The very phrase ‘adult ADHD symptoms’ might be enough to make someone shiver. Who wants to go down a road that might end up in a diagnosis, the pursuit of which could lead to some letters added to a medical file somewhere? Life’s problems are rarely about shoving uncomfortable realities out of sight, however. By looking the possibility of having ADHD in the face, an individual will be taking the first steps to finding a solution to the difficulties adult ADHD symptoms present. It is important to recognize that while adult ADHD symptoms are quite common and characteristic across the board in terms of hyperactivity, inability to focus, impulsivity, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders (DMS-IV-TR) recognizes that there are three distinct categories of ADHD. Therefore, it is important to become familiar with each of the three in order to determine which category the specific adult ADHD symptoms an individual is manifesting best falls into.
ADHD, Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive Type: Hyperactive adults have incredible difficulty waiting, especially for desired outcomes or activities. They seem to be constantly “on-the-go” and working on this thing, that thing or doing a myriad projects all at once. Sitting still is extremely difficult, especially if the individual is not enjoying whatever it is they have to sit and listen to. Adults with ADHD predominantly hyperactive-impulsive type appear to be always restless and unsatisfied with their current activity. They always want to move onto the “next thing” and lack a sense of contentment or mindfulness.
ADHD, Predominantly Inattentive Type: Individuals with ADHD, predominantly inattentive type will have adult ADHD symptoms that would best be described as having their “head in the clouds” or “out of touch with reality.” Individuals with the predominantly inattentive type are consistently accused of not listening very well, losing focus, becoming easily distracted and just “going off into dreamland.” They will often appear ‘spacey’, unfocused, not present or disinterested. Disorganization and clutter are consistently the norm for individuals with the predominantly inattentive type of ADHD.
ADHD, Combined Type: As the name would suggest, individuals with ADHD combined type manifest adult ADHD symptoms from both of the categories, a mixture of hyperactive-impulsive and inattentiveness all at once.So, what’s it really like living with these symptoms, regardless of which of the three types it is that is being manifested? Here are a couple of examples.In talking with adults with ADHD predominantly inattentive type, it was very telling to hear some of their expressions. They explain that living with this type of ADHD is “like you’re constantly trying to sort through a brain that feels like it’s under water, or has a really bad cold. It’s that ‘filled full of cotton balls’ feeling. The kind where you just can’t THINK!” They get bored talking to most people, regardless of how much they like them. Connecting with people is extremely difficult because most times it’s hard for them to find something to talk about that won’t bore them to tears within five minutes. They get worn out really easily because they’re constantly trying to motivate their brain to function. They also add that regardless of how many cups of coffee or other stimulants they drink in a given morning they are still likely to forget ‘that important appointment’ because their mind was busy being distracted by something far less necessary but much more interesting.On the flip side, individuals experiencing the adult ADHD symptoms of hyperactivity-impulsivity describe completely different and unique challenges. One of them says that he is “constantly searching for the next thing”, but even when he finds it, his mind is neither content nor relaxed or happy…but already thinking about what’s next. Sitting still for these individuals is a chore, having to wait nearly impossible. Conversations with people are difficult because their minds tend to be thinking about three or four things at once, and it’s hard to keep them all sorted enough to have a coherent conversation, without looking like they are not interested in what others have to say. Deadlines and appointments are difficult to remember and harder to keep. They are easily distracted, they will say things they don’t mean, and do things you didn’t want to because they just ‘felt like’ it at the moment and will never feel quite satisfied, but consistently restless.Clearly, living with ADHD as an adult can present some significant challenges. Thankfully, with proper treatment tailored to adults, living with adult ADHD symptoms can become possible and manageable, regardless of which type of ADHD somebody is manifesting. Many times, it is possible to manage ADHD with behavioral therapy alone, not resorting to using medication that brings with it various side effects. In closing, please make sure to consult a medical professional for a proper diagnosis before making any decisions regarding which type of treatment you choose to pursue.