This article was developed via a partnership with BetterHelp.
ADHD is a well-known mental health condition most commonly associated with children. However, many people dismiss it, as it is often seen as a fancy word for not being able to focus. Some people even believe it is not an actual condition and that lack of concentration and hyperactivity is just a normal part of childhood.
However, ADHD is a common mental health condition that affects both children and adults. It is a lifelong condition but may be overlooked in childhood. Today, more and more adults are being diagnosed with ADHD than ever before simply because the condition was overlooked earlier.
If you believe you may have ADHD as an adult, then read on to learn more about this condition. You will learn about what it is, how it manifests in adults, common misconceptions, and treatment options and management strategies.
Table of Contents
What Is ADHD?
Adult attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a mental health condition characterized by difficulty concentrating, hyperactivity, and impulsive behavior. These issues are strong enough to affect all areas of life, including work, relationships, and mental health.
ADHD is a lifelong condition and is most commonly discovered in childhood. However, many adults go through childhood without a diagnosis and, therefore, may struggle with school and friendships without understanding why.
The exact causes of ADHD are not known, though it seems that genetics play a huge role. However, scientists are researching other potential factors, including issues during pregnancy and the birthing process. Though many people believe that diet and lifestyle cause ADHD, there is little evidence to support these claims.
Though many people don’t realize it, there are actually three types of ADHD characterized by their slightly differing symptoms. The three types are:
- Impulse/hyperactive type: This is the least common type of ADHD and is characterized by impulsive or hyperactive behaviors. Issues with concentration and attention may not occur or be less severe than the hyperactiveness.
- Inattentive/distractible: As the name suggests, this type is characterized by the person’s propensity towards inattention and distractibility. Hyperactivity may not be a symptom or may just not be very severe.
- Combined Type: The combined type is the most common type of ADHD. It combines all the above symptoms: inattention, distractibility, impulsivity, and hyperactivity.
How Does ADHD Show Up In Adults?
Though many people don’t realize this, ADHD does not just magically show up in adults. All adults with ADHD had it as a child as well. They may have been diagnosed as a child or somehow avoided a diagnosis until adulthood. Nevertheless, ADHD in adulthood does not appear out of nowhere, nor does it ever disappear.
However, just because an adult struggles with focus does not mean they have ADHD. This condition is more complicated than being a bit hyper or not focusing at work. There are many symptoms of adult ADHD, including:
- Lack of focus
- Getting distracted easily
- Struggling to listen during conversations
- Overlooking details
- Difficulty following instructions
- Struggling to complete tasks or projects
- Hyperfocus on certain subjects or activities
- Often disorganized
- Lack of time management skills
- Procrastinates often
- Often late to appointments or meetings
- Often forgetful
- May rush through tasks
- Interrupts others
Adults with ADHD often struggle in their careers. They may switch jobs often and struggle to find any satisfaction. Because of their issues with concentration and productivity, they may not experience much success in their jobs and therefore struggle to move forward with their career.
Furthermore, ADHD may affect relationships as well. This may be due to their struggle to pay attention in conversations or show up on time for appointments or dates. They may also forget to help out with chores or help around the home.
Unfortunately, ADHD may have some effects on one’s physical and mental health as well. Those with ADHD commonly live with anxiety, restlessness, fatigue, low self-esteem, and depression. They may also be impulsive with their diet and eat poorly or forget to exercise frequently. This can contribute to existing physical health problems and may develop others.
What Are Some Common Misconceptions About ADHD?
This is probably one of the most misunderstood mental health disorders. It has been given a negative connotation over the years, resulting in many people believing it is not a disorder at all. Some of the most common misconceptions include:
- ADHD is not a real condition.
- ADHD will go away in adulthood.
- Those with ADHD are just lazy or unmotivated and need to try harder.
- Symptoms of ADHD are just normal traits of children.
- Only boys live with ADHD.
- Those with ADHD never focus on anything.
- ADHD is the result of bad parenting.
These misconceptions can be quite harmful as they dismiss the condition as not important or serious. As a result, many people with ADHD are met with skepticism and dismissal when discussing their condition with others. They are often told to “try harder” or “get over it” instead of being met with empathy and understanding.
How Can Adults Find Help For Their ADHD?
If you are undiagnosed but believe you live with ADHD, then you can go to a psychiatrist or psychologist for an official diagnosis. They will gather information about your habits and childhood in order to make an accurate diagnosis. After diagnosis, they can help you adjust to the condition and find treatment and management options to more easily manage your life.
Some adults with ADHD thrive with the use of medication prescribed by a psychiatrist. Certain medications can help you maintain concentration and focus and substantially improve a person with ADHD’s quality of life. In addition, if you live with depression or anxiety as well, a psychiatrist can help you with those conditions.
But ADHD, as with many mental health conditions, can also be managed with a healthy lifestyle. Make sure to eat well, exercise often, and get plenty of sleep. It also helps to learn good time management skills and organization skills so you can thrive at work and in school.
Don’t be discouraged or disappointed if you find you live with ADHD. Though it can cause some difficulties in life, you can manage this condition and lead a normal life. With proper awareness, self-care, and some treatment, you can manage your impulsivity, hyperactivity, and concentration issues and excel in all areas of your life.
If you are interested in learning more about ADHD, you can find more resources and guidance at the link below: