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What Adult ADHD Symptoms Do People Typically Overlook?

Research shows that nearly 10% of children in the US have been diagnosed with ADHD, the neurodevelopmental disorder associated with attention difficulties, diminished impulse control, and hyperactivity.

While most people only examine the symptoms in children, many struggling adults may not recognize their condition. At the same time, undiagnosed ADHD can lead to problems with low self-esteem, poor work performance, and relationship problems.

Let's get into what you need to know about ADHD symptoms in adults.

Organization Problems

You keep paying your bills late. You procrastinate on calling that repair technician. You have thousands of unread emails- some of which are probably very important.

It's not that you're just forgetful- you feel overwhelmed and frustrated by all the tasks associated with "adulting." Indeed, ADHD can impact the part of the brain responsible for organizing and listing data.

This trait usually manifests in childhood, but teachers or parents may dismiss it as laziness or forgetfulness. As a result, you may assume that it's a matter of willpower, rather than a result of issues with your brain chemistry!

Issues with Listening

You try hard to pay attention to others. You recognize the importance of being present and engaged in your conversations.

And yet, you completely forgot everything your boss just told you. Or you overlooked picking up eggs at the grocery store even though your roommate asked you twice this morning.

It's not that you're self-centered. It's that ADHD impacts the parts of the brain associated with mindfulness and attention. This can translate to difficulties with listening and retaining information.

Getting Started on a Task

You know you just need to start drafting that email. Or you need to just call your credit card company to sort out that late payment.

And yet, the single task feels so overwhelming and insurmountable that you avoid it altogether. You feel anxious about starting, and you worry about doing it incorrectly. If it's something you don't enjoy, you may put it off altogether.

This procrastination or avoidance can create numerous problems. It can make others perceive you as unreliable, leading to financial, physical, and emotional consequences.

Intense Anger

A minor thing can spin you into the most negative headspace. You find yourself exploding over a simple question, and normal setbacks often feel catastrophic.

ADHD can lead to difficulties with understanding and controlling emotions. As a result, you may feel like you don't have any real control over your feelings. Instead, things can seem very all-or-nothing.

This emotional intensity doesn't just apply to anger. It can also apply to other uncomfortable emotions like sadness or fear.

Obsessive Focus

People often think of ADHD as a disorder characterized by disorganization and distraction. In some cases, this is true. But the opposite problem can also occur.

Some people experience an obsessive type of hyperfocus over certain activities. You may become completely engrossed, but it's to the point where you neglect other responsibilities. For instance, you might forget to eat, take care of essential commitments, or even engage in basic hygiene.

When someone or something interrupts you from this task, it makes you feel irritated. As a result, this symptom can cause severe disruptions in your relationships.


Although this symptom is present in conditions, such as bipolar disorder, substance use disorders, and generalized anxiety, it can often get overlooked in adult ADHD. That's because many people assume impulsivity is just a selfish choice, rather than a serious mental health issue.

In ADHD, impulsivity can look like:

  • being socially inappropriate during critical social events

  • rushing through tasks without taking the time to ensure they meet quality standards

  • acting quickly and erratically

  • jumping to conclusions before parsing out all the information


Although ADHD symptoms include restlessness and hyperactivity, many people experience a crash-like effect after being on the go. This fatigue appears to be more prevalent in adults than children, which makes it harder to detect.

Fatigue can be both physical and emotional. For example, you may feel tired even after getting an optimal amount of sleep. Or, you may find yourself excited for a specific activity, only to feel exhausted once it starts.

To compound this fatigue, you may turn to quick fixes, like caffeine or nicotine. While these habits may work in the short term, they tend to aggravate your nervous system. This effect can backfire and lead you to feel even more tired.

What Should You Do If You're Struggling With These Adult ADHD Symptoms?

Self-diagnosing doesn't take your complete medical and psychiatric history into account. That's why it's so important to obtain an accurate assessment from a psychiatrist. They can review your adult ADHD symptoms and formulate an appropriate treatment plan. They will also discuss psychiatric medication and therapy options.

At The Mental Health House, we provide structure, support, and hope for clients struggling with various behavioral and emotional issues. We are here for you and your loved ones. Contact us today to learn more.

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