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ADHD in Adults

By: Julia Pendower - Updated: 16 Nov 2016 | comments*Discuss
Adhd Adult Adhd Symptoms Attention

ADHD or ADD is the abbreviation for Attention Deficit Disorder. ADHD is not just a problem that affects children; it also causes a wide range of problems in adults. Whilst experts used to believe that children would eventually grow out of ADHD by the time they reached adulthood, it is now widely recognised that the condition can continue past adolescence.

There are probably many adults in the UK who were never diagnosed with ADHD as children, and who have accepted their behaviour traits as part of their character. They may have developed a range of coping strategies in life which may or may not work for them. Usually it is only when things have gone badly wrong that help is sought so that the disorder can be identified.

For many, a crisis point is reached because of problems with unemployment, depression or because individuals are frequently getting into trouble with the authorities; it is at this point that professional help is sought. However, even then it is quite possible that a diagnosis of ADHD may be missed.

Despite the fact that adult ADHD can cause a wide range of problems which can become overwhelming in an ADHD sufferer, many physicians and individuals may still fail to recognise that the traits shown are part of an identifiable and treatable medical condition.

Is Adult ADHD Different?

Unlike many other health disorders that affect the mind, ADHD starts in childhood and its onset will not occur in adulthood. Up to 60% of children with ADHD will keep showing symptoms into adulthood, and it is estimated that between 2 - 4% of adults in the UK have ADHD; the majority of these cases are likely to be undiagnosed.

Whilst adults are less likely to have an intense degree of hyperactivity, they are frequently likely to:

  • feel restless
  • be on edge most of the time
  • be prone to fidgeting and have great difficulties in relaxing.

Added to this, many problems may arise from undiagnosed childhood ADHD leading to severe problems with low self esteem, self belief and a very low sense of self worth in adulthood. All of these problems can lead to profound problems with depression and other psychological illnesses, and in many cases ADHD adults can take refuge in alcohol, drugs or substance abuse.

Problems with Work, Jobs and Relationships

ADHD adults may have frequently changed jobs, and will always prefer a job that keeps them busy and active to keep their minds occupied. However, adults with ADHD may frequently have problems with holding down a job, and maintaining adult relationships are frequently troublesome. Friends and work colleagues frequently refer to adult ADHD sufferers as being hard to work with, rude, unfriendly or abrupt.

Additionally, adult sufferers of ADHD are often accused of being insensitive and irresponsible in their general behaviour. All of these traits make holding down a job difficult, and adults with ADHD frequently feel that they are misunderstood. Not surprisingly, there is also an abnormally high incidence of failed relationships and marriages amongst adult sufferers of ADHD or ADD.

Adult ADHD Symptoms

The symptoms of inattention, impulsiveness and hyperactivity are also present in adult ADHD; however, if the symptoms of hyperactivity are present, they may be less severe than those experienced in childhood. Additionally, the symptoms shown by an adult ADHD sufferer will change as the years go by.

Common adult ADHD symptoms include:

  • Problems with concentration, and a restless mind
  • Poor short term memory and forgetfulness
  • Poor organisation in day to day life
  • Difficulty in creating and maintaining routines
  • A lack of self-discipline
  • Impulsive or apparently thoughtless behaviour
  • Depression and low self-esteem
  • A feeling of restlessness and edginess
  • Impulsiveness and frequent outbursts of anger and frustration
  • Poor time management
  • Poor social skills
Diagnosing and treating ADHD in an adult can produce marked benefits and improvements in quality of life for sufferers of the condition. Medication and particularly behavioural therapy can help adults to manage and modify their symptoms and behaviours.

If you suspect that you or a loved one may be suffering from ADHD, seek help and guidance from your health provider. There is much that can be done to help.

