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20 symptoms of ADHD in adults.

What behaviors are typical for individuals with ADHD? 20 symptoms of ADHD in adults.

Table of Contents:

ADHD is a disorder often associated with children, but it also affects adults. While this information was not widely known until recently, it is now understood that ADHD can manifest in adult life as well. What are the symptoms of ADHD in adults? Here are 20 signs indicating psychomotor hyperactivity in adults.

Fun Fact

ADHD is a disorder whose first signs typically appear in early childhood. Approximately 8% of children exhibit symptoms of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). It is commonly assumed that ADHD primarily affects children, especially since typical symptoms become apparent when a child starts education (around ages 6-9). However, in reality, about 75% of individuals with ADHD do not “outgrow” the disorder, and symptoms in adulthood can lead to worsening problems.
  • ADHD in adults can be a significant challenge. Impulsive behaviors resulting from this disorder often make it difficult to perform professional duties and establish and maintain lasting relationships with others.
  • ADHD, or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, is a disorder that occurs in approximately 5% of the adult population. However, according to some sources, the actual number of people affected by this disorder may be significantly higher than indicated by available statistics.
  • Therapy for adults with ADHD is effective when it is comprehensive, meaning it involves a combination of different treatment methods. Such an integrated approach typically includes both pharmacotherapy and psychological or behavioral interventions.

Unfortunately, the problem lies in the lack of adequate awareness and publicity about ADHD, especially in the context of adult patients. In Poland, there is also a shortage of specialists dealing with the diagnosis and therapy of ADHD in adults. Throughout the country, there are only a few dozen therapists specializing in this field.

What are the symptoms of ADHD in adults?

The main symptoms of ADHD (attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder) include excessive irritability, difficulty controlling emotions, trouble forming relationships, impatience, and mood swings. In children, these symptoms are often attributed to the challenging adolescent period and coping with new situations. Caregivers may expect the difficult behaviors of the child to pass with time. However, in most cases, ADHD does not disappear, but the symptoms change and their intensity varies.
ADHD manifests differently in adults than in children. Characteristic of adults with this disorder are low self-esteem, low self-worth, and a tendency to compare oneself with others. These feelings can exacerbate the difficulties faced by adults with ADHD. Additionally, it is worth noting that ADHD does not manifest with identical symptoms in every individual, meaning that different people may experience different symptoms. A key element in coping with the disorder is undergoing therapy.
Watch a short video with a quick rundown of typical behaviors for individuals with ADHD!

Oto lista 20 potencjalnych objawów, które mogą występować u osób pełnoletnich z ADHD:

