Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder that results in hyperactivity, forgetfulness, irritability and difficulty in organising and planning tasks. Adults who suffer from ADHD struggle with meeting deadlines and often face problems managing their relationships with other people. They face challenges in regulating their emotions and often act impulsively, leading to harmful consequences.
What are the symptoms of ADHD in adults?
The symptoms of ADHD can be divided into three broad categories:
- Hyperactivity and impulsivity
Adults who suffer from inattention often showcase these symptoms:
- Lack of attention to detail and making careless mistakes repeatedly
- Difficulty focusing on tasks that require sustained attention, such as while preparing a presentation
- Failing to listen even in the absence of an obvious distraction
- Difficulty in finishing tasks or fulfilling duties in the workplace and at home
- Poor time management and not being able to meet deadlines
- Easily misplacing things such as wallets, keys, phones, eyeglasses and so on
Adults who suffer from hyperactivity and impulsivity tend to showcase these symptoms:
- Being restless, shaking legs, and fidgeting
- Leaving seats in situations where sitting is expected (in a meeting, for instance)
- Talkative and overshare a lot
- Cutting people’s sentences in the middle
- Finding it difficult to relax, such as while watching television or reading a book
- Acting impulsively without thinking about the future consequences
Adults may also show combined signs of inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity.
These symptoms should exist in more than one setting - for example, workplace and home, home and family events, and so on. In adults, the symptoms must be present since childhood, specifically within 12 years of age. A proper assessment is important to understand that these symptoms are not a result of hostility and defiance but rather of a serious underlying disorder. It is also important to note that you must be experiencing the symptoms for at least 6 months to be clinically diagnosed with ADHD.
Your mental healthcare professional will specify the type of ADHD you have:
- Combined presentation - Showcasing symptoms of both inattentiveness, hyperactivity and impulsivity
- Predominantly inattentive presentation - Showcasing symptoms of inattentiveness but not of hyperactivity and impulsivity
- Predominantly hyperactive/impulsive presentation - Showcasing symptoms of hyperactivity and impulsivity and not of inattentiveness
ADHD interferes with daily functioning, making it difficult for you to complete tasks - both minor and major. Adults tend to face difficulty keeping their houses clean, meeting deadlines, socialising with their friends, driving cars or other vehicles and so on.
What causes ADHD?
ADHD in adults can be caused by several environmental, genetic, and psychological factors. Some of the reasons are:
- Low birth weight or premature birth (before the 9th month of pregnancy)
- Parental exposure to smoking
- Infections (for instance, encephalitis or inflammation of the tissues of the brain)
- Alcohol exposure when the child was still in the uterus
- Brain damage
- Nutritional deficiencies in the diet
The heritability of ADHD is approximately 74% according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Kids who show signs of ADHD are likely to have a parent or other blood relatives who also have ADHD.
Cultural influences play a role in detecting the signs of ADHD in an adult. Misinformation and mislabeling of ADHD is a prevalent problem that is influenced by the mainstream media.
At Rocket Health, people come to us with a genuine query, asking if they are actually suffering from ADHD or if they are overthinking because of the influence social media has. What we tell them, and what we’ll tell you as well, is to get in touch with a mental health professional (psychologist, psychiatrist, or physician) who will be able to diagnose it through an elaborative assessment and test. There are chances that the symptoms can be a result of other mental health disorder and not ADHD. A mental health professional may also get in touch with your friends, family members, colleagues, and partner to get insight into your behaviour in other social settings. Remember that this step will be taken by your mental healthcare professional only when you consent to it.
How does ADHD affect your personal and professional life?
Adults who show signs of ADHD often have poor performance at the workplace because they struggle with focusing on a task over a longer period of time. They are often reprimanded for being lazy and irresponsible when, in reality, they struggle to concentrate or follow instructions. Adults who are in managerial positions find it hard to manage their teams and oversee projects that have critical deadlines. They often find it difficult to remember vital details and communicate effectively with their team members.
They struggle to manage their house well and forget to wash dishes, pay bills on time, turn off appliances in the kitchen, buy groceries on time, call electricians or plumbers for maintenance and so on. They might also end up ruining their relationships with people because of their mood swings and difficulty in communicating effectively. Oftentimes they act impulsively (for instance, quitting their job without thinking about their savings and finances) which harms them in the long run.
How to seek help for ADHD?
Reaching out to a mental healthcare professional
A healthcare professional will help in the accurate assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of ADHD by evaluating the symptoms and severity of the disorder. They may also suggest therapies, including Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) that identifies the cognitive distortions and help develop self-esteem and overall self-image. They may also prescribe medication that can help manage mood, impulsivity and aggression.
Asking for support
Managing ADHD is hard, but managing it alone makes it a lot harder. Seeking out help from support groups or loved ones, for instance, can make the recovery process less challenging for you. If you are looking for a safe and non-judgmental space, check out our community, Cancel Stigma, to find like-minded people. With support, empathy and trust, everything gets better.
Taking care of yourself by eating right, exercising daily and sleeping well can be a good way to manage ADHD. Making time for your hobbies is also a good way to improve your focus and concentration. You can also find an accountability partner to finish everyday tasks together.
Remember that ADHD is a disorder that can be managed with proper guidance and treatment. If you find it challenging to seek professional help from doctors in an offline setting, we have got your back. Book an online consultation with our mental healthcare providers and seek professional advice that can help you overcome ADHD. Click on the button below to schedule an online consultation with our specialist!
Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders: DSM-5-TR. (2022). American Psychiatric Association Publishing.
Nigg, J., PhD. (2023, May 24). Beyond genes: Leveraging sleep, exercise, and nutrition to improve ADHD. ADDitude. https://www.additudemag.com/adhd-lifestyle-changes-food-sleep-exercise-genes-environment/#footnote3