ADHD symptoms in adults

ADHD Symptoms in Adults

ADHD is characterised by inattention and/ or problems with impulsivity and hyperactivity.  ADHD affects an individual’s ability to access and store information, regulate their behaviour and adapt effectively to their environment.  For some, this can lead to significant impairment in academic, occupational and relationship functioning.

Researchers believe that the reasons for these difficulties are neurocognitive differences in people with ADHD (the brain fires up differently).  ADHD is associated with a range of cognitive difficulties that include difficulties with executive functioning (Barkley, 2003). The executive functioning system is the self-regulation centre of the brain.  When this system works differently in ADHD, it means that it can be difficult to be aware of the potential consequences of our behaviour, while making rewards extra rewarding.  For example, resisting a piece of cake or cigarette is especially difficult if your brain dulls your awareness of the health consequences, while increasing the reward centre of your brain (all you can think of is how good it will feel, taste, etc.).

These neurocognitive differences also make other self-regulation behaviours more difficult, such as staying on task and avoiding procrastination, planning our behaviour, and working out how long things will take to do (like getting ready on the morning or driving to an appointment).  These difficulties can all make daily living very difficult, especially when trying to fulfil academic or work tasks.

Because growing up ADHD symptoms can make life a lot harder, adults with ADHD tend to have much higher rates of, depression, anxiety and substance use problems, in addition to learning problems (Biederman et al, 2004).