Adults with ADHD often experience problems with memory and organization, leading to losing items and forgetting important matters. This can be observed in everyday situations such as:
  • Forgetting appointments: Losing track of upcoming events or scheduled meetings, even if they were planned in advance.
  • Losing keys or wallet: Regularly forgetting where everyday items were left, often leading to frustration and rush.
  • Missing important deadlines: Forgetting important dates, such as loved ones’ birthdays or filing deadlines.
Such situations can cause stress and a sense of overwhelm, especially when they occur frequently and impact daily life.
Adults with ADHD may exhibit a tendency towards impulsive emotional reactions, which can lead to tensions in personal and professional relationships. Typical situations include:
  • Rapid emotional responses: Reacting with anger or frustration in situations that require diplomacy or calmness, such as during discussions with a partner or at work.
  • Making hasty decisions: Impulsive decisions without considering the consequences, which can lead to financial, professional, or relationship problems.
Such behaviors can be a source of conflicts and misunderstandings, making it more challenging to maintain stable and harmonious relationships. It’s important for individuals with ADHD to be aware of the impact of their impulsivity on others and learn strategies to cope with it.
Adults with ADHD may struggle to maintain attention during conversations, manifesting in various ways:
  • Missing key information: This can lead to misunderstanding important points of the discussion or forgetting crucial details.
  • Distracted by external stimuli: Even minor sounds or movements in the environment can divert attention, making it difficult to focus on the conversation.
Such difficulties can lead to misunderstandings and frustration for both the individual with ADHD and their conversation partners. Therefore, it’s valuable to work on techniques to improve concentration and active listening to minimize these issues.
Individuals with ADHD often encounter difficulties in memorizing important information, including dates and events. This leads to various problematic situations:
  • Forgetting birthdays or anniversaries: This can lead to embarrassment and may be perceived as a lack of interest in close relationships.
  • Missing important work or personal meetings: This can lead to conflicts at work or in personal relationships.
Such forgetfulness of key information can be a source of stress and affect the reputation of the individual with ADHD. Using supportive tools such as digital calendars, reminders, or planners can help in better organizing and remembering important dates.
Adults with ADHD may tend to talk more than average, which can lead to difficulties in communication: – Dominating conversations: This can lead to monopolizing discussions and not allowing others to speak. – Speaking impulsively: Speaking without considering the consequences, which can lead to unintended offense or misunderstandings. Excessive talking and difficulty controlling speech can lead to social awkwardness and problems in maintaining healthy relationships. Working on communication skills and being aware of one’s tendencies can help better manage these challenges.
For individuals with ADHD, situations requiring patient waiting, such as standing in a queue, can be particularly challenging:
  • Mounting frustration: The waiting time can trigger increasing feelings of irritation and impatience.
  • Difficulty maintaining composure: Individuals with ADHD may struggle to stay calm in static situations, leading to uncomfortable or inappropriate reactions.
Such challenges associated with patient waiting can lead to social discomfort and negatively impact daily experiences. Awareness of this tendency and the use of relaxation or distraction techniques can help manage irritation.
People with ADHD often exhibit impatience in interactions with others, which manifests in specific behaviors:
  • Finishing other people’s sentences: A tendency to interrupt and finish sentences of others, which can be perceived as disrespectful or disinterested in what they have to say.
  • Quick reaction without thinking: Responding to questions or comments before the speaker finishes them, leading to misunderstandings.
Lack of patience and finishing sentences for others can lead to conflicts and misunderstandings in relationships. Working on awareness of one’s reactions and practicing patience can help improve communication and mutual understanding.
People with ADHD often encounter difficulties in organization and multitasking:
  • Struggles with maintaining order: Difficulties in maintaining organization in daily life, work, or home, which can lead to chaos and stress.
  • Issues with performing multiple tasks simultaneously: Performing more than one task at a time can be challenging, often resulting in inefficiency or mistakes.
Disorganization and problems with multitasking can significantly impact productivity and daily functioning. Adopting strategies such as creating to-do lists, prioritization, and focusing on one task at a time can help in better coping with these challenges.
Procrastination is a common issue among adults with ADHD, characterized by delaying or avoiding task completion until they become urgent:
  • Increased stress and tension: Putting off tasks until the last minute often leads to heightened stress and time pressure.
  • Impact on work quality: Rushed work is often of lower quality and may contain errors.
Procrastinating tasks until the last minute can lead to a cycle of chronic stress and dissatisfaction. Adopting time management techniques such as planning ahead, setting realistic deadlines, and breaking down larger tasks into smaller, more manageable parts can help break the habit of procrastination.
People with ADHD often experience difficulties in maintaining concentration, which manifests in various aspects of life:
  • Difficulty focusing on tasks: Even simple tasks may seem challenging to complete due to easy distractibility.
  • “Daydreaming”: Engaging in deep thought and losing touch with reality, which can hinder active participation in conversations or meetings.
Such attention deficits can lead to problems at work and in personal relationships. Adopting concentration-improving techniques such as meditation, mindfulness exercises, or scheduling short relaxation breaks can help increase focus.
People with ADHD may have a tendency to interrupt others, which can affect the quality of communication:
  • Unconscious Interruption: Individuals with ADHD often don’t realize they are cutting into someone else’s speech, which can be perceived as a lack of respect or interest in what the other person is saying.
  • Impulsive Reactivity: Quick responses without waiting for the other person to finish their thoughts, which can lead to misunderstandings and frustration.
Such behavior can create tensions in relationships and professional meetings. Working on awareness of one’s own behavior and active listening can help improve interactions with others and build better communication relationships.
People with ADHD often experience challenges related to concentrating on longer or more demanding tasks:
  • Frequent distraction: Problems with maintaining focus while reading or watching a movie, which can result in the need to repeatedly return to the same section.
  • Easily distracted by surroundings: Even minor external stimuli, such as sounds or movements, can interrupt concentration and divert attention from the task.
Such difficulties can be frustrating and limit the ability to enjoy activities that require sustained focus. Using techniques such as selecting a quiet environment, setting short-term goals, or using visual and auditory aids can support better concentration.
People with ADHD may have difficulty concentrating on details, often resulting in making mistakes:
  • Overlooking important information: In work or daily activities, such oversights can lead to inaccuracies or incompleteness in tasks.
  • Mistakes due to haste: Acting quickly without focusing on details can result in errors that later need to be corrected.
Inadequate attention to details can negatively impact work efficiency and interpersonal relationships. Adopting strategies such as thorough checking of completed work, taking notes, or planning additional time for review and correction can help increase accuracy and reduce the number of mistakes.

Individuals with ADHD often experience restlessness and discomfort during prolonged sitting:

  • Restlessness during long meetings or events: It can be difficult to stay in one place for an extended period without feeling restless or the need to move around.
  • Frequent standing and walking: The need for movement may lead to frequent standing, which can be distracting to others and difficult to understand in certain environments, such as an office.

Such restlessness can pose a challenge in environments requiring prolonged sitting and focus, such as the workplace or lectures. Implementing relaxation techniques, taking short movement breaks, or even using standing desks can help better manage the need for movement.

