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What are your ADHD symptoms?

Symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children and adolescents are predominantly external and easy to observe, such as physical hyperactivity. An exception is predominantly inattentive ADHD, formerly referred to as ADD, which is more common in girls. With age, a decrease in observable symptoms of ADHD seems to occur. Adults with ADHD have a longer delay before refocusing when their attention is misdirected, and they have difficulty switching tasks. The hyperactivity and impulsivity of adult ADHD are often more subtle than those symptoms types in children. For example, while hyperactivity may result in children being fidgety and frequently getting up from sitting, this symptom in adults may involve the adult getting bored easily and being unhappy about having to sit still rather than having to frequently change their position. On neuropsychological tests, these individuals often have trouble with sustained effort, planning, organization, visual tracking, and listening attentively.ADHD is characterized by a long-term history of inattention, impulsiveness, and variable amounts of hyperactivity. Remember that all of these symptoms are normal human characteristics, so ADHD is not diagnosed solely based on the presence of these normal human behaviors. ADHD is determined by the degree of these behaviors and their interference with important areas of life. People with ADHD have these normal human characteristics to an excessive degree, with a poor ability to easily control them.The Evolution of ADHD Characteristics From Childhood to AdulthoodCharacteristicChildhood ManifestationAdult ManifestationHyperactivityCannot sit stillFidgety, restlessAlways on the goInner restlessnessInability to relaxUnhappy/discontent when inactiveImpulsivityBlurting outTouching or exploringCan't stay in lineTemper tantrums or outburstsInterrupting, impatientSnap decisions, recklessnessSwitching tasks rapidlyFeeling "down" when bored or "up" when excited/stimulatedInattentionDistractibleCannot finish workDoes not appear to hearOften forgetfulDisorganization, forgetfulnessPoor time managementMisses parts of conversationsAlthough some adults with ADHD may not meet the full criteria used to diagnose ADHD in children, they may still experience significant impairment in certain aspects of life. Depending on their professional or domestic situation, these adults may need to deal with more complex abstract issues that can be difficult depending on the severity of their ADHD. Consequently, a given individual's perception of his or her own degree of impairment may vary.Some characteristics of adult ADHD include the following (remember these are normal human behaviors; ADHD is diagnosed based on the presence and severity of more than one of these characteristics):Persistent motor hyperactivity: A person may feel restless, be unable to relax or settle down, or be discontent unless active.Attention difficulties: Someone may have trouble keeping his or her mind on a conversation. For example, a man or woman may be constantly aware of other things going on around him even when trying to filter them out. Or the individual may have difficulty reading, finishing a task, with focus, or may experience frequent forgetfulness.Affective lability: This means that someone shifts from a normal mood to depression or excitement, and these shifts can be either reactive or spontaneous.Disorganization or inability to complete tasks: An affected person may be disorganized at work, home, or school. One frequently does not complete tasks or switches from one task to another.Short temper with short-lived explosive outbursts: A person may lose control for short times or be easily provoked to anger or constantly irritable, and these problems may interfere with personal relationships.Impulsivity: Impulsiveness may be minor (for example, talking before thinking, interrupting conversation, impatience) or major. Abruptly starting or stopping relationships (for example, multiple marriages, separations), antisocial behavior (for example, shoplifting), and excessive involvement in pleasurable activities without recognizing possible consequences (for example, buying sprees) are examples of major impulsivity. The bottom line is that waiting to do something induces discomfort.Emotional overreaction: Someone may react excessively or inappropriately with depression, confusion, uncertainty, anxiety, or anger to ordinary stresses. These emotional responses interfere with problem-solving abilities.Other psychiatric conditions, such as a substance-abuse disorder, major affective disorder (like major depression or bipolar disorder), anxiety disorders, schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder, borderline personality disorder, antisocial personality disorder, and schizophrenia must be ruled out as a cause of the symptoms. Similarly, other medical conditions, including sleep disorders (like obstructive sleep apnea [OSA]; insomnia; sleep deprivation), traumatic brain injuries, cognitive disorders, or epilepsy (seizures) may also cause problems with attention.
11 Responses
Avatar universal
Let's be real. ADD a nuisance, it's a disability, it's a pain in the butt, but it is not the end of the world.  Actually, it's a lot better to be diagnosed and understand what's going on than to agonize over all the things you've forgotten that are your "fault."      I will always lose my keys.  I will never be able to beat myself into being "organized" enough not to lose my keys.  But I can recognize that and have two sets in easy reach, two more emergency sets, and a final dig-up-the-yard set for when all else fails.      I can tell myself it's a legitimate problem and ask for help.  I can give more keys to the neighbors, I can hire someone to go through the mail for me. I can concentrate on my skills instead of my weaknesses.    Am I easily distracted, or am I creative? As the graduate of two ivy league universities (one graduate, one undergraduate), I can assure you there are lots of smart folks out there with ADD, and lots of them deal with it just fine. Sure, ADD can make life horrendously difficult some days, but so can the weather, the stock market, and rush hour traffic.  Recognize problems for what they are. Don't blow them out of proportion.
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I am 81 years old, and I have had ADHD since childhood. I have been on Ritalin for 12 years, beginning with 5 mg to 45 mg now. Each year, I discover new benefits from taking this medication. When I had high blood pressure, I would stop taking Ritalin (no problem) and would start again when I realized I was beginning to lose its benefits. There is no doubt it is a miracle drug. My bridge game improved and my golf game improved because I can practice for an hour without being bored.
