As with all age groups, Adults affected by Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder can have different symptoms of varying degrees. They may often have problems at work and home, which can negatively impact their quality of life. At times they are dismissed as odd, unhappy, uninterested, unsocial, or too rigid, and they generally experience more problems than the general population in the areas of employment, family functioning, and social relationships. Some adults may not even realize that they have ADHD and just assume that they are low functioning in certain areas, even when others view them as very intelligent.
Attention deficits in adults attributed to ADHD include making mistakes and often missing details, both major and minor, poor organizational skills, which can lead to cluttering, loosing things, and mismanaging time, and difficulty sustaining attention to tasks that are not intriguing. It is very common for those with ADHD to read a paragraph or even a few pages and suddenly realize that they do not recall the material that they have just read or to constantly think of other things while reading. Some individuals may experience memory problems or have difficulty completing important tasks and assignments, while others may seem to work at a slower speed for no apparent reason.
The problems caused by attention deficits in adults can range from minor to major, as with all ages. With adults missing details can have a negative impact in the work environment, as well as at home; failing to fill out paperwork correctly and leaving out pertinent information, having to constantly repeat tasks that were not done correctly, constant reprimands and accusations of not caring enough, and other possible difficulties. Poor organization skills can lead to a messy and cluttered home and work environment, loosing important and needed items, and wasting countless hours searching for items and making corrections. The organizational problems can lead to many unmet promises, such as last minute cancellations and missed events. Memory deficits can lead to forgetting important tasks and events, such as birthdays, anniversaries, and paying bills. Memory problems can also impact the ability to follow up with clients, friends, or family in a timely and appropriate manner, stressing both professional and personal lives.
Adults who suffer from ADHD symptoms of impulsivity and hyperactivity can be constantly on the go, impatient, and/or experience a flooding of thoughts, including when trying to sleep. Individuals with these problems may experience difficulties waiting in line, for someone to complete a task, for someone to assist them, or for someone to finish speaking. They may also feel restless at events, at times wishing to leave before planned. ADHD symptoms in adults generally present differently than they do in children and some adolescents. This can be due to many reasons, including improvements or changes in symptoms. It was once believed that adults simply outgrew the disorder, but today we know that most of these children grew up to be adults with ADHD symptoms.
Adults and some adolescents tend to have a greater awareness of their behavior and are more able to control their responses, thereby often presenting with less severe symptoms. For example, while a child may be talkative, an adult may have learned to restrain speech even as thoughts are flooding, wishing eagerly to speak. Even though these adults do not interrupt others as children do, adults may still fail to listen thoroughly to the other speaker, as they have shifted their attention from what the speaker is saying to what they want to say.