The Crucial Signs of Adult ADHD

Most people have heard of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Oftentimes it’s used to describe hyperactive children who can’t sit still or have trouble paying attention. But ADHD can occur in adults, too. In fact, according to WebMD, about 4 to 5-percent of adults suffer from this disorder.

The problem is, it often goes undiagnosed. If ADHD goes undiagnosed, it also goes untreated. Healthline warns that untreated ADHD can cause mental and physical problems that will put a strain on relationships and create difficulties in everyday life, so it’s very important to be able to recognize the signs of ADHD in order to get the necessary treatment. Here are 11 crucial signs of adult ADHD.

Being Impulsive

One crucial sign of adult ADHD is being impulsive. This can present itself in a few ways such as rushing through tasks or interrupting someone during a normal conversation. Impulsivity can also be displayed as being socially inappropriate or not thinking about the consequences of their actions.

One’s shopping habits can also be an indicator of adult ADHD. If you or someone you know is an impulsive buyer, and particularly enjoys purchasing things they can’t afford, then this may be a crucial sign that they have adult ADHD.

Not Being Able to Focus

If you are unable to focus regularly, you may have adult ADHD. This telltale sign means you may not be able to pay attention or you’re distracted easily. You may also have a hard time listening to others during a conversation or easily overlook details.

Finally, other telltale signs of lack of focus include not being able to complete a task or a project. Although, those with adult ADHD may also experience the complete opposite of this sign, known as hyperfocus which we’ll get into next.


Some individuals with adult ADHD are unable to focus but they may also experience hyperfocus. This means the individual may experience a “deep and intense concentration,” says Healthline. They may even tune everything else out.

The individual may have difficulty concentrating on mundane tasks such as work, whereas other activities or tasks may be “completely absorbing.” Healthline also explains, “An individual with ADHD who may not be able to complete homework assignments or work projects may instead be able to focus for hours on video games, sports, or reading.”

Being Forgetful

Forgetting where you placed your keys or an upcoming appointment is completely normal and happens to everyone from time to time. However, individuals with adult ADHD, tend to forget things more often.

In some cases, this sign can be a simple nuisance while in severe cases it can be a serious problem. It can even cause complications with relationships or the workplace.

Unable to Control Emotions

ADHD can cause an individual to have difficulty controlling their emotions. For example, the individual may have angry outbursts over a minor problem.

The anger (or emotion) can also fade as quickly as it started. This can cause confusion and uncertainty in the people who were involved in the outburst.


Mastering the art of organization isn’t always easy, and for those with ADHD, it can be even more difficult.

Adults suffering from ADHD may have a difficult time with organizational skills. This means they may lose track of tasks, have difficulty prioritizing tasks, and have difficulty organizing their tasks in a logical manner.

Poor Time Management Skills

Along with having difficulty with organization skills, an adult with ADHD may also have poor time management skills. This may cause them to show up late for appointments or events, and they may also procrastinate certain tasks.

Further, ADHD may also cause the individual to completely ignore a task they consider uninteresting. Healthline also says, “They may have trouble focusing on the future or the past — the “now” is often more top-of-mind for people with ADHD.”

Lack of Motivation

One moment you may feel hyper-focused on one activity and then the next you can find yourself completely unmotivated. This is normal for adults with ADHD.

Lack of motivation combined with some of the other signs on this list such as disorganization can make it difficult to complete projects both at home and at work.

Restless and Anxious

Do you constantly feel restless? You might have adult ADHD. Healthline says, “your yearning to keep moving and doing things can lead to frustration when you can’t do something immediately.” This constant state of restlessness can then lead to frustration and anxiety, says the source.

Anxiety is also a common sign of adult ADHD. Other common indicators include shifting in your seat or finding it hard to sit still, moving around often, and tapping your hands or feet.

Negative Self Image

We are our own worst critics, right? This is normal and can be a part of healthy behavior as it helps us monitor ourselves. However, for adults with ADHD, negative self-image can be even worse.

The individual may be hypercritical of themselves which can affect many areas of their life including work, family relationships, and intimate relationships. These struggles may cause the individual to view themselves as a failure.


A busy schedule can cause anyone to feel tired but adults with ADHD may feel fatigued more often than others.

This can be caused by a number of reasons such as hyperactivity, sleep concerns, or the constant need to focus. If they’re being treated with medication it can also be a side effect of that particular drug.

Questions to Ask Yourself

There are two crucial questions to ask yourself concerning the list above that can help determine whether you have adult ADHD:

  • How frequently do you experience them?
  • And, do these symptoms impact your daily life—the major things like work, school, relationships, parenting, and finances?

According to Russell A. Barkley, Ph.D., a Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the Medical University of South Carolina, and author of the book Taking Charge of Adult ADHD, “If you check off that you do these [symptoms] ‘rarely’ or ‘occasionally’ you probably don’t have ADHD…but if it’s ‘often’ or ‘very often’, you may have [adult] ADHD.”

Diagnosing Adult ADHD

It can be normal for any adult to experience these common signs occasionally. That said, an adult with ADHD will not only experience these signs often, but they’ll typically interfere with their everyday life.

If you think you might have adult ADHD, book an appointment with your doctor. Your doctor, a psychiatrist, or a psychologist may diagnose you.

The good news is that adult ADHD is manageable and there are a variety of treatments available from cognitive behavioral therapy to lifestyle changes, and even medication. Your medical professional will be able to determine the right treatment for you.

Clarissa Vanner

Clarissa Vanner

Clarissa is the Junior Managing Editor of ActiveBeat. She aspires to live a healthy lifestyle by staying active and eating foods that nourish her body, but she isn't afraid to indulge in a little chocolate here and there! Clarissa loves cooking, being outdoors, and spending time with her dog. In her free time, you'll find her relaxing in her hammock or curled up on the couch reading a book.