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Find out if you may be living with adult ADHD with this list of symptoms from the work of Dr. Russell Barkley, Dr. Russell Ramsay, Dr. Edward Hallowell, and Dr. Ari Tuckman
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
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
Adult ADHD symptoms also include the 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?
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
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
On the list of adult ADHD symptoms = 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
Everything around you seems chaotic. One of the common adult ADHD symptoms is there is little method or system to your life.
- 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 Should Consider about Adult ADHD
- If you have ADHD, you were born with it. As a child, it’s likely you experienced symptoms that kept you from functioning typically at school, at home, in your peer group, and in the community.
- If you have ADHD, these adult ADHD symptoms and impairments can hinder you regularly in more than one area of your life: at work, at home, and with friends and family.
- ADHD is VERY inheritable. If you have adult ADHD symptoms, chances are high that your parent(s) also exhibited these symptoms and/or your child(ren) exhibit them whether or not they’ve already been diagnosed with ADHD.
*Only a doctor, psychologist, or psychiatrist can accurately diagnose you. This page is simply meant to describe common adult ADHD symptoms and impairments.
If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms above, make an appointment with a medical professional today!
Want to learn more? Here are some helpful resources for understanding your unique brain:
- Dr. Russell Barkley, ADHD Fact Sheets
- Dr. Russell Barkley, Taking Charge of Adult ADHD
- Steven A. Safren, Mastering Your Adult ADHD