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Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a condition that affects millions of adults worldwide and can have a significant impact on daily life. Dealing with the symptoms of ADHD can be a challenging and overwhelming experience, especially when it comes to relationships, work, and social activities.

While many people associate ADHD with children, recent studies show that it affects up to 5% of adults in the United States. This can be a difficult reality, causing feelings of frustration, shame, and low self-esteem. But you are not alone in this struggle.

This article is designed to give you a comprehensive understanding of the symptoms of ADHD in adults, including how it can affect relationships and information on how to get a diagnosis. We'll discuss how ADHD can manifest in adults, the impact it has on different areas of life, and what treatment options are available to manage its symptoms.

What are the Symptoms of ADHD in Adults?
Photographer: Helena Lopes | Source: Unsplash

Overview of ADHD in Adults

ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects the brain's ability to regulate attention and control impulses. Although ADHD is common in adults, it is often underdiagnosed, leading to unnecessary suffering and difficulties.

In the past, attention deficit disorder (ADD) was used to describe individuals who primarily struggle with attention problems without hyperactivity. However, the term ADD is no longer widely used, and the diagnosis of ADHD now includes both inattentive and hyperactive/impulsive subtypes.

Although ADHD is commonly diagnosed in childhood, it can persist into adulthood. Many symptoms that appear in childhood continue into adulthood, but they may manifest differently and often go undiagnosed.

Adults with ADHD may have difficulties with attention, time management, and impulse control, which affect their personal and professional lives. They may also suffer from mood swings, irritability, and low frustration tolerance, making it difficult to maintain relationships.

It's essential to recognize that ADHD is a complex and multifaceted condition whose impact on an individual's life can vary greatly. By raising awareness of the symptoms of ADHD in adults, those affected can better understand their experiences and seek appropriate support and treatment.

Symptoms of ADHD in Adults

The symptoms of ADHD in adults fall into three main categories: inattentiveness, impulsivity, and hyperactivity. Although each individual with ADHD is unique and may experience the symptoms differently, these categories provide a helpful framework for understanding the disorder.


Inattentiveness is a core symptom of ADHD in adults. It can take various forms, such as difficulty maintaining attention, forgetfulness, procrastination, and poor planning. Adults with ADHD have difficulty focusing on tasks that require sustained attention. They also easily distract themselves with external stimuli, such as sounds, movements, or thoughts.

They also tend to forget important details, such as appointments, deadlines, or instructions, which leads to frustration and overwhelm. Forgetting things and actions can hinder effective time management.


ADHD in adults is often accompanied by impulsivity, which can lead to issues with self-control. They may speak before they should, interrupt others, and blurt out ideas without considering the context.

This condition also leads to hasty purchases or decisions that have unfavorable consequences. Impulsive spending can lead to debt or other money problems in the long run.


Hyperactivity, usually associated with ADHD in children, can also occur in adults. It manifests itself in various ways, including restlessness, difficulty sitting still for long periods, and seeking out high-intensity activities. Adults with ADHD may tap their feet, move their legs, or engage in repetitive behaviors due to restlessness or the need for constant movement.

When in meetings or class, they may struggle to sit still and easily distract themselves with stimuli, leading to an urge to move. They are also more inclined to take risks, for example, in extreme sports or other adventurous pursuits.

Importance of Seeking Medical Help for Symptoms of ADHD

If you suspect that you or your loved one has ADHD, getting a proper diagnosis is important, as symptoms may overlap with other conditions. A proper diagnosis can rule out other potential causes, provide an accurate diagnosis, and help determine the best course of treatment.

In addition, a proper diagnosis is important because ADHD symptoms can significantly affect various aspects of an adult's life, including work, relationships, and personal well-being. It can provide validation for the challenges they face and help them better understand their symptoms. Finally, it opens the door to various treatment options, such as medication, therapy, and lifestyle changes.

How ADHD Can Affect Relationships

ADHD can significantly impact different types of relationships and cause challenges, such as difficulties with communication, organization, and impulsiveness. The following are some examples of how ADHD can affect different types of relationships.

Romantic Relationships

They may have difficulty focusing on and paying attention to their partners, leading to difficulties in communication and intimacy. They may also be forgetful or inattentive, leading to missed appointments or commitments.

In addition, impulsivity can cause them to say or do things without thinking about them, leading to arguments or misunderstandings. Hyperactivity can also make it hard for them to relax or spend quiet time together.


Because they may be forgetful or inattentive when it comes to keeping in touch with people or making arrangements, adults with ADHD may find it difficult to maintain friendships. They may also have difficulty controlling their emotions, leading to mood swings or impatience and affecting their relationships with others.

Hyperactivity may limit their social opportunities by affecting their ability to sit still or engage in quiet activities.

Familial Relationships

ADHD can also affect family relationships, such as those with parents, siblings, or children. Adults with ADHD may have difficulty maintaining boundaries or regulating their emotions, leading to conflict or tension within the family. In addition, impulsivity may cause them to make decisions without considering their impact on others, leading to misunderstandings or hurt feelings.

Overall, the challenges ADHD can cause in relationships can be significant. However, with the right treatment and support, adults with ADHD can learn to manage their symptoms over time.

Getting a proper diagnosis and treatment from a mental health professional is important. By working together, adults with ADHD and their loved ones can build stronger, more resilient relationships.

How to Get Diagnosed with ADHD in Adults

Being diagnosed with ADHD in adults typically involves a comprehensive evaluation by a mental health professional trained in diagnosing and treating ADHD. The following are the steps involved in getting diagnosed with ADHD:

1. Schedule an appointment with a mental health professional

The first step in getting diagnosed with ADHD is to schedule an appointment with a qualified health professional. This can be a psychiatrist, psychologist, or mental health provider trained in diagnosing and treating ADHD.

2. Undergo a comprehensive evaluation

During the evaluation, the mental health professional usually inquires about the individual's symptoms, medical history, and past or current mental health problems. The evaluation can also include a medical examination to rule out the possibility that an underlying medical condition causes the symptoms.

In addition, the mental health professional will use standardized rating scales and psychological tests to gather information about the individual's symptoms and how they impact their daily life.

3. Interviews with friends or family members

The mental health professional will also interview friends or family members to better understand the individual's symptoms and how they affect their daily life. This can provide valuable insight into how the individual's symptoms affect their relationships, work, and life.

4. Review of history and context

The mental health professional will also consider the individual's personal history. This includes childhood symptoms, previous treatments, and other relevant factors like lifestyle and environment. This information can help make an accurate diagnosis and develop an appropriate treatment strategy.

5. Confirming an ADHD diagnosis

After completing a comprehensive evaluation, the mental health professional will determine whether the individual meets the criteria for an ADHD diagnosis. If the diagnosis of ADHD is confirmed, the mental health professional will recommend a combination of treatments, such as medications, therapies, and lifestyle changes, to manage symptoms.

Finding a psychologist specializing in ADHD can be an important first step in getting an accurate diagnosis and effective treatment. The Arkansas Relationship Counseling Center provides counseling services, including friendly and effective treatment options for individuals with ADHD.

Managing ADHD for Improved Relationships and Overall Well-being

Seeking support and treatment for ADHD is critical to improving relationships and overall well-being. Understanding the symptoms of ADHD in adults and getting diagnosed by a psychiatrist can help you manage your symptoms and build healthier, positive relationships with others.

If you suspect you have ADHD, getting help from health professionals is best.

Don't hesitate. Take the first step toward managing your symptoms and improving your quality of life today!

ADD/ADHD Testing from Arkansas Relationship Counseling Center

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