9 Signs You Might have Adult ADHD and Why Getting Treatment is So Important

Do you feel out of sync with the clock, always trying to catch up? Always late or scattered? Do you feel like you are constantly letting others down? Do you often say something impulsively, only to regret it later? Do you struggle to get back into what you were doing after being interrupted? 

Maybe you recognize yourself in these symptoms but tell yourself, “I can’t have adhd, I’m not hyperactive”. Being hyperactive and bouncing off the walls is somewhat of a myth for Adult ADHD. Hyperactivity is more commonly seen in kids with ADHD, and not seen as much later in life. Adults might experience hyperactivity as feeling jittery, restless, antsy, or always needing to be busy.

So, just because you don’t have the “classic” hyperactivity symptom doesn’t mean that you don’t have ADHD.



What symptoms are usually present in Adult ADHD?

Dr. Russell Barkley has been researching and treating ADHD for more than 35 years and in his book Taking Charge of Adult ADHD has identified 9 key symptoms that most accurately diagnose ADHD in adults. 

Do you often…

  • Easily get distracted by extraneous stimuli or irrelevant thoughts?
  • Make decisions impulsively?
  • Have difficulty stopping activities or behavior when you should do so?
  • Start a project or task without reading or listening to directions carefully?
  • Fail to follow through on promises or commitments you make to others?
  • Have trouble doing things in their proper order or sequence?
  • Drive much faster than others - or, if you don’t drive, have difficulty engaging in leisure activities or doing fun things quietly?
  • Have difficulty sustaining attention in tasks or recreational activities?
  • Have difficulty organizing tasks and activities?

If you checked off four of the first seven, or six of all nine symptoms on the list, you should seek an evaluation from a qualified mental health professional. According to Barkley, you are highly likely to have ADHD.


Why is it so important to know if I have ADHD? Aren’t all adults “a little bit ADHD”?

All adults can be inattentive or running late at times. But true ADHD does not happen “every once in a while”. It is a constant struggle. Adult ADHD/ADD can cause major problems, and left untreated, can lead to job difficulties, bankruptcy, or divorce.

Untreated ADHD can cause real world consequences that can really mess up your life. Typical problems adolescents and adults with ADHD may have:

  • poor functioning at work
  • frequent job changes
  • risky sexual behavior or increased teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases
  • Unsafe driving (speeding, frequent accidents)
  • Difficulties managing finances (impulsive spending, excessive use of credit cards, poor debt repayment, little or no savings)
  • problems in dating or marital relationships


A closer look at some of these symptoms

1. Short attention span or lack or persistence on tasks - especially when you have to do something that is tedious, drawn out, or boring.

Example - when cleaning your house, you make your bed, and take something to the kitchen, only to see the dirty dishes everywhere, and start to load the dishwasher. But then, you have to throw away some trash and see that the trashcan is full, so you take that out to the cans in the garage. When you are in the garage, you notice that your car is dirty, so you run in and get your keys so you can take your car to the car wash real quick. But when you run inside, you can’t find your keys because they are on the dining room table underneath piles of mail that you desperately need to file away.

Sound familiar?

2. Impaired ability to control impulses and delay gratification

Do people tell you to “look before you leap” or often ask you “What were you thinking?” Do you wait to go to the grocery store until your kids are begging you for food that hasn’t expired yet - like all the food in your pantry? Ok, maybe that’s just me.

Do you put off running errands until you absolutely have to do it or you’ll be completely out of toilet paper? And then when you finally run your errands, you spend more than you planned because you got sidetracked in the store and got that shiny thing that you just had to have? (My recommendation - don’t go to Sam’s Club or Costco if you have untreated ADHD and must remain on a budget)

3. Driving Issues

Do you drive aggressively? Have multiple speeding or parking tickets, because you just can’t take the time to drive the speed limit or to find a legal parking space? Do you experience road rage when other drivers don’t drive fast enough or won’t move out of your way? Are you easily distracted, so much so that you’ve been in accidents due to not paying attention, such as rear ending someone at a stop light?


So, maybe I have Adult ADHD, but why should I get Professional Help? Can’t I just do it on my own?

How has doing it on your own been working for you so far? For most people struggling with ADHD, it just isn’t possible to make improvement without help. Also, because ADHD so often occurs along with another disorder, it is important to get both issues treated.

Reasons to seek a professional evaluation:

  • To make sure your symptoms aren’t being caused by a condition other than ADHD that needs attention.
  • To discover whether your problems are being caused by a combination of ADHD and some other condition, such as depression, anxiety or bipolar disorder.
  • To find out where your strengths and weaknesses are so you can aim your coping efforts exactly where they are needed.
  • To find the right treatment for your symptoms, including possibly medication, which is shown to be effective or have positive effects in almost 90% of those with ADHD.
  • To find support and accountability.
The goal of getting a good evaluation is to find out exactly what is wrong and what you have going for you so that a treatment plan can be designed to set you on the road to health and success as quickly as possible. - Dr. Barkley - Taking Charge of Adult ADHD


Treatment can help you feel like the playing field is level for the first time in your life, so it is important to get evaluated. Don’t waste another minute wrestling with trying to make your brain behave and be “normal”. 

The goal of getting a good evaluation is to find out exactly what is wrong and what you have going for you so that a treatment plan can be designed to set you on the road to health and success as quickly as possible.
— Dr. Russell Barkley, Taking Charge of Adult ADHD

What symptoms are most challenging for you? Are certain symptoms causing you more problems than others? Let me know in the comments. I'd love to hear from you.

Do you think you might have ADHD and want to get help managing your symptoms? 

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