5 Signs Of ADD In Adults: Learning To Recognize Adult ADD

Updated August 27, 2020

Medically Reviewed By: Whitney White, MS. CMHC, NCC., LPC

ADD seems to be a term that people only use with children. However, there are people of all ages that are living with a mental health disorder. While it seems to gain the most amount of attention with school-aged children, it can also cause problems and challenges for adults as well. Learning to recognize the signs of ADD in adults can help you identify if it’s something that you may be struggling with in life.

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When you learn how to recognize it in your own life, it can help you take advantage of the treatment options that are available to overcome the struggles you may otherwise face.

What Is ADD?

ADD stands for attention deficit disorder. It is a mental health disorder that is commonly diagnosed in childhood. However, it is possible that you may not discover that you have ADD or ADHD until you are n adult. This could be due to the symptoms not being caught when you were a child, or it could be that they actually didn’t present in you until you were out of school.

ADD impacts the development of certain areas of the brain, such as the frontal lobe. The areas that are affected are responsible for helping you with daily activities such as paying attention, making decisions, and staying organized.

While many people know and refer to the disorder as “ADD,” the official mental health diagnosis is ADHD. This stands for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. However, there are three different ways that the disorder can present itself in your life. While the “H” in ADHD stands for hyperactivity, there are some people that don’t experience those symptoms with their diagnosis. This is known as predominately inattentive ADHD.

Signs Of ADD In Adults

When many people think of ADD, they think of the way that the symptoms present themselves in children. This can include things like:

  • Running, climbing, and jumping around when they should be sitting still
  • Interrupting others that are talking
  • Reacts quickly with anger
  • Has difficulty sitting still
  • Fidgeting and squirming

Some of these symptoms may feel the same for adults, such as struggling to sit still. However, now that you’re an adult, there’s a good chance you’ve learned how to control some of the behaviors that you used to have as a child.

But that doesn’t mean that you don’t still struggle with symptoms from ADD. As an adult, they can present themselves in other ways that can even negatively impact your life, if you don’t address them. Here are some of the symptoms you may be experiencing:

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  1. Getting Bored Easily

If you struggle with ADHD, you may find that you get bored quickly throughout your day, especially when you have to stay on a single task for an extended period of time. This can make it difficult to focus on projects at work or complete things that you need to be doing in your personal life. You may find that you would prefer to jump from one task to the next, even if it means that you’re not completing what you need to before moving on. This feeling can also cause you to fidget around if you’re supposed to be staying put for things like meetings or long conversations.

  1. Lack Of Organization

You may also find that you struggle with keeping things organized. Keeping things in their place and having a system to do so might not be something that comes naturally to you. And, even though you may benefit from having sound organizational systems set up in your life to help keep you on track, it can be something that’s difficult for you to implement on your own.

You may struggle to find your keys when you’re trying to walk out the front door, misplace the mail when you come into the house, or keep papers stacked in messy piles on your desk instead of having them placed in folders and drawers.

  1. Constantly Running Late

If you struggle with adult ADD or ADHD, you may also find that you’re always running late for places that you need to be. And this can happen for many different reasons.

You may find that you’re always running late because you can’t remember where you put items that you need to bring with you as you head out the door. You may lose track of time and not realize that you were supposed to have left 15 minutes ago. Or, it could be that you committed to doing something and then completely forgot that you had agreed to do it because you overbooked yourself and didn’t write your commitments down on the calendar.

  1. Poor Listening Skills

Because ADD can make it a challenge to stay focused, it can impact your ability to focus and actively listen during conversations. You may find that your mind begins to wander when you are supposed to be listening to the other person talk. This can cause the other person to grow frustrated, and it can cause you to miss out on hearing important information.

Because listening is an essential social skill, not listening to others can also impact your ability to interact with and build relationships with others in your life. They may see your behavior as rude if they don’t know that you struggle with ADD and understand how the disorder can impact you.

  1. Procrastination On Larger Projects

Another symptom that you may experience with ADD is difficulty getting started on projects, especially ones that are going to require you to focus on them for longer periods of time. This can cause you to procrastinate on getting started at all. It could be that you feel overwhelmed about the task at hand, and so instead of getting started on it, you push it off.

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While procrastinating only makes completing the project more challenging to complete in the long run, it can feel too overwhelming to get started. You may find yourself choosing to take advantage of the short-term benefit of procrastinating instead of getting started on time.

Challenges Caused By ADD Symptoms

The symptoms that you live with as an adult living with attention deficit disorder can create challenges in many areas of your life. For example, you may find that you struggle with your performance at work due to your struggle with disorganization and procrastination. You may find it difficult to stay focused when you should be working.

You may find that you struggle with relationships as well. You may find that you’re fighting with your significant other because of struggles that you face due to ADHD or ADD. For example, they may be frustrated that you don’t listen and engage in conversations that they are trying to have with you. Or, they may grow frustrated with your lack of organization around the house. If your partner doesn’t understand that these are not behaviors that you want to have but ones that you’re actively working to overcome, they can become offended and get their feelings hurt.

While your symptoms may make it appear that you don’t care about the other people that are around you or that you’re not taking things seriously, that’s most likely not true. It’s merely that the challenges that you face present themselves in these ways. Thankfully, there are many treatment options that you can use to overcome these symptoms and challenges in your life.

Treatment Options That Can Help

The most common forms of treatment include medication and therapy. You should consult with your primary care provider or a psychiatrist if you are interested in discussing potential medication treatment options.

Along with medication, therapy is also a popular form of treatment. Therapists can work with you to help you identify the coping strategies that you can use in your life. For example, behavioral therapy can help you to improve your self-esteem while also helping you become more aware of the behaviors that you may want to change.

While there are plenty of people that benefit from one form of treatment or the other, there are some people that benefit from a combination of the two. It’s important to discover what your best treatment plan is.

You may find that you’re struggling with other challenges such as anxiety or depression as a result of the disorder. In this case, therapy, including online therapy with mental health professionals such as those at BetterHelp, can be beneficial in helping you treat these other challenges as well.

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So, whether you are an adult that was diagnosed with ADD as a child, or you are beginning to notice the symptoms in your life now that you’re older, the diagnosis does not need to be something that stands in your way of accomplishing the goals and dreams that you have for your life. If you have questions about what the best treatment options are for you or what strategies you can use to live your best life, talk with a mental health professional or your doctor today to consider all options.


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