How to explain Adult ADHD

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How to explain adult ADHD

Do you think you have ADHD or do you know someone who has been diagnosed with adult ADHD?


Are you wondering if you, a friend or loved one is showing symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)? If so, you’re in the right place.

Some of the symptoms of ADHD include inattentiveness, hyperactivity, impulsiveness, anxiety and sleep problems. ADHD sufferers are prone to addiction too, with many suffering from substance abuse, overeating and gambling.

Historically, there is a massive lack of understanding of ADHD, the symptoms of ADHD in adults, as well as girls with ADHD. ADHD isn’t just for boys and it isn’t a behavioural issue.

The number of adults being diagnosed with ADHD is on the rise, with lengthy NHS waiting lists in the UK and many men and women going undiagnosed or misdiagnosed. In the US, ADHD diagnoses are growing four times faster than the rate of children being diagnosed. 

While healthcare costs in the US make treatment unattainable for those not able to afford it, ADHD sufferers in the UK haven’t had it easy either, despite having free healthcare.

Back in 1990 just 40 UK children were treated with medication for ADHD. This means many adults have never been treated or managed properly. ADHD wasn’t even recognised as a valid condition in the UK until 2000, and even then it wasn’t officially recognised as an adult condition until 2008!

Adults with ADHD are three times more likely to develop major depressive disorder, six times more likely to develop dysthymia, and approximately four times more likely to have any mood disorder than adults without ADHD – Source: ADDitude Magazine, ADHD Statistics

As an adult, ADHD can play havoc with your life. Adults with ADHD can struggle with everything from work and careers, relationships, money, and social life. 

The BBC recently published a short video story, Living with ADHD: ‘I have the brain of Einstein and the attention span of a toddler’, showing a personal insight into the struggles of living with ADHD.

Contrary to the myth that adult ADHD is not a serious condition and that if someone tried hard enough, they could overcome the condition on their own, ADHD is a neurological disorder and a very disruptive condition that affects every area of life of the person who suffers as well as their families.

Adult ADHD and careers

Because some of the main issues associated with ADHD are inattention, poor time management, and disorganisation, the person’s work life and career will suffer. Some of the problems that occur among adults with ADHD that affect their careers include:

  • Repeatedly being late for work
  • Failing to meet deadlines
  • Missing meetings
  • Not being able to organise tasks
  • Spending a lot of time at work, but not getting much completed
  • Easily getting distracted by other things happening around them
  • Difficulty paying attention when important information is being discussed

Relationships and ADHD

Obviously, relationships will suffer as well due to the symptoms of this condition. Since life can be seemingly chaotic when around someone with ADHD, it can put strains on relationships. 

There may be resentment when one partner feels they are always doing the organising, cleaning, planning and other responsibilities, while in turn the person suffering with ADHD may end up feeling that the other person is constantly nagging them to do things. Having a partner willing to understand and learn about ADHD is a must to make a relationship last. 

ADHD and finances

Good money management skills are difficult for people with ADHD.

Adults with ADHD struggle with money management too. Disorganisation, procrastination, and impulsiveness all lead to making poor decisions around finances. Some of the problems this can cause are:

  • Forgetting to pay bills (often leading to fines and extra charges)
  • Large overdrafts and credit card balances
  • Impulsive spending
  • Inability to focus on record keeping

Living with Adult ADHD

ADHD can cause all areas of their life to suffer, including general everyday interactions with others. Their ability to function socially will usually be difficult too, while friends, colleagues, and peers will find it difficult to understand the disorganisation and constant lateness. Some people get annoyed with them or put lateness down to rudeness or bad punctuality. Sadly, there is still a stigma around ADHD, with many people believing that those suffering with adult ADHD are just trying to find excuses for their problems. 

Hidden disabilities are exactly that, hidden. But with treatment on the rise and access to support networks made more accessible with the internet and Facebook Groups, people are learning more about ADHD all the time, leading to more adults seeking diagnosis and treatment. 

If you have ADHD and you’re struggling at work with lateness, explain things to your manager or HR department. They should be able to make adjustments to help you in your role, even if that means giving you a flexible window to start work so that if you do run late, you’re not actually late and it won’t cause an issue. 

If you’re overwhelmed by large projects and tasks, try to break them down into smaller chunks that seem more manageable and easier to tackle.

And most importantly, if you’re an adult with ADHD and need some help, talk to people. Tell your partner or a close friend if you can. Find support groups on Facebook and speak to other adults with ADHD and you’ll be amazed just reading about some of the things other ADHD adults struggle with that you had no idea could be affected by ADHD. 

If you want to find out more about the symptoms of Adult ADHD as well as treatment and management, WebMD has a detailed Adult ADHD article


MayoClinic: Adult ADHD


BBC: ADHD diagnosis for adults ‘can take seven years’


HelpGuide: Adult ADD/ADHD


NPR: A Focus on Adults: Living with Chronic ADHD


Clinical Psychology Associates: Understanding and Coping with Adult ADHD


Attention Deficit Disorder Association: Six Secrets to a Happy ADHD Relationship https://add.org/six-secrets-to-a-happy-adhd-relationship/ 

American Psychological Association: Undiagnosed ADHD Affects Millions of Adults – and Their Romantic Relationships



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