Have you ever had trouble concentrating, found it hard to sit still, interrupted others
during a conversation or acted impulsively without thinking things through? Can you
recall times when you daydreamed or had difficulty focusing on the task at hand?
Most of us can picture acting this way from time to time. But for some people, these and
other exasperating behaviors are uncontrollable, persistently plaguing their day-to-day
existence and interfering with their ability to form lasting friendships or succeed in
school, at home and with a career.
Experts used to believe children would grow out of ADHD by the time they were adults.
In recent years, it’s been recognized that ADHD can continue on into adulthood. This
relatively recent acceptance of adult ADHD means that many adults remain
undiagnosed and aren’t aware their symptoms and behaviours are actually part of an
Unlike other mental disorders such as depression, ADHD does not start in adulthood.
Adult ADHD is a continuation of ADHD from childhood. The main difference is in the type
of difficulties and symptoms experienced. Adults are less likely to have intense
Rather than problems at school, its work lives and relationships that prove troublesome.
Instead of hyperactivity, one is likely to feel restless, fidget a lot, have difficulty relaxing
and feel on edge a lot of the time.
A typical ADHD adult may have gone through life being constantly misunderstood:
One’s behavior and actions may have caused difficulties with teachers, friends and work
colleagues. One may have been called clumsy, hyper, rude, abrupt, lazy, insensitive and
irresponsible. Smoking, drinking alcohol and, in some cases, drug taking are also more
common among ADHD adults.
What are the symptoms of adult ADHD?
Like childhood ADHD, adults share the symptoms of inattention, impulsiveness and
hyperactivity. For some adults, the hyperactivity part of things calms down and is more
controllable as they get older.
Adults can experience ADHD in different ways, but some of the common symptoms
- Concentration problems
- Forgetfulness and poor short-term memory
- Lack of organization
- Problems with creating and maintaining routines
- Lack of self-discipline
- Impulsive behaviour
- Low self-esteem
- Restless mind
- Poor time management
- Impatience and frustration
- Poor social skills and making inappropriate remarks
- Feelings of underachievement.
Diagnosis difficulties with adult ADHD
As an adult, getting a diagnosis of ADHD is not straightforward. ADHD adults will have
experienced their symptoms for most of their life and, despite frustration, are likely to
have reluctantly accepted them as part of their unique make-up. Some will have learnt to
develop their own coping strategies and may remain unaware they have a recognisable
condition. In most instances it’s friends, family or work colleagues who instigate a visit to
What treatment is available?
Although there’s no complete cure for ADHD, a number of treatments can significantly
help with the management and control of symptoms. The most appropriate treatment
regime varies according to individual needs and set of symptoms. The best treatment
should accommodate all areas of need.
Treatment focuses on helping behaviour, emotional problems and social difficulties
caused by ADHD. The main treatments for adult ADHD are:
It helps one learn about the disorder and ways to manage it effectively. For example,
manage and maintain daily schedules better through making lists, cope with large
projects at work by breaking them down into smaller chunks.
Psychotherapy helps treat the emotional disturbances of people with ADHD. Sessions
can take place:
- on a one-to-one basis with a professional
- in a group
- in conjunction with a partner if relationship difficulties are the main problem.
Psychotherapy can help remove or modify troublesome emotional symptoms and help
you cope with the daily challenges of living with ADHD.
Is usually used alongside other therapies; The most common medication for adults is
stimulants, but some people benefit from taking antidepressants – particularly if they
have co-existing symptoms such as anxiety and mood swings.
It is important to note that a treatment plan is developed according to the
individual needs of each person.