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ADHD Isn’t Just For Kids [9 Symptoms of ADHD in Adults]

ADHD Isn’t Just For Kids [9 Symptoms of ADHD in Adults]

Do you leave a trail of incompletes in your life? Do you ever feel you can’t just sit and finish one task before racing on to the next? You aren’t alone. Let’s spend a few moments discussing attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) symptoms in adults. When people think of ADHD, they often think of it in relation to children. However, adults can have ADHD too. 4-5% (or 8 million) of adults in the United States have ADHD, but few adults receive a diagnosis or treatment. Adults do not develop ADHD. Instead, they had it as a child and were oftentimes undiagnosed. Around 40% of children outgrow ADHD symptoms, while 60% continue to have symptoms into adulthood. ADHD symptoms vary from mild to severe and can change over time. Today we are here to share 9 symptoms of adult ADHD.


9 Symptoms of ADHD in Adults

9 Symptoms of ADHD in Adults

Dr. Manos, clinical director of the ADHD Center for Evaluation and Treatment, states, “People with ADHD have impaired directed attention. It is a challenge to use effortful attention. Instead, they avoid it and engage in automatic attention tasks instead.” We are going to break down the symptoms into two categories: inattentive symptoms and hyperactivity symptoms. It’s not a secret that everyone is inattentive at some point in their life. We all lose or misplace things, and we all have moments where we struggle to focus or get things done. However, adults with ADHD do these things to the extent that it poses a problem in the quality of life.

Inattentive Symptoms


1. Hard to stay on task

You bounce easily from one task to the next. You always say that you’re an excellent multitasker. Still, if you find yourself with seven projects, activities, or assignments all in various states of completion and you can’t seem to get anything finished, this may be a problem.


2. Challenging to listen

Do you get a glazed-over look in your eyes when others are talking to you? Do people regularly complain that you aren’t “paying attention”? Chances are you’re not intentionally ignoring them, you just thought of a funny story, and now your mind can’t wait to share its own thoughts. While many people can’t wait for their turn, if you’ve noticed you don’t listen to specifics or you seem disengaged or inattentive during conversations, this could be a sign of ADHD.


3. The details don’t matter.

Is it challenging to recall specific details you need to remember to accomplish things? For example, maybe your boss told you the report was in the drawer on the right-hand side of his desk, but you look in the left one instead. Perhaps you’re writing an email but leave out a few key points because you typed too quickly. The bottom line is you could use a little help focusing on the details of what’s happening around you.


4. Everything keeps disappearing

The laundry machine eats all your socks. The dog eats your annual reports. Your poor car keys are always displaced, and you’re considering getting a fanny pack just so you can better keep track of your phone. It’s hard to keep track of important things (or anything), and it causes extra frustration and anxiety in your life.


5. Forgetfulness

From important meetings to doctor’s appointments to the cookie timer, you can’t remember any of them. If you find yourself forgetting important details that a friend, boss, family member, or partner told you, you may come across as ignorant or inattentive to their needs.


Hyperactivity Symptoms

Hyperactivity Symptoms

It’s easier to spot hyperactivity in children than in adults. A hyperactive child is in a more controllable environment (such as a classroom) where hyperactivity is disruptive and easy to see. However, adults with ADHD may simply appear to always be in a rush or constantly overwhelmed by too many tasks because they took on too many things at once. While we all go through stressful and busy seasons of life, these symptoms may be constant and impact your overall quality of life.


1. Chronically restless

Walking around, bouncing your leg, doodling, clicking the pen: these are all signs of chronic restlessness. You feel it’s difficult to focus, and you are easily distracted. It isn’t just that you feel restless when you need to be productive. You feel restless all the time. It’s hard to stay in bed because you feel like you should be doing something constantly. If your restlessness interrupts your sleep, work, or productivity, you may struggle with ADHD.


2. Quiet activities aren’t for you.

Maybe you can’t sit still or have trouble enjoying and participating in activities like meditating, watching a movie, or reading a book without getting distracted and moving on to something else. Perhaps falling asleep is a challenge unless you have music or a movie playing in the background to distract your racing thoughts.


3. Can’t. Stop. Moving

You’re a high-energy, always-on-the-go person. You’re the ultimate multitasker and can never slow down for anything or anyone. As a result, you’ve booked every minute of your day with a task or activity, and you often get distracted with other things along the way to completing it. Many hyperactive adults get a lot done. However, adults with ADHD often tend to take on more than they can actually do, so instead of completing everything, they leave things incomplete along the way.


4. Were you saying something? Interrupting or finishing sentences

You love getting to the point and find yourself growing frustrated when others take too long to say something. You may not necessarily talk over someone while they speak, but your mind is racing faster than your mouth. So you tend to push the other person to pick up the pace and finish their thoughts so you can move on.

Diagnosing ADHD in adults


Diagnosing ADHD in Adults

There’s no one specific test used to diagnose ADHD for everyone. Typically a mental health professional or doctor will perform two detailed interviews. They will begin by looking at the following things:

  • Symptoms of ADHD that are problematic to a person’s life.
  • External factors could be causing the behavior in question.
  • The presence of another mental health disorder.

During the interviews, the professional will determine the following things:

  • Assess whether the symptoms you are currently experiencing meet ADHD criteria
  • Ask you questions to find evidence of ADHD symptoms you may have experienced during childhood.
  • Evaluate if you have any related mental health conditions that may explain your symptoms.

When a doctor diagnoses a child with ADHD, they need to present at least six symptoms in at least two different environments or settings. For example, at home or daycare. On the other hand, adults only need to present five or more in any environment.

ADHD Adult Triggers

Like other mood disorders, there are common triggers that can impact ADHD symptoms, such as:

  • Stress.
  • Lack of sleep.
  • Malnutrition and poor diet.
  • Overstimulation.
  • Changes in environmental factors like sound sensitivity, temperature, and smells.
  • Lack of genuine interest.


Remember, as Dr. Manos says, “You don’t have a disorder unless you have dysfunction.” Life is a little messy, and we all experience challenging circumstances at one point or another. Trauma, stress, financial worry, job insecurity, bills, and death can all preoccupy our attention, making us feel forgetful, restless, or a multitude of other ADHD symptoms.


Let's Talk About It

Let’s Talk About It

Please know we are not mental health professionals. There are other potential symptoms not on this list that can indicate ADHD. Our mission is to reduce stigmas related to mental health and empower people to take pride in and share their stories. While there is no prescribed cure for ADHD, there are ways to address ADHD symptoms that will help. People’s ability to overcome and adapt is incredible, and adults with ADHD can develop their personal strengths and find success. The team at Racing For Mental Health would love to hear the story of your mental health journey! Comment below or reach out to us.

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