Adult ADHD Symptoms and Impairments

Adult ADHD is so much more than a simple inability to pay attention. It’s a Neuro-developmental disorder that affects every aspect of life. According to the latest research, these are the most common symptoms for adults:

  • You are easily distracted by extraneous thoughts and stimuli
  • You make decisions impulsively
  • You have difficulty stopping activities or behaviors when you should do so
  • You start a project or task without reading or listening to directions carefully
  • You have difficulty organizing tasks and activities
  • You fail to follow through on promises or commitments you make to others
  • You have trouble doing things in their proper order or sequence
  • You drive much faster than others – or, if you don’t drive, have difficulty engaging in leisure activities or doing fun things quietly
  • You have difficulty sustaining attention in tasks or recreational activities

According to Dr. Russell Barkley

If you have had 4-6 of these symptoms for longer than 6 months and they occur often in your life and you experienced adverse consequences from these symptoms in your childhood, it’s definitely worth talking to your doctor about ADHD.

Barkley, Russell. Taking Charge of Adult ADHD. Page 10. Click to purchase book.

Here’s a breakdown of the adult ADHD symptoms and impairments…

Impulsivity

There is no “stop and think” moment before you act or speak.

  • You interrupt people a lot
  • You make rash decisions
  • You jump to conclusions
  • You have very little patience for waiting your turn
  • You react too quickly
  • You impulsively start projects without considering all the steps involved, get frustrated or bored, then impulsively quit the project or task

Distractibility

It’s not that you can’t pay attention – you actually pay attention to too many things.

  • Inability to ignore irrelevant noises, conversations, or visual stimulus around you
  • Inability to block out unnecessary thoughts in your mind
  • Inability to focus on what’s most important: the task in front of you
  • You just can’t seem to stick to one thing until it’s finished…something more exciting always distracts you

Gratification Junkie

You struggle to resist short-term pleasure in exchange for long-term reward.

  • You can’t seem to make yourself do the things you hate to do
  • You have no tolerance for boredom
  • Tedious, menial tasks make you feel like you want to die
  • If you don’t see the value in it, it won’t get done
  • You’re controlled by the “now” – who cares about the future?

Restlessness

As a kid you may have been hyperactive, but it (probably) looks different now that you’re an adult.

  • You fidget, tap your foot or pencil, chew gum excessively, have trouble sitting still
  • Your thoughts run a-mile-a-minute and you have trouble resting, relaxing,  and settling down (who needs sleep?)
  • You think too fast, react too fast, drive too fast, speak too fast, and act too fast

Time Blindness

It’s more than just “poor time management”…you have zero awareness of time

  • You cannot accurately estimate how long a task will take you
  • You are always running late
  • You usually think you have more time than you do
  • You procrastinate or put off doing things until the last minute

Emotional Self Control

You can’t seem to manage your own emotions

  • You often get more upset than is “normal” for the situation
  • You can be explosive and unpredictable
  • You seem to feel things more intensely than the people around you
  • You get frustrated very easily

Poor Working Memory

You can’t seem to hold what you need to do in your mind long enough to accomplish the task at hand

  • You forget to do the things you say you’re going to do
  • You leave most projects unfinished
  • You get started on something, get distracted, and never remember to go back to it
  • You can’t remember your goals long enough to stick to them

Zero Self Reflection

You don’t have the ability to assess how you’re doing and learn from the past and/or you don’t appropriately plan for the future

  • You seem to make the same mistakes over and over, nothing seems to improve even when people ask you to change
  • You can’t organize your behavior over time and make changes
  • Goals? What goals? Most goals you’ve set have either been forgotten or total failures
  • You’re controlled by the now…past and future are of no importance to you

Terrible Organization

Everything around you seems chaotic. There is little method or system.

  • You have trouble organizing your thoughts, emotions, tasks, schedule, finances, home, car, relationships and everything else
  • It’s impossible to prioritize because everything feels important
  • It’s hard to make a plan because you can’t stop, think, and self-talk
  • It’s excruciating to manage money because it’s tedious and boring

Task Initiation & Task Completion

You have trouble starting things that are overwhelming, hard, or boring. Once started, you have trouble finishing.

  • You can’t do things just because you “should” do them – you need a deadline or a major consequence (and even then sometimes it doesn’t get done)
  • You have a hard time motivating yourself to stick with a project to get it done
  • You can’t persist (finish) things that aren’t interesting
  • You can’t resist the urge to do something more fun when you’re supposed to be working

Three Things You Must Consider

  1. If you have ADHD, you were born with it. As a child did you exhibit many symptoms that did not allow you to function typically at school, at home, in your peer group, and in the community?
  2. If you have ADHD, these symptoms and impairments hinder you regularly in more than one area of your life. Not just at work, but also at home. Not just at home, but also with friends and family.
  3. ADHD is VERY inheritable. If you have ADHD, chances are high that your parent(s) also exhibited these symptoms and/or your child(ren) exhibit them. Maybe your child has already been diagnosed with ADHD.

*Only a doctor, psychologist, or psychiatrist can accurately diagnose you. This page is merely meant to describe the symptoms and impairments of ADHD. Make an appointment with a medical professional today!