ADHD in Adults
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ADHD in Adults

ADHD in Adults

It is a common misconception that kids outgrow ADHD, and 60 percent of children diagnosed with ADHD have symptoms into adulthood. Symptoms of ADHD in adults may be more subtle, but can create significant challenges in daily life.

ADHD is a neurobehavioral disorder that affects the way an individual functions in different settings. A person with ADHD may face life-long challenges in school, work, and personal relationships. Identifying the disorder and finding the best treatment is very important. With proper treatment, many people with ADHD can and do lead successful lives.

Adults often develop strategies to cope with their ADHD. Each day of an adult’s life brings new responsibilities, duties, and challenges which may eventually overwhelm these coping strategies.

ADHD Symptoms Impact Adults Differently Than Kids

Adults and children often share the same core symptoms of ADHD — inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity — which represent deficits in neurobehavioral development. However, the impact of ADHD is different at different ages. The impairments in functioning related to ADHD depend on the life context of the individual and how symptoms are perceived by others.

  In Children In Adults
  • Easily distracted
  • Does not finish things
  • Poor time management
  • Difficulty following instructions
  • Squirms or fidgets
  • In constant motion
  • Restlessness
  • Impatience
  • Blurts out answers
  • Cannot take turns
  • Irritability
  • Interrupting others


Recognizing Adult ADHD

ADHD is divided into three different presentations. In people 17 and older, the DSM-5 states they should have at least five symptoms from the lists below.

The criteria of adult ADHD in symptoms for a diagnosis of ADHD:

Inattentive presentation

  • Fails to give close attention to details or makes careless mistakes
  • Has difficulty sustaining attention
  • Does not appear to listen
  • Struggles to follow through on instructions
  • Has difficulty with organization
  • Avoids or dislikes tasks requiring a lot of thinking
  • Loses things
  • Is easily distracted
  • Is forgetful in daily activities

Hyperactive-impulsive presentation

  • Fidgets with hands or feet or squirms in chair
  • Has difficulty remaining seated
  • Extreme restlessness in adults
  • Difficulty engaging in activities quietly
  • Adults will often feel inside like they were driven by a motor
  • Talks excessively
  • Blurts out answers before questions have been completed
  • Difficulty waiting or taking turns
  • Interrupts or intrudes upon others

Combined inattentive & hyperactive-impulsive presentation

  • Has symptoms from both of the above presentations