ADHD is most commonly associated with school-age children, but studies indicate that approximately 3-4% of adults across the globe1 are also affected. Untreated, this can be hugely problematic, causing difficulties in work, relationships, and with personal safety. Here we discuss common signs of ADHD in adults and what to do if you think you or a loved one might be affected.
ADHD is characterized by three core symptoms: hyperactivity, difficulty sustaining attention, and increased impulsivity.
In children these qualities are usually easy to spot: your child might have difficulty sitting still, paying attention at school, and thinking through decisions, for example.
However, in adults these characteristics are more readily masked. For instance, adult lives are often less structured than those of school aged children, and adults with ADHD have often had to develop coping strategies to overcome their difficulties.
Signs that you might have adult ADHD include:
Naturally, these tendencies can have a large impact on work and social relationships, and if their cause has not been explained, sufferers can be left feeling like they are less competent, intelligent, or likeable than their peers.
Like other psychological conditions, ADHD is only a problem when it has a negative impact on your health and/or happiness. Many people live with ADHD and have an excellent quality of life; however, it is also important to note that ADHD is associated with certain difficulties. For this reason, it is completely appropriate to seek support if you feel you need it.
Perhaps the gravest risk associated with ADHD is the risk of accident or injury. Because people with ADHD have a tendency to be impulsive, studies have found that adults with ADHD are more likely to have a serious accident than non-sufferers2.
Studies3have also shown that ADHD can have a widespread negative impact on core areas of day-to-day life. For instance, adults with ADHD are statistically less likely to find and maintain stable employment, which can cause financial difficulties. Furthermore, they are more likely to be divorced, more likely to get into trouble with the criminal justice system, and less likely to graduate from university than peers without ADHD.
In addition, ADHD in adulthood is often associated with over-reliance on recreational drugs4. If you have concerns about addiction, click here to find out more.
If you suspect that you, or someone close to you, might be suffering with ADHD, then it is advisable to get a professional assessment – your GP should be able to help with this.
Additionally, you may wish to see a psychiatrist, who might prescribe medication that can help you to focus your attention better. Similarly, psychologists can help you to develop coping strategies to minimise the impact of your ADHD on your day-to-day life. Psychologists and counselors are also well placed to discuss the emotional impact of your diagnosis in a safe and containing environment.
Finally, if you find that you have difficulties sustaining attention and that this is impacting your memory, then check out Professor Narinder Kapur’s Top Ten Memory Tips. Often, subtle adjustments to your living environment can be a simple solution to ADHD related memory difficulties.
Adult ADHD is relatively common, but not everyone is aware of it or how devastating the impact can be on your health and happiness. Fortunately, treatment is available.
If you think you might have ADHD, and/or you would like help managing your symptoms, call 0203 326 9160 to see how we can help.
Clinical Partners is the UK’s largest private mental health partnership, helping children, adults, families and organisations nationwide.
1 Fayyad, J., De Graaf, R., Kessler, R., Alonso, J., Angermeyer, M., Demyttenaere, K., ... & Lepine, J. P. (2007). Cross-national prevalence and correlates of adult attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. The British Journal of Psychiatry, 190(5), 402-409.
2 Chang, Z., Quinn, P. D., Hur, K., Gibbons, R. D., Sjölander, A., Larsson, H., & D’onofrio, B. M. (2017). Association between medication use for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and risk of motor vehicle crashes. JAMA psychiatry, 74(6), 597-603.
3 Young, S. (2000). ADHD children grown up: an empirical review. Counselling Psychology Quarterly, 13(2), 191-200.
4 Sobanski, E., Brüggemann, D., Alm, B., Kern, S., Deschner, M., Schubert, T., ... & Rietschel, M. (2007). Psychiatric comorbidity and functional impairment in a clinically referred sample of adults with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). European archives of psychiatry and clinical neuroscience, 257(7), 371-377.