Did you know that less than 20% of adults with Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) have received a diagnosis? Undiagnosed ADHD can affect every aspect of an adult’s life, making it tough to thrive.
ADHD is often diagnosed at a young age. So if you didn’t receive a diagnosis as a child, it’s often difficult to test for it as an adult. Lack of awareness concerning adult ADHD has left many people without proper treatment.
This online screening is not a diagnostic tool. Only a trained medical professional, like a doctor or mental health professional, can help you determine the best treatment for you.
ADHD is typically diagnosed in childhood when the symptoms are more pronounced. But numerous studies have confirmed that childhood ADHD can last through adulthood. Additionally, researchers speculate that a specific variant may be responsible for adult-onset ADHD.
So how do the symptoms of ADHD manifest in adulthood? As we age, we usually learn to compensate for undesirable behaviors. A child may express hyperactivity by running around and climbing furniture.
But as an adult, that would be unacceptable. Thus, adults may express hyperactivity by choosing active jobs, fidgeting in meetings, and being “always on the go.” This careful redirection of symptoms makes diagnosing ADHD in adulthood much more complicated.
Most information describing the causes of ADHD focus on children. The causes of adult-onset ADHD aren’t fully known yet. That’s why research is ongoing in the hopes of validating this sub-type of ADHD.
Science doesn’t know what causes ADHD specifically, but we have some clues. Some common causes cited by research include:
Some studies believe that adult-onset ADHD is simply due to other mental illnesses. Clinicians found a high overlap with substance abuse in many teens and adults. And some ADHD symptoms in adults may be due to depression, anxiety, or impairments.
Regardless of age, there are three types of ADHD diagnoses. But adult ADHD symptoms tend to be a little more subtle due to social conditioning. Ask yourself the following questions to determine which type you might have.
The inattentive type is often characterized by forgetfulness and lack of focus. You must show six out of the following nine symptoms to be diagnosed with ADHD Inattentive Type.
Inattention often leads to careless, preventable mistakes. If you work a highly detailed job, you might feel a lot of pressure to double-check every report. And you’ll likely find several tiny errors throughout your work.
You might often forget simple things like picking up your dry cleaning or paying bills on time. You might even forget to eat sometimes! Friends may also complain that you make plans and then forget to show up.
Sustaining attention for a long time may be tough for you. You may have trouble watching movies or doing activities that take a long time. And in university, you might have rushed through tests to finish as quickly as possible.
External stimuli are usually distracting, but you might find yourself losing focus at the slightest sound. Even internal thoughts might distract you from your task. Adults with inattentive type are often described as dreamy and “in their own world.”
Work meetings can be very boring, but do you find yourself zoning out every single time? Even when you try hard to focus, you might struggle to catch the full story. This inattention towards others may cause problems at work or in your relationships.
Going to the grocery store without your wallet or spending hours searching for your keys is a daily occurrence for you. Things just seem to disappear for you! You may have even left your phone in a taxi a few times or lost a vital report at work.
You might have a closet full of abandoned equipment for hobbies you picked up and dropped just as quickly. At work, you might struggle to follow a series of instructions. Or you may often get reprimanded by superiors for forgetting to finish tasks.
Reading lengthy papers and preparing reports might be difficult for you. You might procrastinate when it comes to more mentally strenuous tasks. These tasks might then be completed last minute with careless mistakes.
Disorganization might manifest both physically and mentally. You might have trouble organizing your home or office space. Or you may struggle to maintain a productive schedule, often forgetting essential tasks.
The hyperactive-Impulsive type is what usually comes to mind when we think of ADHD. The defining characteristics are excessive energy and weak impulse control. You should see six out of these nine signs for a Hyperactive-Impulsive ADHD diagnosis.
Tapping your feet or drumming your fingers on a desk is common for you. Sitting still might be very difficult, so you release that energy by fidgeting. These actions can make situations like meetings, church, or dates very stressful.
When someone is telling a story, do you often jump in with your own experience? Even if that person is mid-sentence, you may interrupt them without a second thought. You might not even realize you’re doing it until friends express their annoyance.
Remaining in the same position for a long time seems impossible to you. If you work in an office, chances are you’re up every few minutes to get coffee, chat with coworkers, or take a quick walk. If you’ve zeroed in on your problem, you might even choose more active jobs that don’t require sitting.
Does waiting in line at the market drive you mad? How about spending an hour on hold with customer service? These situations can be annoying for everyone, but for you, they’re downright impossible.
While hyperactive children often run around, adults exhibit this symptom as restless energy. Doing nothing is not an option for you! You may have difficulties reading, watching TV, or doing any relaxing activity.
In high school, you might have been the student that shouts out the answer before the teacher asked. At work, you might monopolize time during meetings and talk over people. You don’t do this maliciously, but you also can’t stop yourself most of the time.
