Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder in Adults: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment

About 4% to 5% of American adults have it. But few adults are diagnosed or treated for this disorder.

Many people have heard of ADHD. It can make you think of children who have trouble paying attention or who are hyperactive or impulsive. But adults can have ADHD too.


Every adult who has ADHD had it as a child. Some may have been diagnosed. However, some may not have been diagnosed when they were young and are only discovered later in life.

While many children with ADHD outgrow it, about 60% still have it as adults. ADHD in adults seems to affect men and women equally.

ADHD symptoms in adults

If you have ADHD in adults, it may be hard for you to:

  • Follow directions.
  • Remember information.
  • To concentrate.
  • Organize tasks.
  • Finish work on time.

This can cause problems in many aspects of life: at home, at work, or at school.

Getting treatment and learning ways to manage ADHD can help.

Most people learn to adapt. And adults with ADHD can develop their personal strengths and find success.

Challenges Adults With ADHD Face

If you have ADHD, you may have problems with:

  • Anxiety.
  • Chronic boredom
  • Chronic tardiness and forgetfulness.
  • Depression .
  • Trouble concentrating while reading
  • Trouble controlling anger.
  • Problems at work.
  • Impulsiveness.
  • Low tolerance to frustration.
  • Low self-esteem.
  • Humor changes.
  • Poor organizational skills.
  • Relationship problems.
  • Substance abuse or addiction.
  • Low motivation

These can affect you a lot, or they may not bother you too much. They can be problems all the time or just depend on the situation.

No two people with ADHD are exactly the same. If you have ADHD, you may be able to focus if you are interested or excited about what you are doing.

But some people with ADHD have trouble concentrating under all circumstances.

Some people seek stimulation, but others avoid it. Also, some people with ADHD can be withdrawn and antisocial. Others can be very social and move from one relationship to another.

Problems at school

Adults with ADHD can:

  • Having a history of disgust at school and poor performance in it.
  • Getting into a lot of trouble.
  • Having to repeat a grade.
  • Leave school.

Problems at work

Adults with ADHD are more likely to:

  • Change a lot of work and have poor performance.
  • Be less happy with your jobs and be less successful at them.

Relationship problems

  • Having relationship problems.
  • Have more marital problems.
  • Separate and divorce more often.
  • Have multiple marriages.

How is ADHD diagnosed in adults?

Find a psychiatrist who has experience diagnosing and treating people with ADHD.

The doctor can:

  • Ask you to have a physical exam to make sure there are no other medical problems causing your symptoms.
  • Perform blood tests.
  • Recommend psychological tests.
  • Ask you questions about your health history.

While experts disagree on an age when ADHD can be diagnosed first, they do agree that people don’t develop it suddenly as adults.

That’s why when a doctor sees you, they will ask about your behavior and any symptoms you may have had as a child. They can also:

  • Look at school report cards. They will seek feedback on behavior problems, poor focus, lack of effort, or poor performance compared to their potential.
  • Talk to your parents to see if you had any symptoms during childhood.

People with ADHD may have had trouble getting along with others as children.

Teachers may have had to work with you. For example, perhaps you had to sit at the front of the class to better focus your attention.

They will also ask if anyone else in your family has ADHD. This can be helpful information because ADHD seems to run in families.

How is ADHD in adults treated?

If your doctor says you have ADHD, they will work together to come up with a treatment plan just for you.

Treatment plans can include medicine, therapy, education, or learning more about ADHD and getting family support.

Together, these things can help you find new ways of doing things that can make everyday life easier. That can make you feel better overall and make you feel better about yourself.

Making sure you get a thorough doctor review is important. This is because people with ADHD often deal with other conditions as well.

You may also have a learning disability, anxiety or other mood disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, or a dependence on drugs or alcohol.

Knowing the big picture can ensure that you get the best plan for you.

Medications to treat ADHD in adults

Stimulant medications

Adults with ADHD are often offered stimulant medications. Studies show that about two-thirds of adults with ADHD who take these medications have great improvements in their symptoms.

Examples of stimulant medications include:

  • Dexmethylphenidate (Focalin).
  • Dextroanfetamina (Dexedrina).
  • Anfetamina (Adderall, Adderall XR).
  • Lisdexanfetamina (Vyvanse).
  • Methylphenidate (Concerta, Daytrana, Metadata, Methylin, Ritalin, Quillivant XR).

But stimulants aren’t always ideal. Why? These might be:

Addictive : Stimulants are controlled substances. That means they can be misused. Some adults with ADHD have substance abuse problems or have had them in the past.

Difficult to remember to take:  the effects of short-acting stimulants (versus long-acting ones) can wear off quickly. Since people with ADHD can have trouble with forgetting, remembering to take them multiple times a day can be challenging.

Difficult to time:  If people choose to stop taking them at night, they may have a hard time concentrating on doing housework, paying bills, helping kids with homework, or driving. But if they take them later in the day, they may be tempted to use alcohol or other things “to relax.”

Non-stimulant medications

Doctors may also recommend a non-stimulant medication for you to take, either alone or with a stimulant. These are:

  • Atomoxetine (Strattera).
  • Guanfacine (Intuniv).
  • Clonidine (Kapvay).
  • Therapy and other behavioral treatments.

He may also recommend another type of therapy as part of your treatment:

  • Cognitive and behavioral therapy : can help with self-esteem.
  • Relaxation training and stress management : These can reduce anxiety and stress .
  • Life Coaching : It can help you set goals. Plus, it can help you learn new ways to stay organized at home and work.
  • Job training or mentoring – This can help you stay on the job. It can help you have better working relationships and improve job performance.
  • Family therapy and education : This can help you and your loved ones better understand ADHD. It can also help everyone find ways to decrease how much it affects everyone’s life.

Other things you can do to manage ADHD

Here are some things you can do on your own to make life with ADHD more manageable:

Take Medication As Directed – If you are taking medication for ADHD or any other condition, take it exactly as prescribed.

Taking two doses at the same time to catch up on missed doses can be bad for you and others; avoid self-medication. If you notice side effects or other problems, talk to your doctor as soon as possible.

Get Organized – Make daily to-do lists (be reasonable!) And work to complete them. Use a daily planner, leave notes for yourself, and set your alarm clock when you need to remember an appointment or other activity.

Breathing slowly : If you have a tendency to do things that you later regret, such as interrupting others or getting angry at others, manage the urge by pausing.

Count to 10 while breathing slowly instead of acting. Usually the impulse will pass as quickly as it appeared.

Reduce distractions : If you get distracted by loud music or television, turn it off or wear earplugs. Move to a quieter place or ask others to help you keep things from distracting you.

Burn Extra Energy – You may need a way to get rid of some energy if you are hyperactive or feeling restless. Exercise or another hobby can be good options.

Asking for help : We all need help from time to time, and it’s important not to be afraid to ask for it. If you have upsetting thoughts or behaviors, ask a counselor if they have any ideas you can try to help control them.