Puzzle pieces: The signs of ADHD in adults

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ADHD is commonly thought of as a childhood disorder. For lots of people, that’s true – symptoms can hugely decrease as children grow up. But for many, ADHD symptoms continue into adulthood. Lots of people don’t even get diagnosed until they are well into their adult years.

Adult ADHD symptoms can be more subtle than those in children, as we learn to mask our ‘failings’ with coping mechanisms. However, I have spoken to several adults who sought (and received) diagnosis after reading about the symptoms. A light bulb pinged above their head as they thought, “That’s me!”.

The symptoms used to recognise adult ADHD in the UK are listed here. Some of the important ones, in a bit more detail, are:  

Inability to focus

This is the hallmark of inattentive ADHD. Drifting off, despite best intentions, during a conversation or lesson; opening new tabs at work and losing track of the job you were doing; missing a plot point in a TV show, rewinding, and then missing it again.

It can be extremely frustrating and, to outsiders, can look like the person just doesn’t care. In reality, it’s just as annoying to the sufferer, who would dearly like to engage properly in long conversations and easily follow the plot of movies.

Inability to prioritise

Inability to prioritise is more commonly complained about under another moniker: procrastination!

The ADHD brain finds it hard to emotionally prioritise certain tasks above others, even if it logically knows that taxes are more vital than watching Netflix.

Things that are interesting or fun might get done straight away, as instant gratification is always a winner. Tasks that “should” be done are ignored until they “need” to be done – and sometimes for even longer. Consequences of inaction don’t hold weight within the ADHD brain until they are right on the doorstep.

Forgetfulness

Forgetfulness can plague all aspects of life.

The most obvious damage is caused by the big things – anniversaries, bill payments, that presentation that was meant to be finished by today and hasn’t been started yet.

Less public, but insidious in grinding down self-esteem, is the everyday forgetfulness. Pans boiled dry. Dogs walked late. Things put down and immediately lost. Stairs tackled five or six times because the goal dissolves from memory at the summit.

Starting new projects

Hyper-focus is a gift and a curse of ADHD. Projects get started with huge enthusiasm, worked on for hours of rapt attention and then… suddenly cast aside for a shiny new idea.

This tendency can lead to innovation but also frustration, for those who can’t get a handle on it. It can also be expensive!

Social issues

There are several of these commonly found in ADHD sufferers. They can lead to alienation through childhood and beyond, which has lasting negative effects on the psyche. They include:

  • – Difficulty keeping quiet when thinking of something (interrupting, speaking out of turn)
  • – Similarly, poor social timing (saying things at the wrong moment or laughing inappropriately)
  • – Impatience (hurrying others along, getting frustrated when things aren’t progressing)
  • – Irritability/quick temper
  • – Mood swings
  • – Easily overwhelmed by sensory input (awkwardness with touching, being spoken to in the wrong way)

Sound familiar?

If all of this sounds remarkably like you, it may be worth asking your GP for a referral. I work with many ADHD patients, who benefit hugely from holistic treatments like hypnotherapy (instead of or alongside medication).

Those who don’t want a formal diagnosis, have failed to receive one, or who are still waiting, can also find a lot of use in hypnotherapy – a piece of paper doesn’t define or erase the issues caused by the symptoms I’ve listed, even if they are not recognised as ADHD specifically.

Please feel free to contact me for more information and/or a no-obligation assessment.