Adults with ADHD

Living as an adult with ADHD


ADHD was long considered a condition of childhood and adolescence, but the symptoms and effects of ADHD do not always disappear in adulthood. The condition persists in 30-60% of cases. The condition can have a major impact on a person’s quality of life.

ADHD in adults is different from ADHD in children, partly because there is a significant change in the manifestation of symptoms. During the passage from childhood to adulthood, symptoms of hyperactivity and anxiety can manifest together, and symptoms of inattentiveness usually manifest as a difficulty in carrying out tasks. These symptoms can affect a person’s functioning in various ways.

The diagnosis in adults is complicated by co-existing conditions. The symptoms of ADHD may overlap with other conditions, such as substance abuse, anxiety, or mood conditions.

Symptoms of ADHD in adults

Hyperactivity may be expressed by these symptoms:

  • Constant activity
  • Overloaded schedules
  • Choosing jobs that require a large time commitment
  • Becoming a workaholic

Attention deficit can manifest itself as these symptoms:

  • Problems with paying attention and concentrating
  • Disorganisation and inability to organise jobs or tasks
  • Difficulty starting and finishing projects
  • Time-management problems
  • Forgetting things easily

Impulsivity may make an adult with ADHD do the following:

  • End relationships prematurely
  • Frequently change jobs
  • Lack patience for different activities
  • Lose control
  • Drive recklessly (with a higher than average percentage of accidents)
  • Receive a high number of traffic fines or driver’s licence withdrawals
  • Abuse substances

Impact on life

Symptoms of impulsivity in adulthood have a strong impact on family, work, and social life.

Adults say their ADHD behaviour can lead to misunderstandings with others and difficulties in relationships with their partners, family, friends, and work colleagues.