Can you sit in silence, or do you have to fill every second with sound? You might need music to focus on work or a white noise machine to sleep. Your brain is always whirling with thoughts and ideas, and you may struggle to “turn it off.”
Maybe you speak more than you listen. Friends might complain that they can never get a word in, and coworkers may tire of your constant conversation. You might also seek jobs that emphasize a lot of talking, like sales or teaching.
Are people often amazed by your abundant energy? You may fill your days with more than you can take on, but get everything done regardless. This always-on-the-go mentality can leave you burnt out and exhausted.
Adults with Combined ADHD exhibit signs of inattentiveness and hyperactivity-impulsivity. It’s the most common ADHD diagnosis for adults. A patient must show six out of nine symptoms for both types for a combined diagnosis.
ADHD affects the intricate systems of an adult’s life differently than a child’s. It can create havoc in relationships, family life, and work. It might even put you in danger.
Some common signs of ADHD can affect romantic relationships, friendships, and work environments. Impatience and poor listening skills can weaken bonds and cause arguments. Friendships may deteriorate due to inattention or forgetfulness.
Studies have found that adults with ADHD can have more difficulty when it comes to job seeking. They may struggle to find a job and maintain it long-term. They may also experience problems at work when it comes to time management and task completion.
One meta-analysis found that prison inmates were five times more likely to have ADHD than others. And various studies have linked ADHD to lowered personal safety. This includes criminality and dangerous activities such as reckless driving and substance abuse.
ADHD and substance abuse have very high comorbidity. Some studies have found that one out of every six adults seeking treatment for substance abuse also had ADHD. If you suspect this describes you, you might need a dual diagnosis.
Using drugs and alcohol to self-medicate is common in undiagnosed disorders. By seeking a dual diagnosis at New Method Wellness, you’ll manage both problems at once. We offer a safe, supervised space to deal with your addiction and learn how to handle your ADHD.
Because the signs of ADHD in adults can be subtle, it might take longer to receive a diagnosis. But the good news is that it’s possible! Although the clinician will likely screen you for other disorders first.
Your clinician will likely start by asking you questions related to your symptoms. They may administer a few computerized or self-tests as well. The diagnosis will result from observing you and analyzing your symptoms and history.
ADHD is a lifelong journey, and there’s no cure. But the right treatment plan can minimize symptoms and allow you to live a rich, fulfilling life! Treatment often includes a combination of medication, behavior therapy, and lifestyle changes.
Medication is often a vital part of the treatment plan. It can allow people to live their lives mostly symptom-free. There are two options for medication: stimulants and non-stimulants.
Stimulants are often the standard for ADHD treatment. They’re available in brand names like Ritalin, Concerta, and Adderall. Stimulants increase central nervous system activity resulting in milder symptoms.
Non-stimulant options include medications like Strattera, specifically designed to treat ADHD. Sometimes doctors will prescribe anti-depressants or other pills to treat specific symptoms. You and your doctor can work together to make the right choice for your diagnosis.
Cognitive Behavior Therapy is the first line of treatment for ADHD. It has continuously shown the most impact with positive improvements. Life skills coaching and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) are additional options.
Therapy is an excellent tool for learning to recognize negative patterns. It can also help you replace unhealthy coping methods like drugs, alcohol, or avoidance. Therapy sessions can also make you feel less alone and isolated in your struggles.
Adults with ADHD often struggle with developing healthy sleep schedules and diets. Making positive lifestyle changes can help you feel more equipped to handle tough situations. Regular exercise, supplements, and relaxation techniques are recommended as well!
If you’ve taken our online ADHD test for adults and need more guidance, we’re here to help. At New Method Wellness, we offer personalized treatment for Adult ADHD.
Whether you want medication, therapy, or both, we can create a treatment plan that works for you. We also offer many exciting holistic options like surf therapy and meditation.
Contact us today to schedule a tour of our facilities or set up an appointment with one of our dedicated clinicians.
Deanna Crosby is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) with over 20 years of experience working with clients in recovery. Her expertise has catapulted her into the spotlight. Featured on several episodes of the Dr. Phil Show as a mental health expert, DeAnna is a routine contributor for NBC News, The Huffington Post, Elle Magazine, MSN, Fox News, Yahoo, Glamour, Today, and several other prominent media outlets.
After receiving her bachelor’s degree from the University of California in Irvine, Crosby did postgraduate work at Centaur University where she graduated at the top of her class with a CAADAC certification in Centaur’s chemical dependency program. Following her time at Centaur, Crosby received her Master of Counseling Psychology degree from Pacifica Graduate Institute, where she also attained a Doctoral Degree in Depth Psychology.
From all of us at New Method Wellness co-occurring treatment center, we wish you peace and serenity in knowing that you or your loved one will get the necessary help.