How to Recognize Adult ADHD Symptoms

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Some of the symptoms associated with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) can become more pronounced with age, while others grow more subtle. These guidelines will help you determine if you or a loved one have a problem.

Step 1: Review childhood history
Review childhood history for behavioral problems and poor grades. Most adults with ADHD showed symptoms as children, though factors such as higher intelligence or strong structure at home or school might have obscured their symptoms as children.

Step 2: Consider other problems
Consider if anxiety, major depression, or substance abuse are also problems. Research has found that 4 out of 5 adults with ADHD show signs of at least one other psychiatric disorder.

Step 3: Recognize the behaviors
Recognize the behaviors and symptoms common to adults with ADHD: Chronic lateness and forgetfulness, low self-esteem, difficulty controlling anger, impulsiveness, poor organization skills, chronic boredom, difficulty concentrating when reading, mood swings, and troubled relationships.

Adults with ADHD often have multiple divorces, spotty employment records, and repeated driving violations.

Step 4: Know the criteria
Know the criteria for ADHD in adults: 6 or more symptoms of inattention or hyperactivity that have lasted at least 6 months, causing trouble in 2 or more areas of their life, like marriage or work.

Adults with ADHD are more likely to suffer from inattention rather than the physical hyperactivity associated with childhood ADHD.

Step 5: Get help
If you recognized yourself or a loved one in these symptoms, consult a mental health professional. Adult ADHD can be controlled with medication and therapy.

Did You Know?
Brain scans of adults with ADHD suggested a flaw in the way they process dopamine, the brain chemical that plays an important role in motivation, reward, working memory, and learning.

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