People with ADHD often develop various motor habits as a way to cope with excess energy or restlessness:
  • Unconscious behaviors: Actions like nail biting or finger tapping are often done unconsciously as a way to relieve tension.
  • Need for constant movement: Drawing, tapping feet, or other movements can help with focus or dealing with impatience.
While these motor habits can be helpful for self-regulation, they are sometimes perceived as inappropriate or distracting by others. Being aware of these behaviors and finding less intrusive ways to cope with restlessness, such as using fidget toys or relaxation techniques, can be beneficial.
People with ADHD often have a tendency to initiate multiple projects or tasks at once but may struggle with bringing them to completion:
  • Shifting interests: A tendency to switch from one task to another without finishing the previous one, often due to loss of interest or the emergence of a new idea.
  • Excessive ambition: Planning and starting more projects than can realistically be completed in a given time frame.
Such behaviors can lead to frustration and a sense of overwhelm due to unfinished tasks. Learning to set priorities, focusing on one task at a time, and employing time management techniques such as planning and setting realistic goals can help better organize work and increase productivity.
Individuals with ADHD often appear to be multitasking, but in reality, they may struggle with effectively managing multiple tasks at once:
  • Attention Switching: Rapidly moving from one task to another without truly focusing on any of them, which often leads to decreased efficiency.
  • Constant Need for Movement: Frequent changes in activity or position, which may be a result of restlessness or excess energy.
Such apparent multitasking and continuous movement may seem productive but often do not lead to the effective completion of tasks. Adopting strategies focused on one task at a time and setting short breaks for physical activity or changing the environment can help in better managing energy and concentration.
Individuals with ADHD often experience a constant feeling of internal restlessness and impatience, which can manifest in various aspects of life:
  • Constant Feeling of Restlessness: Difficulty with relaxing and a continuous feeling of anxiety, even in situations that should not provoke stress.
  • Impatience in Daily Situations: Problems with waiting for one’s turn, listening to others without interrupting, or waiting for the outcomes of actions.
This continuous feeling of anxiety and impatience can be exhausting both for the person with ADHD and for those around them. Finding effective ways to manage these feelings, such as relaxation techniques, regular physical activity, or meditation, can help reduce their intensity and improve overall well-being.
Individuals with ADHD may have trouble predicting the outcomes of their actions and proper planning, which results in some specific difficulties:
  • Rash Decisions: A tendency to make decisions without fully considering the potential consequences, which can lead to problems in personal or professional life.
  • Issues with Long-term Planning: Difficulties in setting and achieving long-term goals due to challenges in foreseeing the outcomes of actions.
Such difficulties with planning and foreseeing consequences can lead to impulsive and often reckless decisions. Working on developing planning skills, setting realistic goals, and seeking advice and support from professionals can help in better managing these challenges.
Hyperfocus is a phenomenon that occurs in some individuals with ADHD and involves focusing attention on a single task or topic to a degree that exceeds normal concentration ability. Contrary to the common belief that individuals with ADHD struggle with concentration, hyperfocus can be a paradoxical symptom that enables a person to intensely engage in a specific activity. Here are several characteristics of hyperfocus in individuals with ADHD:
  1. Intense Concentration: A person with hyperfocus can concentrate on one task or topic to an extent that seems to be above average. This ability to intensely focus attention can last for hours or even days.
  2. Forgetting About Surroundings: During hyperfocus, a person may be so deeply concentrated on their activity that they forget about their environment. They might ignore external stimuli, not noticing changes around them or the passage of time.
  3. Difficulty Disengaging: Exiting hyperfocus can be difficult for a person with ADHD. Even when a task is completed or no longer as relevant, the individual may be resistant to moving on to other tasks.
  4. Tasks Related to Interests: Hyperfocus often occurs in the context of activities related to interests. An individual with ADHD may intensely devote attention to topics or projects that fascinate them, neglecting other responsibilities.
  5. Efficiency in Action: During hyperfocus, a person can be extremely efficient in performing a specific task, contrasting with other situations where they may struggle to maintain attention.
It’s important to emphasize that while hyperfocus can be beneficial in certain situations, it can also lead to problems, especially if it causes neglect of other duties, relationships, or leads to burnout. Individuals with ADHD often experience different forms of concentration, both difficulties in focusing and episodes of hyperfocus. Effective management of ADHD requires understanding and managing both these forms of concentration. More on this topic can be found in our article available here.

Treatment of ADHD in adults - what does it look like?

Treatment of ADHD in adults relies on a comprehensive approach, which typically includes a combination of behavioral therapies, psychotherapy, and, in some cases, pharmacotherapy. Behavioral therapy focuses on assisting patients in developing organizational skills and time management, as well as learning strategies to cope with the typical challenges posed by ADHD, such as difficulties with concentration, impulsivity, and emotion management. Psychotherapy, including cognitive-behavioral therapy, can aid in addressing emotional issues and improving social skills, often exacerbated by ADHD symptoms. Pharmacotherapy, often utilizing stimulants or non-stimulants, can also be an important component of treatment, aiding in regulating certain brain functions and alleviating ADHD symptoms, such as excessive activity, concentration problems, and impulsivity. It is important for treatment to be individually tailored to the needs of the patient and may also include support in the form of counseling or coaching, aimed at aiding daily functioning. Key also is the education of the patient and their family about ADHD, which can contribute to a better understanding of the disorder and more effective coping with it in everyday life.
This article is not a substitute for medical advice. If you suspect ADHD in yourself or someone you know, remember that the only way to diagnose it is through consultation with a specialist!

Are you seeking support or looking for people similar to yourself? Feel free to join a closed Facebook group dedicated to adults with ADHD!