Symptoms of Adult ADHD

By Heidi Bernhardt, RN

Everyone has some of these symptoms occasionally, but those with adult ADHD have more of these symptoms consistently and to a level of impairment. These symptoms may be fairly consistent, vary according to the situation or fluctuate without control.

Problems with Attention Regulation

  • Not being able to pay attention for a period of time, especially while reading, doing paperwork or working on things that you find boring
  • Being easily distracted by things around you difficulty staying focused in noisy offices
  • Unable to pay close attention to details or making careless mistakes
  • Hyper focusing and being unable to refocus your attention on more important things, especially when involved in activities that you find stimulating
  • Difficulty prioritizing focus to the level of importance rather than interest
  • Forgetting to complete tasks even if they frequent activities
  • Frequently losing necessary things
  • Poor listening skills
  • Tuning out while being spoken to
  • Difficult focusing when reading

Problems with Hyperactivity
  • Fidgeting, finger drumming, leg shaking etc.
  • A feeling of internal restlessness
  • Feeling that your mind is racing or switching channels frequently
  • Unable to relax
  • Talking too much
  • Craving excitement and seeking out high risk activities
  • Trying to do too many things at once
Problems with Impulsivity
  • Impulsive spending
  • Talking at inappropriate times
  • Interrupting or blurting out things
  • Making impulsive decisions
  • Speaking without thinking, blurting out things that are hurtful or rude
  • Being easily bored
  • Being reckless without considering consequences

Problems with Executive Functioning
  • Difficulty prioritizing tasks
  • Disorganization, messy home, office desk and car
  • Procrastination
  • Trouble starting and finishing projects
  • Difficulty with time management, often over or underestimate time required
  • Difficulty with planning
  • Unable to consistently use hindsight and forethought when making decisions
  • Feelings of under achievement
  • Starting numerous projects but not completing them
  • Delegation of organization duties to partners
Difficulty Regulating Emotions
  • Reacting emotionally to a greater degree than others
  • Emotional outbursts
  • Impatience
  • Irritable
  • Difficulty staying motivated
  • Hypersensitive to criticism
  • Low tolerance for frustration
  • Moods swings
  • Temper outbursts
  • Anger may fade quickly or remain longer than normal

Additional Red Flags
  • Difficulty with relationships
  • Difficulty with social interaction
  • Frequent job changes and job loss
  • Less job satisfaction
  • Less years of schooling, and difficulty in leaning environments
  • More school discipline issues
  • Holding more than one job
  • Choosing jobs that are more active and less detail orientated
  • Financial difficulties - difficulty paying bills on time and managing money
  • Frequently late for appointments and social engagements
  • Substance abuse issues including alcohol, coffee, cigarettes, marijuana
  • More frequent driving accidents and speeding incidents
  • More frequent physical accidents
  • Problems with self esteem
  • Difficulty coping with stress
  • Persistent mild depression
  • Worrying when attention is not focused
  • Difficulties with consistent thoughtful parenting
  • Unable to recognize own behaviour and effect on others

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