Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in Adults

You’ve always had trouble concentrating. Your mind wanders, and it’s hard to finish tasks. As a result, you didn’t do well in school. And now, you often struggle with your job. Sometimes this makes you moody or depressed. These may be symptoms of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). To find out more, talk to your healthcare provider. He or she can offer guidance and support.

Symptoms of ADHD in adults

For an adult to be diagnosed with ADHD, the symptoms must have been present since childhood. The symptoms may include:

  • Trouble thinking things through

  • Low self-esteem

  • Depression

  • Trouble holding a job

  • Memory problems

  • Problems with a marriage or relationship

  • Lack of discipline

  • Trouble finishing tasks or projects

What is ADHD?

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder makes it hard to focus your mind. You may daydream a lot. And you may be restless much of the time. As a result, you may have trouble with detailed or boring work. And it may be hard to stick with one project for very long. You also may forget things. Or, you may miss key points during a lecture or meeting. You may even have trouble sitting through a movie or concert. At times, you may feel frustrated or angry. This can affect your relationships with others.

Who does it affect?

ADHD starts in childhood. Sometimes, your symptoms may improve as you get older. But they also may persist into your adult years. ADHD is often thought of as a “kid’s problem.” That’s why it’s often missed in adults. In fact, many parents learn they have ADHD when their children are diagnosed.

What causes it?

The exact cause of ADHD isn’t known. The disorder does run in families. Having one parent with ADHD makes it more likely you’ll have it too. And the part of your brain that controls attention may be involved. Certain brain chemicals that are out of balance may also play a role.

What can be done?

The first step is finding out if you have ADHD. Your doctor will use special guidelines to diagnose the disorder. Most adults with ADHD are greatly helped by some combination of medicine, therapy and coaching.

To learn more

Online Medical Reviewer: L Renee Watson MSN RN
Online Medical Reviewer: Marianne Fraser MSN RN
Online Medical Reviewer: Paul Ballas MD
Date Last Reviewed: 4/1/2020
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