Many people recognize ADHD symptoms in children, such as difficulty concentrating, hyperactivity, and impulsive behaviors.
However, adult ADHD symptoms are not identical to children’s ADHD symptoms, making it harder to spot this condition in adults.
ADHD affects approximately 4.4 percent of the adult population in the U.S., making it a significant mental health condition for many people.
ADHD in adults starts in childhood and continues as the person grows up. However, the presentation of symptoms changes subtly along the way.
9 Common Adult ADHD Symptoms
In children, ADHD often produces physical hyperactivity. In an adult, this symptom may present in a more psychological way, for example, by the person changing subjects abruptly in conversation, interrupting others, or frequently shifting from one task to another.
Another ADHD symptom, disorganization, can make it challenging to take care of adult responsibilities, such as paying bills on time, remembering to do errands, and meeting deadlines at work. Many adults with undiagnosed ADHD struggle with filling out forms, returning calls and emails, and remembering appointments.
Trouble listening and remembering what others say can lead to communication problems and arguments between a person with adult ADHD and his or her partner, friends, and work colleagues. Finishing other people’s sentences, blurting information, and talking too much are common communication problems for adults with this condition.
Not Achieving Full-Potential in Education and Work
Because adults with ADHD have a hard time staying organized, listening to others, and promptly completing projects, they often do not achieve their full potential in college, jobs, and careers. Problems with teachers and supervisors and poor performance reviews are common.
Anger Management Issues
Many adults and children with ADHD symptoms struggle with controlling anger and other emotions. After an outburst, a person with adult ADHD often recovers from the negative feelings surprisingly fast, and this quick recovery can be another clue.
Traffic Accidents and Poor Driving Skills
Problems with concentration and impulsivity can wreak havoc for an adult with ADHD symptoms when driving a vehicle. Fender benders, speeding tickets, parking violations, and significant traffic accidents might be a problem.
Difficulty Starting and Finishing Tasks
Poor organizational skills and a tendency to get easily distracted make it hard for adults with this condition to start and finish projects, even when they intend to do so. An adult with ADHD may frequently present excuses or become angry when confronted about not starting or finishing tasks around the house or at work. This is an adult ADHD symptom that may get adults with ADHD in trouble at home and at work.
It’s a common adult ADHD symptom to get side-tracked while on the way to an appointment, meeting, or errand. Not accurately estimating how long it will take to drive across town or stop at a store, or do one last thing before leaving, can frequently lead to arriving late.
Low Tolerance for Frustration and Stress
Stress and frustration are a normal part of life, but for adults with ADHD, these realities can be especially challenging. Without a healthy ability to handle stress and frustration, marriages, work relationships, and friendships all suffer.
Dr. Sean Paul, MD is a board certified psychiatrist who specializes in adult ADHD and recognizing adult ADHD symptoms. If you think you or a loved one may have undiagnosed, adult ADHD, talk to your doctor or a psychologist who specializes in this condition. With the right treatment, a person can control the symptoms of ADHD diagnosed in adulthood.