Understanding ADHD Symptoms in Adults
ADHD Symptoms

Understanding ADHD Symptoms in Adults

Adult Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a neurological condition that leads to hyperactivity, impulsivity, and difficulty paying attention. Most adults with ADHD describe it as a constant feeling of internal restlessness and an inability to focus, making everyday tasks challenging.

Although it’s called adult ADHD, the disorder does not develop in adulthood. Rather, it starts in early childhood and continues into adulthood. Some children are never diagnosed with ADHD because the symptoms may not be clear and are sometimes associated with normal childhood behaviour. 

Many adults don’t know they have the disorder and aren’t aware that painful issues in their lives result from undiagnosed and untreated ADHD. It’s common for doctors and therapists to inquire about their patient’s past behaviours and school performance as a child during an ADHD assessment in Calgary.

Symptoms of adult ADHD

Symptoms of adult ADHD range from mild to severe and may include:

  • Excessive activity
  • Restlessness
  • Verbal impulsiveness
  • Impulsive reactions
  • Frequent mood swings
  • Difficulty concentrating ad paying attention
  • Difficulty reading
  • Difficulty prioritizing and completing tasks
  • Inability to focus
  • Hyper-focusing with the inability to break focus
  • Disorganization
  • Poor time management and planning skills
  • Hot temper
  • Difficulty coping with stress and frustrations
  • Chronic boredom
  • Chronic lateness
  • Forgetfulness

Persistent and disruptive symptoms can be traced back to childhood.

Complications with adult ADHD

ADHD can make life difficult and get individuals into a great deal of trouble. If you have adult ADHD, you might struggle with:

  • Unemployment, or moving quickly from one job to another
  • Financial problems and poor money management
  • Poor school or work performance
  • Poor physical and mental health
  • Unstable relationships
  • Alcohol or other substance misuses
  • Poor self-esteem
  • Trouble with the law

Causes and risk factors

Although the exact cause of ADHD is unclear, there are risk factors that play a role in the development of ADHD, including:

  • Genetics – Research shows that the disorder can run in families, indicating that genetics have a role. If you have a direct blood relative such as a parent or sibling with ADHD, the chances of you or your children developing the condition are higher.
  • Environment – The risk of developing ADHD increases when children are exposed to toxins such as lead or if the mother smoked, drank alcohol, or used drugs during pregnancy.
  • Premature birth – Babies born prematurely (before 37 weeks of pregnancy) have an increased chance of developing the condition. 

How is adult ADHD diagnosed?

Diagnosis of adult ADHD can be challenging because some symptoms are similar to other conditions, such as mood disorders, anxiety, and depression. ADHD is diagnosed in adults only when the symptoms are severe, causing issues in more than one area of the individual’s life. If symptoms disrupt your life or you have thoughts of suicide, it’s important to speak to your doctor and inquire about receiving an ADHD assessment.

Along with the assessment, your doctor may recommend: 

  • A physical exam to identify other medical problems that may be causing the symptoms
  • A blood test
  • Psychological testing

How is adult ADHD treated?

Depending on the severity of symptoms and individual patient conditions, ADHD treatment plans can include therapy, education, medicine, support, or a combination of these treatments. As part of a therapy treatment plan, our Calgary therapists and counsellors can help identify what triggers symptoms, including stress, certain foods, technology, poor sleep, and overstimulation. 

The goal of therapy and counselling is to help patients control ADHD-related episodes by providing the tools to recognize these triggers and make the necessary lifestyle changes. These supports can include:

  • Relaxation techniques and stress management training
  • Cognitive and behavioural therapy to help with self-esteem
  • Life coaching to help with goal-setting, staying organized, and prioritizing tasks at home and work
  • Mentorship to help with relationships and work performance

Although there is no cure for the condition, individuals with adult ADHD can find the support they need to make day-to-day life easier.

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