To mark the end of Neurodiversity Celebration Week, I thought it would be good to answer some commonly answered questions about ADHD symptoms for adults. These are a lot of the questions I began to Google when I realised I might have ADHD.
This might not answer every question you have, but hopefully, it’s a good place to start…
Your Questions, Answered
When do ADHD symptoms start?
ADHD is a neurological disorder which means that symptoms are with you since childhood. There are still a lot of assumptions regarding symptoms, mainly that children can grow out of ADHD. They don’t, but with age comes maturity and also an ability to use coping strategies and masking skills, whether knowingly or not. Also that adults can develop ADHD later in life. It is believed that a traumatic brain injury (TMI) can possibly cause late-onset neurological differences.
what are ADHD symptoms in adults?
Symptoms in adults can be much harder to define. Years of masking and developing coping skills have meant that symptoms are less obvious in adulthood. As always there are three presentations:
However, as a general rule symptoms in adults generally look like this:
- carelessness and lack of attention to detail
- continually starting new tasks before finishing old ones
- poor organisational skills
- continually losing or misplacing things
- restlessness and edginess, a racing mind
- difficulty keeping quiet, and speaking out of turn
- blurting out responses and often interrupting others
- mood swings, irritability and a quick temper
- inability to deal with stress
- extreme impatience
- taking risks in activities, often with little or no regard for personal safety or the safety of others – for example, driving dangerously
NB: A lot of women with ADHD can also suffer from Perfectionism, from years of overcompensating. I for example used to pack at least two weeks before travelling anywhere, be overly early for appointments and have a super organised desk at work.
What triggers ADHD symptoms in adults?
While ADHD symptoms are present from childhood, there are several factors that can exacerbate symptoms throughout life, especially in women. Hormones are a huge factor in making symptoms ‘worse’ or reducing our ability to cope daily. So puberty (for boys and girls), childbirth, perimenopause, and medical menopause are all episodes in our life where we may notice a difference in symptoms.
Stress and anxiety can also cause our symptoms to overwhelm us at times too. Not great when a lot of the time we are stressed from the constant overwhelm we feel; and anxiety is one of the most co-occurring conditions alongside ADHD.
Where to go for ADHD diagnosis?
So there are several avenues adults can take for diagnosis.
Self Referral / Private
- Pro – Much quicker than NHS waiting lists – weeks/months rather than years.
- Con – Expensive – up to £2,000
GP / NHS
- Pro – Inexpensive – F.O.C
- Con – Extremely long waiting times – anything from 6 months to 5 years!
- Pro – No long forms to fill out, or assessments to go through.
- Con – Cannot access financial assistance and may struggle to access accommodations at work/further education without a formal diagnosis.
I have been referred by my GP, read my diagnosis journey here. Referred over a year ago and I haven’t had any communication as of yet in regard to an initial appointment.
The government have promised to look at referral times for adults and reduce the postcode lottery of waiting lists. Forgive me for being a little sceptical about this!
Are there ADHD symptoms in adults’ checklist
There are actually lots of screeners out there but it is advisable to use one by a reputable charity or organisation, especially if you want to use it to take it to your GP for possible referral. Here are a couple:
- Adult ADHD Screening Survey – ADHD UK
- Adult ADHD Self-Report Scale (ASRS-v1.1) Questionnaire – ADDA – Attention Deficit Disorder Association
- ADHD Test: Adult Symptom Assessment, Scientific Results – (additudemag.com)
How to help ADHD symptoms in adults
If you are late diagnosed then after diagnosis the doctor may discuss medication with you. I won’t try and discuss this as I have no lived knowledge of it. Here is the most up-to-date NHS information regarding medication.
Alongside or instead of medication (no judgement here, your choice) then supplements/natural remedies are a great option. Ashwagandha, Omega-3, L-Tyrosine, Magnesium, Zinc and Rhodiola are all suggested natural options. Please discuss anything with your GP to ensure there are no contraindications with any medications or health issues you may already have.
My page ‘Things I love‘ lists all things that myself and my children use personally to help with our ADHD. These are not affiliate or gifted products, but products that we actually use every day.
I hope this has helped a little if you have been wondering about symptoms in yourself or someone you love. If you have any further questions then pop them in the comments below and I’ll do my best to answer or point you in the right direction.
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