One of the problems with adult ADHD is that its symptoms include obnoxious behaviors that all people struggle with once in a while. Things like running late, being disorganized, speaking out impulsively, leaving projects unfinished, and not following through on promises are behaviors that all humans have to battle from time-to-time.

This makes it very difficult to comprehend the level of impairment that true ADHD presents for adults.  But I’m assuming you’re reading this because you or someone you love has ADHD. So I invite you to be open to what science has to say about it.

America’s top doctors, psychologists, psychiatrists and researchers have all unequivocally concluded that adult ADHD is a debilitating neuro-developmental disorder especially when it’s not properly treated. Adults with ADHD experience symptoms and impairments every moment of every day and night. It’s not something they deal with once in a while; like just when they’re really tired or stressed, or when they’re just feeling “off”.

Even on his best day, a man with ADHD has to maneuver through life with much more thought and effort and mistakes and failures (and negative feedback) than the average man.

ADHD can be managed quite well with a combination of medication, supplements, diet, exercise, therapy, coaching, etc. But adults often do not seek daily treatment for their ADHD. Do you know why they don’t make treatment for their ADHD a priority? Because they’re repeatedly told it’s not a big deal. They’re told they’re using their ADHD diagnosis as an excuse. They’re told to JUST TRY HARDER.

Do you have a loved one with ADHD that is super annoying because she’s always late, never remembers to close cabinet doors, forgets to pick the kids up from soccer practice, is constantly overwhelmed even though you don’t think there’s “that much” on her plate? Does she have trouble sleeping? Trouble keeping track of the calendar? Is she an impulsive spender? Does she drink or smoke too much? Are her emotional explosions unpredictable?

Every single one of those “annoying behaviors” are documented symptoms or impairments of ADHD.  <–click for symptoms

Do you love a man with ADHD who has changed jobs and/or career paths more times than you can count? Does he start projects that he never seems to finish? Does he leave messes behind that you’re sick of cleaning up? Does he seem aloof or uninterested in family stuff? Is he the life of the party when you’re out at a function but then seems to hide on his phone or computer when you get home? Does he forget to do the things you ask him to no matter how many times you’ve nagged him? Is your family in debt because of his spending?

Again, all symptoms or impairments of ADHD.  

I invite you to consider if you’ve been angry at your partner for his or her ADHD symptoms…? Have you told your partner that you’re sick of his inconsistent behavior? Have you told your wife to try harder? Have you rolled your eyes and insisted that ADHD is not an excuse?

You’re right. ADHD is not an excuse. But it IS an explanation.


ADHD is an explanation that every mainstream medical, psychological, and educational organization in the US agrees is a debilitating disorder. Adults with ADHD are less likely to have higher education, less likely to have decent jobs, incomes, and relationships, but more likely to be in debt, divorced, incarcerated, and addicted to substances.

Adult ADHD is real. And it’s a monster.


Still not convinced? I understand. It may seem that your partner is just trying to excuse his or her obnoxious habits and “get off the hook” for the annoying things they do. I get it.

But what if it is real? What if your loved one truly is hindered by a neuro-developmental disorder that impairs them to the point of underachieving in every area of their life…including their relationship with you?

Wouldn’t you want them to get treatment? Wouldn’t you encourage them to spend money on therapy and/or coaching? Wouldn’t you find ways to support them as they try and fail and try and fail and try again at nearly every single thing they do at home, at work, or in social situations?

Below is a compilation of medical journals, research papers, and articles by experts in the field of ADHD including the National Institute of Mental Health, findings from Psychologist Dr. Russell Barkley (leading researcher on ADHD), Centers for Disease Control, Medical News Today, National Library of Medicine, Sage Journals (publishers of scientific studies), US National Library of Medicine, and the American Academy of Pediatrics [because ADHD is very rarely something that one grows out of].

If you don’t want to take my word for it, and I don’t blame you if you don’t, please read the studies and articles and journals below. ADHD is a debilitating disorder that – if left untreated – can ruin lives.

I know you love your human with ADHD. One of the very best ways you can show your love is to continue read, listen, and learn about adult ADHD. Try to understand it. Try to see it when it manifests in your partner’s behaviors. Try to separate your loved one from their ADHD symptoms. And make sure to offer encouragement and support when you can.

Warning: The articles below are medical in nature. They are not easy reads, so-to-speak. You can peruse my website or Google “adult ADHD” if you’d prefer some light reading on the topic! 

An overview of ADHD from the National Institute of Mental Health 

Fact Sheet on ADHD written by Dr. Russell Barkley, indisputably the top ADHD expert

“ADHD is not just a childhood disorder. Although the symptoms of ADHD begin in childhood, ADHD can continue through adolescence and adulthood. Even though hyperactivity tends to improve as a child becomes a teen, problems with inattention, disorganization, and poor impulse control often continue through the teen years and into adulthood.” – National Institute of Mental Health

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – mostly about childhood ADHD but some key info on adult ADHD as well. Remember, most people who were diagnosed as kids still report adverse symptoms and impairments as adults. 

