Adult ADHD Symptoms

Adult ADHD Symptoms

Adult ADHD Symptoms

Table of Contents

What is ADHD?

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a mental disorder characterized by trouble paying attention, hyperactivity, and impulsive behaviors. ADHD is commonly diagnosed in childhood and can often carry over into adulthood. However, in some cases, ADHD may not be diagnosed until someone is an adult. According to the American Psychiatric Association, “An estimated 8.4% of children and 2.5% of adults have ADHD.”1 ADHD can negatively impact someone’s life in many ways. However, there are tested treatment methods that have proven to be effective for the treatment of ADHD symptoms.

What Causes ADHD?

Scientific studies have shown correlations between physical, environmental, and genetic factors that make someone more likely to have ADHD. These studies have shown that genetics play an important role. Research has also shown that parents and siblings of someone with ADHD are more likely to have ADHD themselves. The CDC states other factors that might make someone more likely to have ADHD, including:
  • Alcohol and tobacco use during pregnancy
  • Brain injury
  • Exposure to lead at a young age or other environmental factors
  • Low birth weight
  • Premature delivery 2

ADD vs. ADHD

Attention deficit disorder (ADD) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are similar disorders, but they do have some differences. ADD is a type of ADHD that does not involve constant movement and fidgeting. People who struggle with ADD are often seen as daydreamers. Unlike ADHD, those who struggle with ADD may seem shy or like they are in their own world. Due to the symptoms of ADD being more internal, those who struggle with this disorder can often go undiagnosed.3

Statistics on ADHD

ADHD in Children

According to the CDC, a national 2016 parent survey found that 6.1 million children, or 9.4%, have been diagnosed with ADHD.
  • Over twice as many boys are diagnosed with ADHD compared to girls (12.9% compared to 5.6%).
  • About 30% of children who have ADHD are also diagnosed with anxiety.
  • 62% of children diagnosed with ADHD take ADHD medication.
  • Approximately 47% of children diagnosed with this disorder received behavioral treatment to work on their ADHD symptoms.4

ADHD in Adults

If you or a loved one are displaying signs of ADHD or adult ADHD, seek the opinion of a medical professional. There are multiple ways that a doctor might do an ADHD test.

What Can an ADHD Test Do for You?

While adults are less commonly diagnosed with ADHD, adult ADHD diagnosis rates are rising. In recent years, adult ADHD diagnosis rates have been rising by an average of 123% each year. However, despite this sharp increase in diagnosis rates, adult ADHD is still underdiagnosed. It is estimated that fewer than 20% of all adults with ADHD are currently diagnosed or receiving treatment. Adult ADHD also coincides with other disorders. Roughly half of all adults with ADHD also struggle with anxiety. Those who struggle with ADHD are also 1.5 times more likely to develop a substance use disorder. These statistics show why it is so critical for adults with ADHD to get a medical diagnosis and receive proper treatment and support.5

Types of ADHD

There are different types of ADHD including: 

Inattentive ADHD

Inattentive ADHD is also known as ADD. This type of ADHD is more internal and can often be mistaken as anxiety or a mood disorder in adults. Inattentive ADHD is often characterized by daydreaming, trouble focusing, and forgetfulness. 

Hyperactive-Impulsive ADHD

Hyperactive-impulsive ADHD is a type that is more common in children since symptoms of hyperactivity will often lessen with age. However, adults may still struggle with this form of ADHD. Characteristics of hyperactive-impulsive ADHD include an inability to sit still, interrupting conversations, and impulsive behaviors. While this type is a less common form of ADHD, it can negatively affect those who struggle with it in many ways.6

Combination Type

The combination type of ADHD is a mix of both the inattentive and hyperactive-impulsive forms of ADHD. Individuals who are diagnosed with combination type ADHD experience close to an equal number of symptoms between the two disorders. While some people may think that this form of ADHD is more severe, that is not necessarily the case. The severity of the symptoms will depend on the individual.7

What are the Symptoms of ADHD?

Adult ADHD can often go undiagnosed. However, knowing the signs and symptoms of ADHD can help those struggling get the help that is needed.

Inattentive ADHD Symptoms

Common inattentive ADHD symptoms are:

  • Appearing distracted when being spoken to
  • Daydreaming or zoning out frequently
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Being easily distracted by external stimuli
  • Leaving projects unfinished
  • Losing things easily
  • Problems staying organized
  • Trouble following organized instructions

All of these symptoms can negatively impact adults who struggle with inattentive ADHD. However, there are treatment options available. 

