facing.
You probably have been aware for a long time that something just doesn’t feel quite right in your life. You have trouble focusing at work, are fatigued, and can’t seem to ever be on time. You might have trouble maintaining relationships despite your best efforts. People around you have likely chalked it up to your character, or told you to get more sleep or learn how to better manage your schedule. No matter what you try though, there always seems to be a gap between what you feel like your potential is, and what you are actually able to achieve.
While most of us are aware of what attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is, it is so commonly understood as a childhood disorder that we forget it is also present in adults, albeit with different symptoms. Currently, researchers believe that around 75% of adults who have ADHD do not know that they have it.
With treatment, symptoms of ADHD can be greatly improved, leading to a better overall quality of life. Getting familiar with what these symptoms are is a critical first step in assessing whether you may be living with this disorder, and knowing when to reach out for professional support.
Symptom 1: Challenges in Organisation and Management
Our abilities to manage time, organise our thoughts, pay attention, plan, multi-task, control our words and actions, shift focus, or recall our past experience to inform present action are all wrapped up in a set of skills called “executive functions.” For people living with ADHD, these functions work differently, with most people experiencing some level of difficulty with some or all of these functions. This includes challenges with things like:
- Regulating emotions
- Problem solving and planning
- Maintaining a consistent inner monologue
- Picturing things mentally
Symptom 2: Trouble with Time
People with ADHD often struggle with time management, and for good reason. Studies have shown that people with ADHD have neurological differences in the area of the brain that is linked to attention and behaviour. This can result in someone being unable to accurately estimate how long something will take, or how much time they need to get ready for an outing.
These differences also impact a person’s ability to plan for the future, making it difficult for people to anticipate or prepare for events. People with ADHD may feel like time is slipping by while they are unable to complete set tasks, creating frustration and despair around deadlines.
Symptom 3: Constant Restlessness
What is seen as hyperactivity in children often progresses to restlessness in adults. This can translate into a discomfort with sitting still and a persistent need to stay busy. Are you someone who can’t be on the phone or sitting at a desk without also doodling, cleaning up, or surfing the Internet? The need to be fully occupied may be linked to ADHD.
Symptom 4: Heightened Sensitivity
Do you feel physical pain when you are criticised or rejected in some way? Do you avoid taking on certain roles or responsibilities because you fear not being able to live up to someone else’s expectations? This type of intense emotional response is common to adults with ADHD, and can result in withdrawal from relationships with others, or impulsive anger or blame towards anyone who’s made a perceived or actual slight.
Symptom 5: Issues with Money Management
Studies have shown that adults with ADHD face challenges with financial decision-making. Impulsive spending, problems with consistently saving money, and financial dependence on others are more likely for people with ADHD. If you are finding that you often exceed your credit card limits, or struggle with financial planning for your future, this could be a symptom of adult ADHD.
Symptom 6: Intense Focus
Though it can feel nearly impossible for adults with ADHD to focus on activities that aren’t interesting to them, things that are perceived as stimulating can be intensely fixating. This means that someone may deeply engage with activities they enjoy for hours, losing track of everything else and becoming unaware of their surroundings. Do your loved ones have to try extra hard to get your attention when you are immersed in something you like? This could be a symptom of ADHD. While this can be problematic at times, it can also be beneficial, particularly when it’s attached to school, work, or creative projects.
Symptom 7: Frequent Changes in Jobs
It’s not uncommon for those with ADHD to feel overwhelmed by assigned tasks or bored by repetitive work, and trying to find a different job is often a way to try and manage stress and regain a sense of balance in life. However, this feeling may be more related to the way the brain functions with ADHD and less about the job itself, leading to similar problems in future job opportunities.
Symptom 8: Trouble Maintaining Friendships and Relationships
The symptoms of ADHD can sometimes result in challenges in interpersonal relationships, particularly if they aren’t well understood by others. Trouble focusing during conversations, difficulties with time management, challenges remembering important events like birthdays and anniversaries, and heightened emotional sensitivity may be incorrectly attributed to a lack of maturity or interest rather than common symptoms of ADHD. Reflecting on your relationships in your adult life, including those that have fizzled out, can help you get a sense of whether some of these may have been impacted by ADHD-related symptoms.
Treatment for Adult ADHD
More than half of adults with ADHD also have a co-occurring disorder, which is why it is so important to talk with a mental health specialist if you think you may have ADHD. A specialist can review and analyse your symptoms to make an initial diagnosis and come up with a treatment plan.
Once you have been diagnosed with ADHD, there are a variety of methods of treatment available to help manage symptoms and improve your overall quality of life. Like most disorders, people with ADHD benefit from a range of interventions, which may include psychotherapy, medication, learning new coping mechanisms, and lifestyle changes. Connecting with a support group can help counter any isolation you may be feeling as a result of your symptoms, and give you the opportunity to learn and share experiences with a community of people who truly understand where you’re coming from.
Learning How to Thrive with Adult ADHD at The Dawn
The Dawn Wellness Centre and Rehab in Thailand is an internationally accredited residential mental health treatment centre for those looking to change their lives and overcome mental health issues, addiction, and co-occurring disorders.
The Dawn offers comprehensive, holistic treatment methods that are tailored to each client’s individual needs. These include a range of effective psychotherapies, as well as proven wellness practices such as yoga, mindfulness meditation, and fitness training.
Call The Dawn today to learn more about how we can help with your mental health problem.