Recognizing ADD/ADHD in Adults (Part 2)

We are continuing with our look at Adult ADD/ADHD. You may recall that with last week’s article I began to focus on some of the ways in which the condition can be recognized in adults.  I focused on four possible signs that someone might have the condition. They are: 1) A history of childhood ADD/ADHD 2) Difficulty concentrating and lack of focus 3) Forgetfulness and disorganization 4) Hyper focus. With this week’s article I would like to continue along these lines by focusing on some other signs that you should be on the lookout for. I would like to emphasize once again that the presence of any (or even all!) of these signs does not mean that ADD/ADHD is definitely present. It just means that you might need to seriously consider the possibility.
Sign 5: Impulsivity. This is perhaps one of the signs of ADD/ADHD that adults with the condition find the most troublesome. Adults with ADD/ADHD often struggle to control their behavior and responses. This means that they will often speak out of turn and when they do they will make comments that might not be entirely appropriate. Many an adult with ADD/ADHD have deeply regretted comments that were blurted out without properly thinking them through. Impulsivity also shows up in hasty decision-making without necessarily weighing all the alternatives or consequences. All of these factors mean that impulsive adults have trouble to react in socially appropriate ways and have a reputation for recklessness. While this may make them exciting people to be with, it can also translate into serious problems in the work environment. In fact, most adults with ADD/ADHD who struggle to hold down a job would identify their impulsivity as one of the major factors in their lack of career stability.
Sign 6: Hyperactivity. Adults with ADD/ADHD often feel like they are always on the run, as if they are being driven by some kind of hidden engine. Such people find it very difficult to sit still and will constantly be on the move. They talk excitedly in excessively and have a reputation for trying to do several things at the same time. In many cases, however, the symptoms may be a bit more subtle, especially as some people do manage to control the worst aspects of their hyperactivity. In such cases the hyperactivity will take the form of inner restlessness and agitation as well as their minds racing at 100 miles an hour. It should be noted that although hyperactivity is present in very many adult ADD/ADHD cases that it is not an indispensable part of an ADD/ADHD diagnosis. It is clear that some people do have the condition without displaying some of the classic hyperactive behaviors described above.
Sign 7: Lack of emotional control. Whereas it is often the case that childhood ADD/ADHD is easily observable through disruptive behavior or other patterns arising from inattention, the same is not always true of adult ADD/ADHD. It can very often be a hidden condition due to the fact that some symptoms will surface primarily on an emotional level. Many adults with ADD/ADHD find it very hard to manage their feelings, especially when it comes to dealing with emotions like anger and frustration. This can translate into a very short fuse and regular angry outbursts. Other emotional effects that are commonly reported are feelings of restlessness and agitation (many people report that they can never truly feel ‘at peace’ with themselves), a nagging sense of underachievement, radical mood swings, hypersensitivity to criticism, low self-esteem and feelings of inadequacy. Emotional problems such as these can obviously also be caused by a variety of other circumstances and conditions it is, however, important to also explore the possibility of ADD/ADHD if you recognize yourself in any of the descriptions above.
Stating some of the signs of ADD/ADHD like this does not convey the very negative consequences that it can have on the life of an adult if it is not recognized and addressed. The fact is that adult ADD/ADHD is serious. It should never be seen as simply a minor ‘holdover’ from childhood but should be dealt with in the best way possible. People who do not have the condition sometimes find it difficult to appreciate this fact, even going so far as seeing adult ADD/ADHD as an excuse for laziness or disorganization. The best way to address this misperception is to focus on the very real consequences and effects of the condition on real human beings. It is to this aspect of the condition that we shall shift our focus with next week’s article. See you then!