How Adult ADHD Symptoms and Treatments Work

How Adult ADHD Symptoms and Treatments Work

In the last few years, ADHD (Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder) has become the most frequently diagnosed mental health issue affecting children. But ADHD doesn’t simply affect children; 30 to 50 percent of those who are diagnosed with ADHD as children continue to be affected by the disorder as adults. [1]

Despite how common ADHD is, services to help treat adult ADHD aren’t widely available. Many adults are left to handle their condition on their own — but with an understanding of what help is available, everyday life can be easier for anyone living with ADHD.

A diagnosis of ADHD can affect your life as an adult, no matter how old you are when you receive your diagnosis. And you can seek treatment to help you excel in both your work and personal life. While the symptoms of ADHD can affect every aspect of your life, there are options to help you better understand and manage life with ADHD.

What is Adult ADHD?

Adult ADHD, like ADHD that’s diagnosed in children, is a neurobiological disorder that can also be classified as a mental health condition. [2]

Previously, doctors and researchers falsely believed that children would outgrow their ADHD diagnosis as they left childhood. But now, studies have shown that this is unequivocally false. Those who grow up with ADHD are likely to continue seeing its impact throughout adulthood.

ADHD is also linked to a number of other related mental health issues like depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and substance abuse. It’s much more likely for an adult to seek treatment for their other mental health disorders rather than dealing with the symptoms of ADHD. For people who were not diagnosed with the disorder until adulthood, it could mean a lifetime of struggle with impulsive behavior, restlessness, and difficulties at work that have no apparent explanation.

There are several causes of ADHD, and despite popular opinions, sugar is not one of them. Genetics are thought to play a major role. ADHD often runs in families, and a child is four times more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD if at least one of their parents also has the disorder. It’s also believed that environmental factors, such as lead exposure, and problems with the central nervous system during development can also cause ADHD.

Signs and Symptoms

Many people struggle with the stigma of being diagnosed with ADHD because they believe that the symptoms in adults are equated to the symptoms that are common in childhood. [3] While the symptoms of this disorder are similar between childhood and adulthood, the symptoms that are common among adults are things that almost everyone has experienced at one point or another. Doctors will examine the frequency of the symptoms, and how many are actively present at one time.

Here are a few of the most common symptoms and behaviors present in adults with ADHD:

  • Impulsiveness
  • Disorganization
  • Problems prioritizing tasks
  • Issues with time management
  • Difficulty focusing on tasks
  • Struggling to multitask
  • Restlessness
  • Getting frustrated easily
  • Mood swings

It’s easy to dismiss the signs of ADHD in adults as nothing more than everyday difficulties and challenges. However, there’s a central issue at the heart of these symptoms: adults living with ADHD typically find it hard to focus, and they can struggle with managing and completing tasks both at work and at home. If you’re finding yourself frustrated and struggling to focus on different responsibilities, you may be exhibiting the signs of ADHD.

Treatment Options

If you’re diagnosed with ADHD as an adult or were diagnosed with ADHD as a child and have not sought treatment for it as an adult, it’s important to seek updated information on your disorder. There are tons of treatment options available, depending on your individual symptoms and preferences.

If you’re worried that you present some of the symptoms of ADHD, your doctor can do a physical exam, take your medical history, and give you a quick screening test to confirm or rule out the disorder. You can also visit specialists who are well versed in ADHD and adults, who will offer different tests that can offer a diagnosis.

Once you’ve been diagnosed with ADHD, there are plenty of treatment and management options you can try. Treatment of adults with ADHD typically involves education, psychological counseling, and medication. [4] A therapist trained in ADHD and related disorders will be able to help educate you about your condition, and help you develop strategies to improve communication, decision-making, and problem-solving skills. Psychological counseling will also help you talk through your concerns on a regular basis and ensure that you develop the skills necessary to manage any related mental health issues that may arise.

There are a number of different medications that have been shown to help adults with ADHD on a regular basis. Stimulants, which boost and balance the neurotransmitters in our brain, are common. Focalin, Adderall, and Concerta are three of the most common stimulants used to help ADHD patients increase their attention span and control impulsive behavior.

If you’re new to the world of ADHD, there are plenty of support groups that can help you learn more about your diagnosis and which treatments are right for you.


  1. Ginsberg, Ylva, et al. “Underdiagnosis of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder in Adult Patients.” The Primary Care Companion For CNS Disorders, vol. 16, no. 3, 12 June 2014, doi:10.4088/pcc.13r01600.
  2. WebMD Staff. “What Is Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder?” WebMD, WebMD LLC, 2018,
  3. Mayo Clinic Staff. “Adult Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 15 Aug. 2017,
  4. Mayo Clinic Staff. “Adult Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 15 Aug. 2017,