Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder in Adults

Medically Reviewed by Dr. K. on 12 March 2021.

What Is Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)?

ADHD is a phrase that many people are familiar with. It may bring to mind children who have difficulties paying attention, as well as those who are hyperactive or impulsive. Adults may also suffer from ADHD. It affects between 4% to 5% of adults in the United States. Adults, on the other hand, are rarely diagnosed or treated for it.

Who gets adult ADHD? Adults with ADHD often had it even when they were children. Some may have been diagnosed with the condition but were unaware. Some on the other hand, may have been undiagnosed for years, only finding out later in life.

Children do grow out of ADHD, however, around 60% of them continue to have the condition even into adulthood. Adult ADHD seems to affect men and women equally.

Adult ADHD Symptoms

If you're an adult with ADHD, you may find it difficult to:

  • Follow directions
  • Remember information
  • Concentrate
  • Organize tasks
  • Finish work on time

This can create issues in many aspects of life, including at home, work, and education. Getting treatment for ADHD and learning how to handle it will be beneficial. The majority of people learn to adapt. Adults with ADHD will also achieve fulfillment by reflecting on their own strengths.

Challenges People With Adult ADHD Face

If you have ADHD, you can have problems with the following:

  • Anxiety
  • Chronic boredom
  • Chronic lateness
  • Chronic forgetfulness
  • Depression
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Difficulty controlling anger
  • Problems at work
  • Impulsive behaviour
  • Low tolerance
  • Low self-esteem
  • Mood swings
  • Poor organization skills
  • Procrastination
  • Relationship difficulties
  • Substance abuse or addiction
  • Low motivation

These may have a huge effect on you, or they may not. They can be a problem all of the time or only when the condition calls for it.

There are no two people with ADHD who are the same. If you're interested in or enthusiastic about what you're doing, you might be able to focus if you have ADHD. However, some people with ADHD have difficulties concentrating in either case. Although some people need stimulation, others avoid it. Furthermore, some people with ADHD are socially isolated and antisocial. Others will be outgoing and jump from one relationship to the next.

Problems at School

Adults with ADHD may experience the following symptoms previously at school:

  • Poor achievement at school
  • Bad behaviour at school
  • Getting into frequent issues with teachers or classmates
  • Needing to repeat years
  • Not completing school

Problems at Work

Adults with ADHD may experience the following in the work environment:

  • higher likelihood of changing jobs often and doing poorly.
  • They are less satisfied with their jobs and have fewer professional successes.

Problems in Life

Adults with ADHD are more likely to:

  • Smoke cigarettes
  • Abuse alcohol
  • Abuse illicit drugs
  • Careless with finances
  • struggle with mental health issues like anxiety and depression

Relationship Problems

Adults with ADHD are more likely to:

  • Struggle more with marital issues
  • Higher rates of separation and divorce
  • Have multiple marriages

How Is Adult ADHD Diagnosed?

Find a doctor who has expertise in diagnosing and treating ADHD patients.

The doctor will:

  • Take a complete medical history, including family and social history
  • Conduct a complete physical examination to ensure no other underlying diagnosis
  • Carry out a blood test
  • Recommend psychological testing

Although doctors disagree about the age at which ADHD can be diagnosed, they all conclude that it should not arise in adulthood. As a result, when a doctor examines you, they will inquire about your behaviour and any previous symptoms you may have experienced. They may also:

  • Examine your child's report card. They'll be looking for remarks about poor concentration, lack of effort, or underachievement in comparison to the potential.
  • Discuss with your parents to see if you had any signs as a child.

People with ADHD may have had difficulty getting along with others like children or struggling in education. It's possible that the teachers have to work with you. Perhaps you were required to sit at the front of the room.

They'll even inquire as to whether someone else in the family suffers from ADHD. This is important information because it seems that ADHD runs in families.


How Is Adult ADHD Treated?

When a doctor diagnoses you with ADHD, you and your doctor will cooperate to create a recovery plan customised to your needs.

Medicine, counselling, schooling or learning more about ADHD, and family support will also be part of a recovery strategy.

These factors together will assist you in discovering new ways to do something that can make your day-to-day life simpler. This will make you feel better for yourself and make you feel better in general.

It is important that you get a complete physical examination by a doctor. This is attributed to the fact that people with ADHD often have other illnesses. You may also be suffering from a learning disability, anxiety or another mood condition, obsessive compulsive disorder, or a substance or alcohol addiction. Knowing the big picture will help you choose the right solution for you.

Medications to Treat Adult ADHD

Stimulants. Stimulant drugs are often prescribed to adults with ADHD. According to research, nearly two-thirds of people with ADHD who take these drugs see substantial changes in their symptoms.

Examples of stimulant medications:

  • Dexmethylphenidate
  • Dextroamphetamine
  • Amphetamine/dextroamphetamine
  • Lisdexamfetamine
  • Methylphenidate

However, stimulants aren't necessarily the best option. What is the explanation for this? They can be anything from:

  • Addictive. Stimulants are substances that are tightly regulated. As a consequence, they can be abused. Any people with ADHD have or have had drug abuse issues in the past.
  • It's difficult to remember to take. Short-acting stimulants (as opposed to long-acting stimulants) can wear off quickly. Since those with ADHD are susceptible to forgetfulness, remembering to take their drugs many times a day can be difficult.
  • It's difficult to keep track of time. People who avoid taking them in the evening can find it difficult to concentrate on housework, expenses, helping children with homework, or driving. However, if they take them later in the day, they can be tempted to “loosen up" with alcohol or other drugs.

Doctors can also suggest that you take a non-stimulant drug, either alone or in combination with a stimulant. They are as follows:

  • Atomoxetine
  • Clonidine
  • Guanfacine

Therapy and Other Behavioral Treatments

You may even inquire about incorporating this in your treatment plan:

  • Cognitive and behavioral therapy – can help with self-esteem
  • Relaxation training and stress management – lowers stress and anxiety
  • Life coaching – learn about goal setting and organisational skills for home and work
  • Job coaching or mentoring – build better work relationships and improve job performances
  • Family education and therapy – helps you and your family understand ADHD better


Referenced on 2.3.2021:

  1. Mayo Clinic: “Adult ADHD (attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder)."
  2. Attention Deficit Disorder Association.
  3. “Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)."
  4. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke: “NINDS Attention Deficit-Hyperactivity Disorder Information Page."
  5. National Institute of Mental Health: “Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)."
  6. Understood: “Understanding Executive Function Issues.”
  7. Additude: “Executive-Function Deficits in Children.”
  8. Centre for ADHD Awareness, Canada: “ADHD in the Workplace.”
  9. CHADD of Northern California: “How Adult ADHD Affects Relationships: Strategies for Coping.”
  10. CHADD: “Organization and Time Management.”

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