Adult ADHD: 5 Things to Know

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder is often thought of as a pediatric condition; however, it often continues into adulthood. Some adults with ADHD were diagnosed as children and continue to experience symptoms, while others were not diagnosed in their childhood.

The number of adults seeking treatment for ADHD is on the rise. A diagnosis of ADHD is important in adults, because those suffering tend to have higher rates of unplanned pregnancies, accidents, and substance abuse.

Here are five things you should know about adult ADHD:

Hyperactivity, Inattention, and Impulsivity Are the Main Symptoms

For an adult to be diagnosed with ADHD, they must exhibit at least five of the most common symptoms of hyperactivity, inattention, or impulsivity criteria. There are a wide range of actions that could fall into these categories, such as not being able to pay attention to details, being unable to organize tasks, and being unable to remain seated when necessary. Adults with ADHD may also find themselves talking excessively or fidgeting while they stay in one place.

Adults who feel like they are out of control of their own energy may have hyperactivity. Those who have trouble paying their bills or being on time to work may also be showing signs of ADHD. These adults often have a difficult time keeping a job for the long term and find themselves either quitting or getting fired often. Adults with ADHD may also find that other people complain that they don’t seem to be listening when spoken to. This may seem like the ADHD patient is uninterested, but it could just be their inattentiveness.

DSM-5 Updates

The DSM-5 recently reported that ADHD does not begin to go away or fade at a certain age. It even notes that adults need to show fewer symptoms than children in order to get a diagnosis.

While children often show obvious signs of hyperactivity such as running around when they’re supposed to be sitting, adults are often just restless and unable to sit still. If you have ADHD as an adult, you may recall being a rambunctious child, but that tends to manifest itself in other ways as an adult. These changes are not drastic, but there is certainly a different way in which adults exhibit their hyperactivity than children.

Genetics May Play a Role

According to research, if a parent suffers from ADHD, their child then has a 57% chance of suffering from it as well.

Sometimes when a parent has a child diagnosed with ADHD, they may realize that they also have symptoms of this condition. Looking back to childhood, they may remember not being able to perform well in school or having trouble fitting in with other children. In their adult years, they may find they have a difficult time with transitions into predictable situations like a relationship or a professional routine.

Being distracted easily can sabotage relationships with family and friends, because it may be seen as other as being self-centered. Adults that have this issue and then have a child diagnosed with ADHD and had not considered ADHD to be a possible reason for their own behavior, should then consider it.

Adults with ADHD Are at a Higher Risk for Suicide

Doctors know that adults with ADHD are more likely to suffer from a comorbid mental illness, such as depression or schizophrenia. Research has also shown that people suffering from ADHD may also have a higher risk of suicide due to the fact that they are likely to have multiple mental health disorders.

Researchers adjusted this data for this reason to exclude people who have multiple psychiatric disorders. Their results were steady and continued to show that the risk of suicide among adults with ADHD remained much higher than adults without ADHD.

More specifically, a 2008 study found that adults who suffered from ADHD in childhood were twice as likely to have either considered or attempted suicide than those without ADHD.

Adult ADHD Is Recently Recognized

An increasing number of adults are being diagnosed with ADHD. Older adults who seek help from mental health care providers concerning their symptoms may initially believe that that they are showing early signs of dementia. Some of the symptoms of dementia and adult ADHD are similar, such as forgetting about a project at work or constantly losing your keys.

Additionally, some adults may just be seen as thrill seekers. Adults with ADHD are drawn to behaviors that are stimulating and risky. This may be like fast driving, extramarital affairs, or gambling. Most doctors don’t stop to consider an ADHD diagnosis for adults that are over the age of 60, but with the recent recognition of ADHD in adults, better training among health care professionals is in order so it can be more widely recognized.

Diego Cervo /

Diego Cervo /