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Stumbled upon this. Not really computer literate. You are describing me. What I hate most is my wife continually shouting at me that I "just don't get it" when I don't know what I am supposed to get. I could go on an on agreeing with what I have read here. I'll be back when I've figured a route to a diagnostic assessment. My wife will seriously object - wait and see. Thanks folks I feel supported. Eddie
Fast Eddie - 16-Nov-16 @ 10:33 AM
My son has had problems since he was born but never diagnosed he has been in lots of trouble with the authorities and broken relationships. He self medicated and has in the past turned to drugs and alcohol . He had a brief nhs consultation with a psychiatrist who was confident he has adhd but his doctor won't agree funding for official diagnosis. We can't afford a lot but our life and his is under extreme pressure. My husband is disabled and my sons behaviour makes him worse. What can I do to get him diagnosed as we are struggling alone with a massive problem. My son is 37 yrs and has to live with us.
Sue - 17-Sep-16 @ 6:57 PM
I am also 50 years old and have also just been diagnosed with ADHD (inattentive type).In response to the lady above, I have been suffering a range of physical health issues associated with stress over the years.I watched a lecture on the internet one night about ADHD in adults.I cried and cried afterwards.I could not beleive the Doctor had just described my whole life - all of a sudden everything made sense:my hatred of myself (because i can't manage certain things others can), Because i talk too much and know this sometimes irritates people, because I am hyper sensitive to criticsm, because i have always suffered extreme mood swings (that don't last long but they are really debilitating when they come), I can procrastinate a lot and hyper focus, and have always wondered why I always get so stressed out.Things got a whole lot worse when my partner suddenly passed away 2 years ago and I started suffering from chronic migraine TOO AND THE SYMPTOMS OF MY adhd seemed to get worse.My Son was diagnosed with ADHD aged 15 but I still did not twig that I had it because I am not hyperactive!However in watching this aforementioned film, the truth was revealed and i went to my GP and said:You have been spending money patching me up from all my stress related illness for years, I think i know whats wrong with me, I think I have ADHD.I don't want to be patched up any more, I WANT TO GET TO THE ROOT OF MY PROBLEMS.My Gp referred me straight to a Psychiatrist and a few weeks later after a number of mainly written tests, my psychaiatris says he has absoltley no doubt whatsoever.He has asked me to consider medication (which i am considering), mindfullness meditation, CA Therapy, and counselling.I feel as if the most enormous weight has been lifted off my shoulders.I no longer feel ashamed and more importantly - I understand the difficulties on myself and am less hard on myslef and I NO LONGER HAVE TO HIDE IT!!!
Lesley - 2-May-13 @ 5:35 PM
After battling the spectrum of disorders with mental health (Bipolar, Borderline Personality, Depression etc.)I have finally been assessed to have ADHD.My case is probably not unique as many sufferers have adjuvant/comorbid condiotions and mine is Borderline Personality.I whole-heartedly agree that many cases go undiagnosed in the UK.Symptoms are very similar in the contiuum of personality disorders.I have just begun a regimen of Mentalisation Based Therapy (MBT) and have now been prescribed Concerta XL to combat the ADHD symptoms.So there is help for sufferers, and don't be ashamed to ask for the help when you need it.Though getting a Psychiatrist to confirm diagnosis and treat with medication was quite a difficult process.
Russell - 28-Jan-12 @ 5:35 PM
Charlie....slow down mate. What you need is a forum or group to chat on because I think you are supposed to leave a comment about the article here, not start a conversation. I will try to help you and address your anxieties this once because there is no way of contacting you otherwise but we really need to find somewhere else to chat. I can tell you have ADHD and are not medicated because your comment was disjointed and rambling... so typical of a scattered mind. Youve got a decade on me but even so... well done for actually finishing school! Ok, to get diagnosed you need to do the legwork I am afraid. I had the most awful time with mental health professionals early on and had to resort to going private at The Priory Hosp. If you choose this route it is fairly straightforward and shockingly expensive. You call up the Priory and ask the lovely people to find you an ADHD specialist and they call you back promptly with a named Dr. You then arrange to be assessed which, when I went there they said would take 5 hours and cost something like £330 per hour and £220 per consult after that. That was a few years ago now so you will prob have to dig deeper. Alternatively you can go to your GP who will refer you to the local mental health team and you will get an appointment with a 'pot luck' psychiatrist. You attend and you request to be referred on to a specialist unit such as the Adult ADHD Clinic and The Maudsley Hosp in London. The psychiatrist will assess you before referral so BE PATIENT. You can assist your own diagnosis by digging out your school reports because ADHD didnt start when you left school... your school report should contain clear indicators towards diagnosis. Also print off the ADHD symptom checklist and get your partner, best friend, mother, siblings.... people who really know you to score you so you get an objective opinion.... and when they say "Oh, that sounds like me.. ! could have ADHD".... because they will.... just smile and be patient. Before launching yourself down the medication path.... some advice: The pills wont fix you. Doesnt matter how many you take. They can have serious side effects and people with ADHD often have 'issues' with self medication, addiction and substance abuse and you must always remember that. Join yahoo and search the yahoo groups home for appropriate ADHD groups. They are mostly american and use american terminology like ADD and american drug names but they tend to be the more active ones. Good luck. Ribbons.
Ribbons - 27-Jun-11 @ 1:28 PM
I am 50 years of age and have suffered with the symptoms of ADHD all of my life. As you will no doubt understand, it has been a particular problem and could have been lessened had there been early intervention.Unfortunately it was never seen as a disability in my school days,only the label"naughty child". As you can no doubt gather from this, my confidence toward my already failing academic future was now expired and i continued to attend school with the only thing that myself and the teaching staff could say resolutely is hurry up for my legal school leaving day. over the years life has been little more than a chore.After a particularly horrific road traffic accident in 2007 i decided that i must embark on a different lifestyle.For many years i had been disappointed with my lot in life and during the hour or so waiting for my extracation from the vehicle in the road traffic accident, i decided that change had to happen.For the next three years there were some particularly challenging times. however back to today,i am studying at Milton Keynes college, subjects include Psychology ,Sociology, Social policy and this brings me to make this comment, "I am finding it particularly hard to get diagnosed as it appears that there is not the facility, and this is impacting on the only tool i possess for my studies which is a dogged determination". HELP !!!
charlie - 17-Jun-11 @ 1:27 PM
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