An estimated 4% of adults in the United States — or 8 million people — are formally diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, also known as ADHD, in any given year.
“There is a common belief that ADHD only affects children, but ongoing research has proven otherwise,” says Sussan Nwogwugwu, a certified mental health nurse at the digital health company. Finishedtold HuffPost. “As such, a large percentage of adults have presented with undiagnosed ADHD in recent years.”
However, ADHD persists significantly underdiagnosed in adultsspecial among women. Common Symptoms of ADHD in Adults include disorganization, forgetfulness, difficulty with emotional regulation, poor time management skills, restlessness, and difficulty multitasking. When left untreated, symptoms can be associated with ADHD detrimental to both a person’s physical and mental well-being.
Experts spoke to HuffPost about a few habits that may be surreptitiously a result of ADHD.
You repeatedly lose things.
If you find yourself regularly searching for important items without knowing why it always happens, it could be a red flag. Something else is going on.
“Someone with ADHD may have consistent problems remembering important details, such as where their keys are, while people who are more neurotypical may only occasionally forget where their keys are,” explained. Krista Karvin, a registered social worker based in Ontario, Canada.
You neglect other activities or your needs when you are focused on a task.
According to Catherine del Toro, a provider partner for Grow Therapy, “A common symptom of hyperactivity is being easily distracted by one extreme or hyperfocused by the other. Because of this, it can become a habit to be so fully engaged in a task that we may neglect other equally important things.”
As a common example, del Toro noted that this could look like someone who writes in such a way that they might forget to eat and sit for hours.
You may also struggle with forgetfulness and leaving tasks unfinished.
While people with ADHD tend to become fixated on one task, they may also routinely forget to finish tasks before moving on to the next.
“Maybe you start doing the dishes, notice something spilled on the floor, and start cleaning the floor. Then, as you wipe, notice that there are fingerprints on the glass door and start cleaning that instead,” del Toro said.
Hannah Rae, a graduate student and case manager for homeless services, told HuffPost that she used to forget about events and tasks long before she was formally diagnosed with ADHD as an adult. “I am forgetful about most things in my life. I have to write everything down,” she said.
You tend to avoid certain activities on some days, while actively seeking constant activity on others.
Switches regularly feeling overstimulated or understimulated your environment can be a sign that you have ADHD.
“Some days, for example, you feel like it’s fine to go to the grocery store and it doesn’t bother you at all,” Carvin said. “On other days, especially when you’re overstimulated, you may find that the sights, smells, or sounds at the grocery store really bother you, which could mean that following your shopping list or waiting in line is too much for you to handle. be able to.” .”
According to Carvin, understimulation can make a person with ADHD feel both lethargic and restless, yet unsure of what they should do to feel better.
You have a habit of having trouble connecting with partners in your relationship.
a person with ADHD may notice that certain habits – which are actually symptoms – affect their dating life or interpersonal relationships. For example, Carvin explained that people with ADHD may find it difficult to give their partner attention or help with chores around the house, which can lead to conflict and hurt feelings.
“’ADHDers’ can be sensitive to rejection. When faced with harsh feedback from their partners, they may react in ways that are disproportionate to the current situation,” she said.
You are being treated for a mood disorder but still experience symptoms and habits associated with ADHD.
An estimated 57% to 92% of adults with ADHD also have at least one co-occurring mental health disorder or other neurodivergent experience, with some studies indicating that this number can be as high as 80%.
“Undiagnosed adults may have tried psychotherapy or medications, but treatments that don’t target ADHD may not have led to the gains needed to live better lives,” Carvin said.
Hannah explained that although she was being treated for generalized anxiety disorder, the symptoms such as difficulty focusing and forgetfulness persisted.
“I knew that not all of these symptoms could be related to this anxiety disorder,” she said. “I was already being treated for a neurological disorder and coincidentally was being screened for ADHD. I met the criteria.”
Note: Experiencing these symptoms does not necessarily mean you have ADHD.
Not everyone who is forgetful or has trouble multitasking lives with ADHD. People who are neurotypical may develop habits such as forgetting things or hyperfocusing on tasks. However, experiencing emotional stress can be clinically significant and key to determining whether you should seek medical attention.
“With an influx of this kind of information on social media, it’s really valuable to listen to the perspectives of people with lived experience, and balance that with fact-based information as well,” explains Carvin.
Find healthcare and resources.
Nwogwugwu explained that “evaluation is key” when it comes to undiagnosed ADHD in adults, adding that “it’s never too late to treatment for ADHD at the diagnosis.”
Seeing a healthcare provider can help someone receive a formal diagnosis and treatment, as well as accommodations at work or school. For Hannah, finding the right combination of medication and therapy was key to managing ADHD.
However, it’s important to note that factors such as stigma, a lack of health insurance, costs of medical care, and general misinformation can deter a person from getting treatment for ADHD. If you do not have access to health care, free resources such as support groups, workbooks, and expert-led podcasts can be informative, validating, and beneficial.
Ultimately, experts say it’s important to recognize and take action if you think your habits are affecting your health or everyday life.
As Nwogwugwu noted, “Being diagnosed with ADHD can be a relief and a life-changing moment for adults, as it explains the struggles and problems a person has faced throughout their life.”