As humans, it’s normal to experience occasional distraction, forgetfulness, or disorganization when dealing with the demands of modern life.
However, many people encounter these challenges every day. No matter how much they try to change their thoughts, habits, or behavior, they struggle to complete important tasks in their daily lives without knowing why.
These mental roadblocks could be a sign of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD. This condition affects the prefrontal cortex, the area of the brain responsible for self-management. When a person has ADHD, the disorder inhibits their ability to effectively pay attention, plan, follow directions, solve problems, or make decisions each day to some degree, depending on the individual.
There are three main types of ADHD: inattentive type, hyperactivity/impulsive type, or combined presentation. Well-known symptoms of ADHD break down into at least one of these types, with hyperactivity and impulsivity being especially prevalent among school-aged children. Among adults, however, symptoms vary widely. This can make it easier for ADHD to be overlooked or mistaken for anxiety, depression, or another mental condition.
Some individuals are well into adulthood before they are officially diagnosed with ADHD by a mental health professional. Many adults are relieved when they get their diagnosis because it helps confirm that they aren’t “lazy,” “unmotivated,” or “weird”; their neurobiology is simply different from their peers who don’t have this disorder.
As mental health professionals, our team at Rural Psychiatry Associates helps people from all backgrounds navigate life with ADHD. However, we understand that many adults may not be aware that daily challenges they face could be due to this treatable mental condition.
Let’s dive into six eye-opening symptoms of ADHD in adults.
6 Surprising Signs of ADHD in Adults
1. Inconsistent Focus
People with ADHD can get distracted easily, due to having an increased awareness of sensory stimuli within their environment. However, this does not mean they are never able to focus on a task. Rather, their ability to focus will vary depending on the day or task at hand. If they’re doing something that aligns with their interests, they may be able to focus for much longer – sometimes to the point where they lose track of time or become oblivious to what’s happening around them. The term for this intense state of concentration is called “hyperfocus.” However, if they are overwhelmed by or uninterested in other tasks that need to be completed, they may get easily distracted – no matter how important the task may be.
Another common sign of ADHD in adults is procrastination. Because people with ADHD struggle to manage their time wisely – sometimes despite their best efforts – they may put off important tasks until the last minute. No matter how “easy” a task may seem, it can be more challenging for people with ADHD to complete in a timely manner because they have mental hurdles that others cannot see.
3. Low Self-Esteem
We live in a society that rewards and encourages personal accomplishments. For people with ADHD, the pressure to succeed can be debilitating when they don’t know how to complete the small tasks required to make big leaps in their lives. This can culminate in a negative self-image that damages their work performance, personal relationships, and overall quality of life.
Fatigue is another common sign of ADHD in adults, which may sound surprising for a disorder associated with hyperactivity. Even if someone is not outwardly energetic, their thoughts may be going in all kinds of directions at any given moment, causing them to feel drained at the end of each day.
5. Lots of (Unfinished) Projects
Staying focused is a constant battle for people with ADHD, even for tasks they enjoy. They may be hyperfocused on one project for a while, but quickly lose interest and move on to another project that offers fresh stimulation and motivation – leaving a trail of unfinished projects in their wake. While many people experience these challenges for different reasons, a consistent pattern of this behavior may be another sign of ADHD.
6. Difficulty with Interpersonal Communication
Reading social cues is important for healthy interactions with people in our lives. However, this can be difficult for individuals with ADHD due to their inability to concentrate at times, whether it’s due to background noise or other stimuli. This can lead to frustration and make it challenging for people with ADHD to maintain healthy relationships and connection with others.
If you are struggling with any of the challenges discussed in this article, there’s a chance that you have ADHD or another disorder. As with any mental condition, the only true way to know if you have ADHD is to get an official diagnosis from a mental health professional, like one of our providers at Rural Psychiatry Associates. We offer comprehensive evaluations and can recommend testing, if needed, to diagnose what is causing your mental roadblocks – whether it’s ADHD, anxiety, depression, or another condition – and then determine the best treatment for your needs.
To get started, request an appointment with our team today.