ADHD Symptoms In Adults: What To Look Out For

By Dylan Buckley|Updated May 11, 2022

ADHD Symptoms Show Up Differently In Children And Adults

ADHD is often a lifetime disorder that starts when a person is a child or an adolescent. These early symptoms will often include the trademarks symptoms of the disorder but as an individual starts to transition into adulthood, so too will the disorder evolve and the symptoms you may have been used to when you were younger may not be as noticeable or as typical as you once thought.

For those living with ADHD, adult symptoms may become harder to deal with and if you are not sure what you should be looking for, you could be dealing with unnecessary difficulties that could be easily avoided with the right treatment method and coping strategies. Even harder, some adults may develop ADHD when they are older and may not recognize the symptoms when they come on.

If you are an adult with ADHD or believe that you may have developed ADHD in recent years, here is a list that covers some of the symptoms that adults with ADHD may experience.

ADHD Across the Years: What Is ADHD In Adults?

As we stated above, ADHD symptoms are much different in adulthood than they are in childhood or throughout adolescence, regardless of whether or not the individual started showing symptoms early on or later in life.

For example, most ADHD children's symptoms are often identified when young children are around nine or ten as it is easy to start identifying children who are manifesting symptoms such as impulsivity and hyperactivity, which can often result in an inability to concentrate and stay organized. This can result in school-related and home-related issues showing up such as fighting in between the affected child and their parents or siblings, broken objects or unfinished homework or chores, and stress on all sides. These issues can then lead to learning disabilities, self-esteem issues, and social problems. Fortunately enough, there are plenty of resources out there to help children with ADHD quickly recover and achieve success as they carry on if the disorder is caught quickly.

Once children with ADHD reach the adolescent stage, these symptoms start to develop into much more serious issues as puberty begins and social demands start to increase. What once may have been simple familial and academic issues can grow much more serious and may potentially develop into issues such as truancy, lying, running away, or committing crimes. Additionally, adolescents with ADHD may develop other mental health issues such as depression or anxiety, which can add more problems as the teenager struggles to cope with both at the same time. Although the ability to treat adolescent ADHD is still possible and very much available, it may present some issues if the teenager in question is dealing with some of the major issues listed above and refusing treatment or medication.

For those with ADHD, adults will often bear the brunt of the symptoms of this disorder. Although adult ADHD has managed to reach the spotlight in recent years, the issue is that there are far fewer studies pertaining to adult ADHD and the subsequent effects or additional issues such as adult onset ADHD. When it comes to those with ADHD, adult responses to these issues tend to fall into varying categories such as individuals who are able to successfully cope with their condition through treatment and medication, those who struggle from issues that are similar to developing problems in adolescence that reach into the much larger scope of adulthood, and those who have serious issues that require immediate psychiatric treatment.

No matter where you fall on this spectrum, the key to moving forward and dealing with your ADHD is to recognize the symptoms and to cultivate awareness around your disorder. Now that we have an idea of how ADHD evolves and how it may be impacting you, let's take a look at some of the major ADHD symptoms adults experience.

ADHD in Adults: Symptoms

If you were previously diagnosed with ADHD or if you have not been diagnosed with ADHD but believe that you may have it, here are some telltale symptoms that indicate you are dealing with the disorder rather than just experiencing a few issues in your personal and professional life.

An Inability to Get or Stay Organized

While children who are unable to stay organized will often face few repercussions for this problem, adults must stay organized in all aspects of their life in order to keep everything in order and maintain their lifestyle. Adults with ADHD may find it hard to organize things such as their finances, their schedule, or their home and even if they are able to momentarily get things together, they may have trouble following through, leading to a mess in these areas. If you have trouble staying organized in most parts of your life, this could be a symptom of adult ADHD.

ADHD Symptoms Show Up Differently In Children And Adults

An Inability to Remain Focused and Becoming Easily Distracted

Every adult has days where they seem to have trouble staying focused on the task at hand and you cannot expect yourself to always be on top of things. However, if you find that you are distracted or unfocused for most of the time that you are trying to accomplish things, this may be a sign that you have ADHD. The disorder often prevents people from properly focusing and will urge them to give into their impulses rather than staying on one task at a time, especially when that task is important. This can greatly impact professional life and make it difficult for you to keep a job.

Having Poor Listening Skills

It has been found that some adult relationships suffer when one individual has ADHD. Why is this? Well, it has been found that adults with ADHD do not always have the best listening skills, mostly due to the fact that they are easily distracted and unable to focus on a conversation for too long. If you are having issues in your relationships and it is due to your inability to properly listen to your partner or another individual, it could be ADHD. However, keep in mind that this is not necessarily true with just this symptom alone. You should keep an eye out for other symptoms that indicate a potential problem.

Restlessness or an Inability to Relax

In younger individuals, you will often see ADHD show up as intense energy that keeps the children bouncing off of the walls. Fortunately, this type of energy starts to wane as you grow up and you typically will not find an adult who is going frantic with all of their energy. That being said, ADHD will often be much harder to detect as adults will not feel super energetic but will still feel restless or unable to relax when it comes time to sit down and calm down. If you constantly feel the need to move around or have trouble when it comes to sitting down or lying down to go to bed, you may have ADHD.

An Inability to Prioritize and Meet Deadlines

Although this does fall in line with an inability to properly organize, the issue here is often impulsivity and the inability for individuals to properly prioritize their work or daily tasks. When this happens, they will often complete things late, which can become a major problem if they are having issues submitting work in their job or paying bills on time. This is problematic on its own but someone with ADHD can learn to better manage it with the proper help and skills.

Emotional Issues

The problem with adult ADHD is that it often has the ability to impact almost every area of your life. When you find that you are having issues trying to be a responsible adult, it can cause a wide variety of emotional issues and impact your self-esteem as well as your motivation to keep going despite the problems you are currently facing. This can also lead to other major mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety. If you are feeling that you are starting to develop any of these symptoms, it may be a sign of ADHD and you should always seek immediate attention if you are dealing with problems that are negatively impacting your life. There is always a solution and you are worth it!

Fatigue and Other Health Issues

We tend to think of ADHD in terms of hyperactivity but the truth is that some individuals can become so tense as a result of their disorder that they feel tired all of the time. In addition to extreme fatigue that makes it harder to do basic tasks, there may also be other health issues that arise as a result of your ADHD or from the emotional problems that stem from it. As with the above point, you should always seek out help if you are experiencing any physical or mental health problems.

Simply put, ADHD symptoms in adults can have heavy consequences on those with disorders. Our responsibilities grow as we do and ADHD can make it hard for people to keep up with those responsibilities and manage their lives. If you can relate to any of the above symptoms and believe that you may need help so that you can handle your ADHD and start living the life that you deserve, feel free to reach out to a certified counselor from BetterHelp to begin your journey today. Help is right around the corner!

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