Hyperactive-Impulsive ADHD Symptoms

Common hyperactive-impulsive ADHD symptoms are:
  • Blurting out comments at inappropriate times
  • Fidgeting or squirming
  • Interrupting conversations
  • Nonstop talking
  • Lacking patience
  • Trouble sitting still or completing quiet tasks
  • Trouble waiting inline
Many of these symptoms are more common in children and will often lessen with age. However, adults with this type of ADHD can still struggle with these symptoms.

Combination Type Symptoms

Common combination type ADHD signs are:
  • Appearing to not listen when spoken to
  • Becoming confused easily
  • Being easily distracted
  • Difficulty completing assignments or tasks
  • Difficulty following instructions
  • Easily forgetting things or events
All of these symptoms can negatively impact someone who struggles with combination type ADHD. However, proper treatment and support can help make it easier to deal with the symptoms.

The Connection Between ADHD and Addiction

There is a strong correlation between ADHD and addiction. Studies have shown that those who struggle with ADHD are more likely to develop a substance use disorder at some point in their life.

What Drugs Do People with ADHD Typically Abuse?

People with ADHD may abuse several different drugs. One of the most commonly abused drugs by those with ADHD is prescription stimulants like Adderall, Ritalin, or Vyvanse which are prescribed for the treatment of ADHD symptoms. While these drugs do work for the treatment of ADHD, they are highly addictive, especially when misused or abused. When someone is prescribed ADHD medication, they must only take the amount that is prescribed by a medical professional. Alcohol is also commonly abused by those with ADHD. Alcohol abuse rates among those struggling with ADHD are approximately 25%. This factor shows a strong correlation between the abuse of alcohol and other substances when someone struggles with ADHD.7

What Causes Addiction?

Symptoms of ADHD can make someone more likely to abuse addictive substances. Those who struggle with ADHD will have reduced impulse control, which can lead to a person being more likely to abuse drugs in a binge-like pattern. Behavioral issues that lead to addiction are also common in those who struggle with ADHD. This disorder can lead to someone being more susceptible to developing an addiction. Lastly, those who struggle with ADHD may try to use recreational drugs as a form of self-medication to deal with their symptoms. Over time, self-medication can lead to developing a dependence on the drug. 

Treatment for ADHD and Addiction

When someone struggles with ADHD and addiction, it can negatively affect their life in many ways. However, there are effective addiction and ADHD treatment options available that can help.

Detox for Dual Diagnosis SUD and ADHD

When treating someone with a dual diagnosis of both SUD and ADHD, both issues must be treated simultaneously to get the best results. During the detox process, a dual diagnosis patient will receive services that will treat the symptoms associated with both the addiction and ADHD. Treating both disorders will help make the detox more safe, effective, and comfortable for the patient.

Therapies

Therapy is important in the treatment process for those who struggle with both addiction and ADHD. A behavioral therapist can help a patient work on coping mechanisms for both disorders and create a plan to help them cope with the stresses of life without the use of drugs and alcohol.

ADHD Medication

Taking ADHD medication during the treatment process can make it easier and more comfortable for the patient. By treating the symptoms of ADHD through medication, it will alleviate behavioral issues and keep the patient’s mind focused as they work on recovering from their addiction.

Aftercare

Aftercare programs are recommended for both ADHD and addiction for those who have a dual diagnosis. Behavioral therapy, group therapy, and 12-step programs can all be useful forms of aftercare to help maintain sobriety long term.

Brain Mapping for ADHD

What is Brain Mapping?

Brain mapping is a type of neurofeedback treatment that helps evaluate brainwaves and identify ways to improve communication between various regions of the brain. During a brain mapping session, a cap is placed on the scalp, and software is used to capture electrical impulses in the brain. This treatment usually takes about 15 minutes and then the data is converted into a brain map report.8

Types of Brain Scans

There are three different types of brain scans that might be used which are computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and positive emission tomography (PET).

Brain Mapping for ADHD

Brain mapping can be useful for the treatment of ADHD. ADHD consists of problems with behavior and impulse control. Neurofeedback treatment can help someone who struggles with ADHD work on their behavior patterns over time.