4 Ways ADHD Symptoms Differ in Adults Than Children

4 Ways ADHD Symptoms Differ in Adults Than Children

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) isn’t just for kids. ADHD is a neurodevelopmental condition that affects brain structure and function during early development.

People with ADHD have areas of the brain that are slower to mature or less active than what you might see in a neurotypical brain (normal brain development). The structure and function of the brain may change over time, which is why some kids with ADHD seem to get “better” as they mature.

Because of the changes in the maturing brain, ADHD symptoms in adults often differ from those seen in children.

At Revîv Functional Psychiatry & TMS Wellness Center in Fullerton, California, our expert psychiatrist Dr. Hina Sidhu specializes in diagnosing and treating adult ADHD.

Here, we want to share some of the ways ADHD symptoms differ in adults compared to children.

1. Always on the go

Hyperactivity is one of the most recognized symptoms of ADHD in kids. They struggle to sit in their seats at school, are always fidgeting, and have difficulties playing quietly. 

Symptoms of hyperactivity in adults with ADHD are a little different. Adults with ADHD may feel restless and have a difficult time relaxing and feel the need to always be on the go. They jump from one activity to the next because they fear they might lose momentum if they stop. 

2. Difficulty following directions

Inattention is another symptom of ADHD that makes it especially difficult to pay attention and focus. Children with ADHD may struggle to finish school work on time or make careless mistakes.

Symptoms of inattention in adults with ADHD are similar, affecting focus and concentration. However, instead of schoolwork, inattention may affect their personal or professional life. 

Adults with ADHD may make careless mistakes when filling out forms. They may also have difficulty completing work tasks promptly because they get distracted. 

3. Constantly misplacing items

Children with ADHD struggle to stay organized. They forget to write down their homework assignments or can’t remember where they left their math book.

The same is true for adults with ADHD, but they may misplace essential items like their wallets or keys. Adults with ADHD may also lose track of bills and forget to pay them or misplace documents like their birth certificates or passports. 

4. Lose track of time

Many adults with ADHD lose track of time. They tend to hyperfocus on a single activity, not realizing how much time has passed until they look at the clock and see they’re running late for an appointment.

Researchers theorize that people with ADHD see time as a collection of events rather than a sequence. That is why people with ADHD procrastinate, miss deadlines, do things in the wrong order, or underestimate the time it takes to complete a task.

Inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity are the core symptoms of ADHD. But you don’t have to have all of the symptoms for an ADHD diagnosis, and symptoms can change over time. Without a proper diagnosis and treatment, ADHD in adults may lead to other challenges like depression, anxiety, or substance abuse.

Making a mistake or being late for an appointment on occasion is normal. But when mistakes and lateness happen so frequently they negatively affect your professional and personal life, you might have ADHD. 

We can help you find the source of your difficulties and develop a comprehensive treatment plan. Call our office or book an appointment online today. We also offer telemedicine appointments.

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