Could You Have Adult ADHD?

Author: Danielle Forshee Psy.D, LCSW

adult-adhdRecently, I have had a few friends ask me if I think they have adult Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Usually, I start out by asking them to consider what may be going on in their lives that could be causing them difficulty with concentrating or focusing. For many adults, stressors of daily living, never-ending responsibilities, and the unpredictability of life transitions can be daunting, and chronic elevated stress can result in brain fog and difficulty with focus and concentration. Symptoms in this context are usually not indicative of ADHD; however, if you believe that you or a friend may be struggling with ADHD, here is what you need to know (DSM-5, 2013):

Within the past 6 months you have had a minimum of 5 of the following symptoms that have interfered with your social and work/academic functioning on a nearly daily basis:

  • You overlook or miss details in your work
  • You have difficulty staying focused during lectures, conversations or lengthy reading
  • When you are not distracted, your mind drifts off from what you need to focus on
  • You are easily sidetracked from projects and don’t complete tasks
  • You have difficulty managing time; keeping your belongings in order; you fail to meet deadlines; you are disorganized
  • You are reluctant to, or avoid, tasks that require sustained mental effort
  • You often loose things necessary for tasks
  • You are easily distracted by even small things
  • You are forgetful with paying bills, keeping appointments, returning calls, etc.

Also, within the past 6 months you have also had a minimum of 5 of the following symptoms that has negatively impacted your social and work/academic functioning on nearly a daily basis (several inattentive symptoms had to have been present before you were 12 years old):

  • You often fidget
  • You have to get up and move when in situations that require you to sit for a period of time
  • You feel restless most of the time
  • You have difficulty engaging in leisurely activities quietly
  • You are often on the go, and others describe you as being difficult to keep up with or restless
  • You often complete other’s sentences, or cannot wait for your turn in a conversation
  • You have difficulty waiting in line, or waiting your turn for something
  • You often intrude and take over what others are doing

With all of this information and Google and WebMD at our fingertips, it is hard not to self-diagnose. This is only meant to act as guide. So, please make sure to see a mental health professional before you convince yourself that you have ADHD, as there may be many other things going on that could be causing your symptoms.