A Brief Look at Adult ADHD
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a mental health condition characterized by hyperactivity, trouble maintaining attention, and impulsive behavior. When you think of ADHD you imagine a restless, high-strung child who is probably having a tough time adjusting at home or school. But, ADHD can also affect adults, and while the symptoms of adult ADHD may be less subdued, they pose a greater risk of self-harm as a result of how they manifest in them, as discussed below.
One thing to note that if you were diagnosed with the condition in your childhood, there’s a chance that you may have carried some of the symptoms into adulthood. Even if you didn’t have ADHD as a child, you can still be affected by it in adulthood.
It is not difficult to understand why ADHD symptoms are more telling and evident in children. They have fewer social constraints governing their behavior, and hence display symptoms openly. Mature and socially conditioned adults have more self-control over their behaviors, and will hence not act out in the same manner as kids. The symptoms are not completely absent, however, and may be observed in such actions as tapping of feet, playing with a pencil, fidgeting, having trouble sitting for an extended period of time, or doodling.
Beyond these seemingly harmless actions, adult ADHD patients experience inner restlessness that they often channel into risky and reckless behaviors. These include alcohol, drug abuse, abusing the law and other socially unacceptable behaviors.
On the social front, adult ADHD may cause mood swings and difficulty making or holding on to friends. Relationships can also suffer, which is evident in the twice as higher divorce in marriages where one partner has ADHD.
Individuals with adult ADHD also have trouble organizing their work or household responsibilities. It is not surprising then that they change jobs or job-hop very frequently, or have multiple periods of unemployment over the course of their career. Poor decision-making at the workplace – such as giving up on projects midway or asking for change of projects very often – can also affect professional development and career success in the long run. At home, this disorganization often manifests into poor money or saving skills and/or impulsive spending, which can cause arguments between spouses/partners.
This is not to say that adult ADHD patients are marked for professional or personal failure. Those who are intensely interested in and suited to a particular project may complete it proficiently. Patience and compromise by the spouse can also help in managing the household duties with little friction.
It is important that adult ADHD is diagnosed in a timely and accurate manner. Besides looking for a long history of problems with self-control and attention, doctors may also interview family members to diagnose the condition.