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Adult attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

  • Overview


    Adult Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a mental health disorder that causes persistent issues, like difficulty paying attention, hyperactivity, and impulsive behaviour. It can lead to unstable relationships, poor work or school performance, low self-esteem, and other problems.

    Although it’s known as adult ADHD, symptoms can start in early childhood and continue into adulthood. Sometimes, ADHD isn’t identified or diagnosed until the individual becomes an adult. Adult ADHD symptoms might not be as obvious as they are in children. In adults, hyperactivity may decrease, but struggles with impulsiveness, restlessness, and difficulty paying attention may persist.

    Treatment for adult ADHD is similar to that for childhood ADHD. It includes medications, psychological counselling (psychotherapy), and therapy for any mental health issues accompanying ADHD.

  • Symptoms


    As people with ADHD grow older, some may experience reduced symptoms while others struggle with significant impairments affecting their daily lives. For adults, the primary symptoms of ADHD typically include difficulty concentrating, impulsiveness, and restlessness. The severity of these symptoms can vary from person to person.

    It’s common for adults with ADHD to be unaware of their condition and, instead, recognise the challenges they face in their daily routines. These individuals may struggle with prioritising and maintaining focus, leading to missed deadlines, forgotten appointments, and social events. Additionally, they may work on controlling their impulses, manifesting as impatience, mood swings, and even outbursts of anger.

    Adult ADHD symptoms may include:
    Disorganisation and problems prioritising
    Poor time management skills
    Problems focusing on a task
    Trouble multitasking
    Excessive activity or restlessness
    Poor planning
    Low frustration tolerance
    Frequent mood swings
    Problems following through and completing tasks
    Hot temper
    Trouble coping with stress

    What’s typical behaviour, and what’s ADHD?
    Many people experience ADHD-like symptoms at some point in their lives. However, if your difficulties are recent or infrequent, you are unlikely to have ADHD. ADHD is only diagnosed when symptoms are severe enough to cause ongoing problems in multiple areas of your life. These persistent and disruptive symptoms often have their roots in early childhood.

    Diagnosing ADHD in adults can be challenging because its symptoms are similar to those of other conditions, such as anxiety or mood disorders. Many adults with ADHD also have at least one other mental health condition, such as depression or anxiety.

  • When to see a doctor


    If any of the symptoms mentioned in the list consistently affect your daily life, it is advisable to discuss with your doctor the possibility of having ADHD. Various healthcare professionals can diagnose and monitor ADHD treatment. It is recommended to find a provider who has experience and expertise in treating adults with ADHD.

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  • Causes


    The cause of ADHD is still uncertain, but research is ongoing to find out more. Genetics may play a role, as ADHD often runs in families. Additionally, environmental factors, such as exposure to lead during childhood, may increase the risk of developing ADHD. Furthermore, issues with the central nervous system during critical developmental stages may also contribute to the development of ADHD.

  • Risk factors


    Several factors may increase the risk of developing ADHD, including having a blood relative with ADHD or another mental health disorder, exposure to environmental toxins as a child (such as lead found in older building paint and pipes), being born prematurely, and if your mother smoked, drank alcohol, or used drugs during pregnancy.

  • Prevention



  • *Please note that the information provided in the article is for reference purposes only. It is essential to consult a doctor before applying any of the suggestions mentioned.

Content Details

Medical info from Mayo Clinic, for reference only. Visit Hoan My for better advice.

Last updated on: 07/08/2023