Symptoms of ADD and ADHD in Adults

“You’re so ADD.”

It’s a seemingly harmless phrase often used to describe a person who can’t sit still or who can’t focus on one idea for more than a few minutes at a time. The problem? It’s not so harmless.

While both of these symptoms are hallmarks of adult ADD and ADHD, only a doctor can officially diagnose a disorder like this. An unfortunate consequence of labeling temporary bouts of inattentiveness or restlessness as ADD/ADHD is that we start to become desensitized to just how disruptive this disorder can be to the lives of people who truly have it.

A woman sits at her desk struggling to concentrate on her work.

Everyone experiences difficulty concentrating from time to time, but for people with ADD/ADHD, the symptoms are more severe and persistent.

If you’ve ever found yourself wondering: “Do I have ADD?” this post is for you. First, we’ll explain the difference between ADD and ADHD, and then we’ll give you some common warning signs to look for. Let’s get started.

What is the Difference Between ADHD and ADD?

Although many people tend to use these terms interchangeably, the difference between the two is notable. It’s also important to consider that certain individuals my fall somewhere in between the two extremes, exhibiting symptoms of both ADD & ADHD.

What is ADHD?

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a common psychological disorder characterized by problems with attention, impulsivity and/or hyperactivity.

What is ADD?

Attention deficit disorder (ADD) is a subtype of ADHD in which the individual shows significant problems with attention, but exhibits few or no symptoms of hyperactivity.

How to Tell if You Have Adult ADD/ADHD

The American Psychiatric Association lists nine symptoms associated with ADD and ADHD. Before we show them to you, keep in mind that most everyone experiences these symptoms from time to time. However, people with ADD/ADHD typically experience six or more of these symptoms to such an extent that they cause considerable problems in their daily lives.

Pause to reflect on that last sentence for a few moments. In other words, even if you exhibit a variety of the symptoms below, they need to be so persistent or severe that they negatively impact your personal or professional life.

Symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder in Adults

  1. You constantly fidget, tapping your hands and feet or squirming in your seat.
  2. You are not able to stay seated (in the classroom or workplace).
  3. You remain physically active when it’s not appropriate.
  4. You can’t engage in leisure activities quietly.
  5. You seem to be always “on the go,” as if driven by a motor.
  6. You talk excessively.
  7. You blurt out an answer before a question has been finished (you may finish people’s sentences, or find it difficult to wait your turn to speak).
  8. You have difficulty waiting in line.
  9. You commonly interrupt or intrude on others (cutting into conversations, games or activities, or using other people’s things without permission). Older teens and adults may take over what others are doing.

Symptoms of Attention Deficit Disorder in Adults

  1. You don’t pay close attention to details or you make careless mistakes in school or job tasks.
  2. You have problems staying focused on tasks or activities, such as during lectures, conversations or long reading.
  3. You don’t seem to listen when spoken to (i.e., you seem to be elsewhere).
  4. You don’t follow through on instructions or complete schoolwork, chores or job duties (you may start tasks but quickly lose focus).
  5. You have problems organizing tasks and work (for instance, you don’t manage time well; have messy work or miss deadlines).
  6. You avoid or dislike tasks that require sustained mental effort, such as preparing reports and completing forms.
  7. You often lose things needed for tasks or daily life, such as school papers, books, keys, wallet, cell phone and eyeglasses.
  8. You are easily distracted.
  9. You forget daily tasks, such as doing chores and running errands. Older teens and adults may forget to return phone calls, pay bills and keep appointments.

What to Do Next

Remember, only a doctor can officially diagnose you with ADD or ADHD. But, if you can relate to the symptoms outlined here, it might be a good idea to discuss this with your primary care physician. There are many effective treatment options for adult ADD/ADHD, ranging from weekly therapy sessions and medications to intensive outpatient and residential programs. Learn more about adult ADD/ADHD treatment programs at Growth Extended, or call our friendly admissions team for a free evaluation.

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