Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is often considered a childhood condition, but it frequently persists into adulthood. Around 2.5% of adults in the UK live with ADHD. However, many remain undiagnosed due to a lack of awareness of how ADHD presents in adults. If you relate to several of the following signs and symptoms, it may be worthwhile to seek an ADHD assessment.
People with ADHD struggle to concentrate on tasks, especially those they find mundane or unstimulating. You may have problems maintaining focus during work meetings, conversations or while completing chores. No matter how hard you try to concentrate, your mind ends up wandering.
Disorganisation and Forgetfulness
Adults with ADHD often feel overwhelmed by the demands of everyday life due to being disorganised and forgetful. You may frequently misplace items, struggle to keep on top of paperwork and appointments or fail to pay bills on time. Lots of sticky notes and phone reminders may not resolve these issues.
Poor Time Keeping
Being frequently late is a hallmark of ADHD. You may chronically underestimate the time needed to get ready and struggle to stick to schedules and deadlines. This can negatively impact your work performance and relationships – even if you try your hardest to be punctual.
Making impulsive decisions in the moment without fully considering potential consequences is common with ADHD. This may involve excessive spending, impulsive eating choices, substance misuse or risky sexual behaviours. Frequently acting on impulse can sabotage your goals and get you into trouble.
The emotional turmoil of ADHD can emerge as hot-headedness, mood swings and emotional outbursts. You may find frustrations quickly bubble over into disproportionate emotional reactions. Calming yourself down once you are upset feels impossible. This emotional sensitivity can torpedo your relationships and self-esteem.
While people with ADHD often struggle to concentrate on mundane tasks, they may paradoxically enter a state of profound focus when highly stimulated. Known as hyperfocus, you become completely engrossed in activities you find exciting, losing track of all else around you – sometimes for hours on end without a break.
Restlessness and Fidgeting
Excess movement and restlessness are more associated with ADHD in childhood but remain common in adults, too. You might tap your fingers, shake your legs, get up frequently, fidget, or play with nearby objects without realising when sitting at your desk or in meetings. Colleagues may see this fidgeting as annoying or disruptive behaviour which can lead to problems at work.
Seeking an ADHD Assessment
If you see your own struggles reflected in several of the signs above, consider seeking an ADHD assessment for adults from your GP or a private clinic. Getting evaluated involves an interview discussing your symptoms and their impact, plus your medical, family, and psychological history.
An ADHD assessment determines if your difficulties align with ADHD diagnostic criteria as outlined in the DSM-5 or ICD-11. It’s important to rule out other potential causes, too. With an accurate diagnosis, you can access helpful treatments and support.