Avatar universal
This was a very thorough and supportive article. I found several areas that I didn't know were affected by adult ADD. I think it's important to remember that all experience with ADD are not equal. While some may have minor issues with simple things like organization, some of us have much more devastating effects to overcome, many of which cause life-long feelings of failure in many arenas. When I was diagnosed, I was desperately trying to succeed at my job so that I would not be fired. Why so desperate? Because I have had the same difficulties succeeding at jobs my entire adult life (and in school as a child). I have two children who rely on me to be their ballast in a storm, not to have me be the storm. ADD affects other family members, too.  Thank you for this informative information. Even those already diagnosed still have much to learn about this condition.
Avatar universal
I am 39 years old. About a month ago, I was conclusively diagnosed with ADHD by my psychiatrist.  Now I understand why I have a psychiatrist in the first place. In my childhood, I had "tantrums from hell" as my siblings and parents remember. I didn't do well in school; I was an avid attention seeker.    As a teenager, I was rebellious, anxious, depressed, and developed a self-medicating habit of drugs and alcohol.  I would run away.  I attempted suicide.  I was promiscuous.  I never felt that I had a place in the world.    As an adult, I really hadn't developed life skills or healthy ways to cope with stress.  I still abuse drugs and alcohol.  I'm in a co-dependant marriage. The choices I have made in my adult life have definitely affected me and my family negatively.  The impulse control and lack of decision-making skills will haunt me the rest of my life. ADHD has caused financial ruin, suicide attempts, impulsiveness, boredom, addictive traits, and strained relationships with friends and family.    Now that I have been diagnosed, I feel there is hope for me. I definitely understand myself better.  I think with medical treatment, I can begin to pick up the pieces of my life.  There is hope. Now I understand why I'm the way I am. I have ADHD. ADHD doesn't have me.
Avatar universal
I am a 56 year old female who went undiagnosed with this disorder until my late 40's.  While there were several males in my immediate family who were diagnosed, my symptoms went unrecognized because I did not exhibit the same type of hyperactivity as my brother and nephews.  It wasn't until my daughter was in high school and was diagnosed with ADD, that I realized that I had been suffering from the same symptoms since childhood.  ADD medication has been a lifesaver for me.  Impulsivity and lack of organizational skills cost me my job and almost my marriage.  I have found however, that this disorder does carry with it a stigma and I recently was traumatized by an E.R. doctor who accused me of drug seeking when I visited the ER due to an abscessed tooth that caused an enormous amount of pain while I was away from my home, visiting my mother.  The reason was that I forgot to list Concerta as one of my medications and he was able to access my prescriptions.  I have not yet been able to overcome this incident and am afraid to go to the ER for any pain related illnesses such as kidney stones, for fear of being accused of being a drug seeker.  I hope that all physicians recognize this disorder in adults and treat them as if they had any other type disorder, without fueling the shame that we already feel from society's ignorance and misconception of ADHD/ADD.
Avatar universal
It angers me that in New Zealand people do not recognize ADD among adults, there seems to be a misguided belief that this disorder disappears as we get older. As someone who has ADD I can tell you that this is not true, I was diagnosed with ADD at 12 and at 24 I still struggle with it every day. I have simply gotten better at managing my ADD, however because of this and the fact that I have managed to succeed academically, many of my relatives and friends don't believe that I have ADD. Luckily I have the support and guidance of my father who also has ADD. From what I have seen there is either little or no support for adults with ADD in my country. In college I met many people with ADD who had worked very hard to get to where they were only to find themselves suddenly without support and when they did make the effort to reach out to specialists they were treated as though they were simply trying to get drugs. There needs to be more consistent information out there and specialists need to realize that this isn't something that magically goes away when you turn eighteen.
Avatar universal
My husband is very bright now age 70. When he is in a controlled environment, like drafting, in one room, he does fine. He has been at home for over 40 years. He is all over the place, yelling and screaming, and losing things, and blaming others in family, now they are grown, now it is me. Only, he can do just about anything, but takes forever to finish, and usually starts other things in between, he is hyper, curses, yells fumes has road rage, impatient, loud and hard to deal with. He has been on Zoloft a number of years and valium 5 mg. for anxiety, he needs something for this ADHD I think he has had it for over 40 years. He needs help and it is very hard on me. I get so mad over this behavior of hyper and never finishing things.
Avatar universal
I am a  mother of a 24 yr old son who has ADD , the impulse  behaviour , the tantrums ,  the blaming everyone else (usualy me) has ment  he cannot live with us ,  but that doesnt mean  he is  independant at all, I have to pick up the pieces   when (dispite all warnings ) he has gone head 1st into  a situation . I have to admit  there have been some very  dark times,  where a  plate of food has been thrown   , or   a chair broken , or a laptop smashed ( always mine)  I have even had him arrested . The shame of this invisable   disability  is almost as painful  as the effects ,     if there are any    helplines out there for families of sufferers   can you please let me know . By the way he is now on ritolin  but  I have not seen the benifits yet ,
Avatar universal
I am 38, and a teacher that is fun and spontanious yet not taking away from curriculum, but this is what my world is like.  At 5am I wake, bounce out of bed, tired as hell, run down the steps and jump in the shower.. I get to work at 7am to feed the kids at school and I can not keep still.  I fidit and need to walk around.  If I am not moving, it hurts.  I talk to my colleagues but have 3 conversations going at once..I can see in the trains of thought and the words just can not keep up.  Friends tell me absolutely I am ADHD but is it..I am always on the go, I don't stop until I drop and by the end of the night absolutely buggered and to think about it, have no clue what I actually achieved for that day..
Avatar universal
For more information about adult adhd and children with adhd see http://living-with-adhd.us/ADHD in Adults.html were you can learn more about many of the topics related to adhd.
Avatar universal
I was diagnosed at age 56, though I have had the symptoms since childhood. The medicine has helped me to function and I can't imagine how I survived prior. It has been an exhausting struggle to manage daily while trying to also clean up the residual mess from a lifetime of untreated ADD.
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