Children with ADHD can grow into adults with ADHD if it is never diagnosed or addressed. While it may be more evident in children, recognizing the symptoms and behaviors in adults, either in ourselves or those around us, is indeed possible. Research demonstrates up to 80% of adults with ADHD are undiagnosed. Let’s go through how to recognize and diagnose adult ADHD.
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
Formerly, many believed ADHD would resolve by young adulthood, yet it is well understood and recognized that ADHD is a genuine, persistent, neurobehavioral condition in adulthood. People with ADHD might present as disorganized, inattentive, or facing challenges. They may struggle with meeting deadlines, take on too much, exhibit constant anxiety, or seem unable to complete tasks. It’s possible that this description resonates with individuals you know, including yourself. However, it’s crucial to understand that not everyone exhibiting such traits necessarily has ADHD.
Many people procrastinate and are messy, which may be ingrained characteristics or behaviors for some. Others may feel overwhelmed and struggle to meet the expectations of others–like a professor or a boss–or that they hold for themselves. Some people may struggle to focus and concentrate when they are feeling depressed. When these traits significantly affect their life, job, relationships, and overall success, it becomes imperative to consider formal evaluation. Many adults with symptoms of ADHD were never evaluated for ADHD as children and remain undiagnosed as adults. Through comprehensive interview and formal assessments, psychiatric providers at Colony Care can diagnose and treat adults in Massachusetts with ADHD or other conditions with similar symptoms.
Symptoms of Adult ADHD
Symptoms of ADHD in adults can be mild to severe. It is a persistent pattern of behavior, not something you go through briefly, for example during a period of high stress or following significant life change, and the symptoms have been present throughout one’s life.
We all can have trouble with focus on any given day, but if it is persistent, it could be ADHD. Does this person lose track of a conversation when something happens around them? Do they look at their phone in the middle of a meeting and never come back to what’s happening? Do you stare out the window at a bird when it flies by and forget what’s happening in front of you? Struggling to stay focused on the task at hand if there is any noise or visual stimuli at home or at work is a cardinal sign.
Being reckless, speeding while driving, talking out of turn, finding it hard to sit still, interrupting others, changing jobs frequently, or having persistent money problems can all be signs of ADHD in an adult.
Difficulty Stopping Activities or Behavior
Individuals with ADHD can become hyperfocused on a particular task or activity, making it difficult for them to stop, even when they should be shifting their attention to more important or time-sensitive matters. For example, they might get engrossed in a hobby or an online game and lose track of time. Some may attempt to juggle multiple tasks simultaneously, hindering their ability to complete any one task effectively. Adults with ADHD may overeat or binge eat or spend excessive time on screens even when it interferes with their health or responsibilities.
Problems Following Through
Someone who never seems to finish projects large or small, can’t focus on the task at hand, and has difficulty prioritizing could be an adult with ADHD. Someone with many projects, and yet only 40% of each is complete, is limiting their success at work and home.
Poor Time Management
Always running late, underestimating time needed to complete tasks, unable to find keys or notes, and trouble multi-tasking are classic signs of poor time management skills.
Other symptoms include:
- Frequent mood swings, quick to anger, impatience
- Trouble coping with stress
- Poor planning
- Nervous energy and restlessness
- Difficulty with focus and attention in tasks or leisure activities
Treatment for Adult ADHD
It is believed that almost 4.5% of adults in America have ADHD, and half of those have another health or mood disorder like depression or anxiety. Mood and anxiety disorders without ADHD are even more common, yet may share many similar symptoms, behaviors, and traits of people with ADHD.
Only a professional like the affiliated clinicians at Colony Care can diagnose ADHD. A comprehensive evaluation involves an interview, which may include rating scales, assessment tools, and collateral information. Colony Care Behavioral Health offers a specialized clinician decision support tool called the IVA-2, which assesses cognitive processing to render a precise diagnosis. If you think you, or someone you love, is exhibiting traits of an adult with ADHD, find a professional with experience who can help. Counseling, cognitive behavioral therapy, or prescription medications may be the right course of action for you. Contact Colony Care by requesting a new appointment or calling (781) 431-1177 if you suspect you may be dealing with adult ADHD and want help to overcome the behaviors affecting your day-to-day life.