“ADHD is a life-long disorder and may be one of the costliest medical conditions in the United States.” Medical News Today

ADHD linked to Substance Use Disorders (drugs and alcohol) – National Library of Medicine 

“Adult ADHD is a significantly impairing condition among workers.” – US National Library of Medicine/National Institute of Health

“Adult ADHD was associated with lower educational attainment and lower level of employment.” – Sage Journals (scientific studies)

“Adults who reported having received a diagnosis of ADHD in the community had significant impairment in multiple domains of functioning compared with age- and gender-matched controls without this diagnosis” – US National Library of Medicine/National Institute of Health

“ADHD young adults were cited more often for speeding, were more likely to have had their licenses suspended, were involved in more crashes, were more likely to have had crashes causing bodily injury, and were rated by themselves and others as using poorer driving habits. Official driving records corroborated these negative outcomes. ” – American Academy of Pediatrics 

Why the Diagnosis of ADHD Matters: Adult ADHD is UNDER treated. “During adolescence and young adulthood, only 50.9 and 28.9%, respectively, of those meeting DSM IV criteria for ADHD had received any treatment in the past 3 months (). There are multiple factors that contribute to this decline in ADHD treatment that accompanies adulthood. Physician may rely more on adolescents reporting their own symptoms at this age, as they have less supervision by their parents; however, adolescents may minimize their behavioral problems, which can lower the probability of receiving an accurate diagnosis of ADHD (). In addition, it is very common for adolescents who received a diagnosis in childhood to discontinue medical care over time (). Physicians should obtain previous records of adolescents to review prior ADHD symptomology and to evaluate for comorbidities including substance use disorders (SUD), depression, and anxiety (). – National Library of Medicine

Join the discussion 7 Comments

  • Tamara says:

    So you’re saying Im kind of a big deal? 😉
    I wasn’t diagnosed until age 43. I have been shocked at all the ways and days this disorder has affected me. Though a somewhat “normal, functioning adult” with a family and career I was/am frustrated every single day, certain that everyone else had gotten The Memo Re: How to Do All the Things.
    At least now it makes more sense. I can put aside the “whyyyyyyy??!!” and roll up my sleeves, ready for the how-to’s being shared here.
    Thank you so much for sharing what you have learned in such a down-to-earth, real and welcoming way!

    • Kristen says:

      Hi Tamara! So good to hear from you! I didn’t get that memo either – so frustrating – I feel like I am just becoming human at the ripe age of 37. But I’m happy you’re here and I’m happy we’re in this together!


  • Forex Review says:

    Many people with ADHD abuse popular and highly addictive drugs because they say the use of these chemicals helps ease the symptoms of their mental condition. Typically, ADHD cannot be successfully treated until the individual’s problem of addiction has been taken care of. This means someone with an addiction and ADHD must detox and receive treatment first before they can begin the process of effectively treating their ADHD.

    • Kristen says:

      Hello! I’d love to see some scientific research to support your claims. Please reply with your sources! The research that I’ve included in this post show that people with ADHD abuse popular and highly addictive drugs because they have chosen NOT to treat their ADHD and their brains are lacking in crucial chemicals like dopamine. They’ve most likely been told their adult ADHD is no big deal, so instead of treating it properly they self-medicate with alcohol, nicotine and/or other drugs. They “say” the use of these chemicals eases the symptoms of their medical condition because the use of the chemicals DOES ease the symptoms of the medical condition. This is why we need to encourage ADHDers to treat their mental health condition in conjunction with intervention and/or rehabilitation so that they can give up the use of drugs and alcohol as self-medicating coping mechanisms. An adult with ADHD will likely go right back to addiction if their ADHD remains untreated. //

  • One of the things I’ve noticed since becoming aware of ADHD is how many women who are thought of as annoying, obnoxious, unreliable, flaky or “crazy” seem to be dealing with undiagnosed ADHD. It breaks my heart. For so long, I worked SO HARD to appear responsible and reliable in order to hide my symptoms. On the one hand, because I didn’t know what they were symptoms OF. But also because I knew that, if I didn’t manage them, and work my ass off to seem like a neurotypical person, I’D get branded “annoying, obnoxious, unreliable” and flaky. Learning about ADHD has opened me up to the reality that society judges these symptoms as character flaws and basically writes off the people who suffer from them — and we’re already suffering so much. Thanks for what you’re doing. It’s great work and very valuable.

    • Kristen says:

      oooooh Yes this is so true!!! So so so true! And, if we’re honest, a lot of times we even judge ourselves for our own symptoms. OUCHIE! Thanks for your response – I’m so glad to know you!

  • Rik says:

    I have been diagnosed with ADHD since I was old enough to talk to someone about it.
    My parents never really did a great deal to help because in the 90s it was considered "made up".

    Can you believe that I wasn’t properly medicated until I was 14 or 15 and then I ended up on a near ten year gap before I was medicated again?

    I married a woman with ADHD and our home is not as chaotic as you’d think. She’s a scientist and I’m an Infrastructure and Dev Ops leader. We have three awesome kids but it’s REALLY hard to function like normal people.

    Yes, there’s a reason, YES, it’s a monster and we have our fair share of fights that escalate because of it but afterwards we know how much we mean to each other and that none of it was necessarily down to us.

    It’s real hard raising kids and keeping a career with ADHD. I’m significantly more affected than my wife is so she’s usually the one who manages to pull it together. I sometimes still wish that I could motivate myself more but I’ve just found this site and podcast. It’s already helping a lot so thanks.

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