Mental Health


Mandy Kloppers

Think You Have ADHD? Here’s What You Need To Know

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a common condition that affects a significant number of people around the world. The disorder is typically diagnosed in childhood but often persists into adulthood. In the past, many people with ADHD have gone through life completely unaware.

Certainly, such persons would have found specific tasks challenging. Persons with ADHD can have trouble focusing or paying attention to a single task. Similarly, these persons might display controlling impulsive behaviors or be overly active.

With more people openly talking about their ADHD experiences, a couple more people are recognizing ADHD symptoms in their habits. If you think you might have ADHD, here’s everything you need to know.

Symptoms of ADHD

The symptoms displayed by persons with ADHD are broadly categorized into two classes of behavioral problems.

1. Inattentiveness

This category of behavioral problems includes symptoms such as:

  • Short attention span and easily distracted
  • Propensity to make careless mistakes
  • Forgetfulness and loss of items
  • Inability to concentrate on tedious and time-consuming tasks
  • Inability to listen to and follow instructions
  • Propensity to constantly switch activities
  • Difficulty with organization

2. Hyperactivity & Impulsiveness

This category of ADHD behavioral problems includes:

  • Inability to stay still in quiet surroundings
  • Tendency to fidget
  • Lack of concentration
  • Excessive physical movement
  • Talkative
  • Impatience
  • Tendency to interrupt conversations
  • Little/no sense of danger

It is important to note that these two categories are not necessarily mutually exclusive. Essentially, some individuals may display symptoms from both categories. This is, however, not always the case.

In fact, 2 to 3 in 10 persons with ADHD display symptoms relating to inattentiveness but not hyperactivity and impulsiveness. This type of ADHD is termed Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). This is, however, a more subtle condition and can, as a result, go unnoticed in many people.

A comprehensive understanding of ADHD’s symptoms can help you self-assess if you have the condition. Nevertheless, it is crucial to note that no self-assessment, regardless of how convincing it might seem, is a substitute for an actual diagnosis. This is because many ADHD symptoms can be confused with those of conditions like anxiety and depression.

Getting a diagnosis

The only way you can know if you have ADHD for sure is to get a medical diagnosis. Noteworthy, diagnosing ADHD in adults is much more difficult than in children.

Medical practitioners disagree on whether the symptoms used to diagnose children also apply to adults. Furthermore, these symptoms can be more difficult to assess since adults may have learned to hide them over the years.

Also, since no single test for ADHD exists, medical professionals use multiple evaluations. In some cases, an adult is diagnosed with ADHD if they display five or more symptoms of either inattentiveness or hyperactivity/impulsiveness.

Notably, adults cannot be diagnosed with ADHD if such symptoms are not confirmed to have been present since childhood. Based on current diagnostic guidelines, ADHD cannot appear for the first time in adulthood.

Here are some factors that are taken into account for an ADHD diagnosis:

·         Personal history

Since ADHD is believed to emerge from childhood, your physician would expectedly ask a lot of questions regarding your personal history. A diagnosis might also involve consulting a parent, guardian or teacher who can provide details regarding your childhood behaviors. Childhood records might also be required.

·        Present difficulty

Another factor taken into consideration is whether you are experiencing moderate to extreme difficulty in different areas of life. Such difficulties could include problems with maintaining relationships, trouble paying bills, dangerous driving, and challenges at work or with studies. An adult diagnosis of ADHD cannot be made if you have no significant difficulties.

·   Mental health conditions

To arrive at an ADHD diagnosis for an adult, a physician will typically rule out other mental health conditions that might explain symptoms and difficulties. Thus, you can expect to be subjected to extensive cognitive testing to check for potential learning or intellectual disabilities. You will also likely be screened for personality or mood disorders.

Managing ADHD

Getting a medical diagnosis for ADHD is a significant step toward successfully managing it. ADHD is best managed through a combination of medication, therapy and lifestyle changes.

·  Medications

This is the primary way of treating ADHD. Adults are typically prescribed the same ADHD medicine as children. Prescribed medications could include stimulants and non-stimulants. Similarly, antidepressant and anti-anxiety medications could be prescribed depending on the situation.

The primary ADHD medication types include methylphenidate, lisdexamfetamine, dexamfetamine, atomoxetine and guanfacine.

·    Therapy

This can be a great way to manage the stress and emotions that accompany ADHD. Therapy is usually intended to treat ADHD-associated problems like anxiety disorders.

Most notably, behavioral therapy is extensively used to help persons with ADHD manage their behaviors. Persons with ADHD can also engage in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to learn new techniques to manage their ADHD symptoms.

·  Lifestyle changes

Some overall changes can help improve the management of ADHD. For instance, persons with ADHD are encouraged to get enough sleep, exercise, maintain a balanced diet and properly manage stress.


Confirming whether you have ADHD and subsequently seeking treatment could have a significant positive impact on your life. Thus, if you suspect you might have ADHD, it is certainly recommended that you take the appropriate steps to obtain a diagnosis and get treatment.

Photo by Nik Shuliahin on Unsplash

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