The Answers You Need
Adult Attention Deficit / Hyperactivity disorder is a clinical disorder that can interfere with your life and seriously impair your ability to live your best life. The only way to determine if you have ADHD is to complete a professional evaluation. Below is a brief overview of adult ADHD and a four step plan to help you measure and manage your symptoms.
Step One: What are your symptoms?
Do you have trouble concentrating?
Are you easily distracted?
Are you highly impulsive?
Is it hard for you to get or stay organised?
Do you always have to be busy doing lots of different things - but you rarely finish what you started?
Do other people say you talk too much?
Do you have trouble listening closely to others?
Do you interrupt others when they are talking or doing something?
Do you talk over other people?
Is it hard to get your point across?
Do you often feel restless?
Do you often forget things that need to get done?
A professional evaluation is the only way to know for sure if you have ADHD, but the more questions you answered yes to, the more likely it is that you have the disorder. Based on this symptom list, you now have a baseline for determining if an evaluation is right for you.
Step Two: How long have you had these symptoms?
Think back on your life and try to imagine a time when it was easy to concentrate or focus on one task. Some people begin to develop symptoms of ADHD in childhood, while others don't notice the disorder until they are adults. Ironically, the very symptoms of ADHD such as forgetfulness and difficulty concentrating can make it hard to obtain an accurate history without a professional evaluation.
Going undiagnosed as a child doesn't mean you don't have ADHD. Similarly, if you were diagnosed but not treated with effective therapy and prescription medications, your symptoms may still be affecting your quality of life and level of functioning. If your symptoms are sudden and short-term, that usually rules out a diagnosis of ADHD, although there may be more to the story than just the symptoms listed above. Also, having less severe problems as an adult than you did as a child might mean you have learned to manage you symptoms, in which case your symptoms may be in remission or you might no longer meet the diagnostic criteria for ADHD.
Step Three: How do your symptoms affect your life?
So many of the symptoms of ADHD are a regular part of life as an adult. Who doesn't get distracted at work by the latest funny meme on Facebook? We all know someone who is highly disorganised, but somehow they are able to turn all their assignments on time. Nearly everyone has periods of impulsive behavior as a young adult, it's a completely expected and developmentally appropriate part of growing up.
Does the person distracted by funny Facebook posts have ADHD? How about the disorganised but effective person? Is every impulsive adult dealing with ADHD? The answer to these questions depends on how much the symptoms affect your daily functioning and quality of life.
Below is a list of common adolescent and adult functional impairments; if you are experiencing these or other difficulties, a professional evaluation can help decide how to help restore your quality of life.
Typical adolescent and adult functional impairments:
Frequently changing jobs or career fields
Poor performance at work or school as rated by others and when compared to your peers
Risky behavior or acting impulsively in high-risk situations, including impulsive sexual behavior
Unsafe driving, speeding, or frequent traffic accidents
Impulsive spending, difficulty managing your money, excessive use of credit cards
Relationship problems including difficulty remembering dates or anniversaries, difficulty focusing on your partner, and frequent arguments about the behaviours listed above
Lying, stealing, and otherwise irresponsible behavior
Unhealthy lifestyle choices including infrequent exercise, sedentary hobbies or activities, and excessive eating
Step Four: Take Action
If your symptoms from step one are severe (you checked some or most of the symptoms from the list), and your symptoms have lasted for six or more months, and if your quality of life is affected by your ADHD symptoms, your next step is to schedule a professional evaluation.