Updated 15 June 2015

Could you have adult ADHD?

Adult attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is one of the most misdiagnosed disorders. Could adult ADHD be at the root of your problems?

Adult attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) can destroy relationships, sabotage careers and cause havoc in one’s life – yet most people with this condition remain untreated because it’s one of the most misdiagnosed disorders. Could adult ADHD be at the root of your problems?

Take a look at the list of symptoms below. Remember that we all exhibit these symptoms from time to time and to be diagnosed with adult ADHD you have to show symptoms continual and over a long period of time. It must disrupt your day-to-day life.

Do you easily feel emotionally overwhelmed?

ADHD sufferers are like tortoises born without a shell, Collis says. The tiniest thing can provoke an excessive emotional reaction. It’s as if the emotion takes over your entire being and you can’t see it in perspective. Sufferers also have little emotional and social intelligence and struggle to read the emotional messages of others.

Do you struggle with relationships?

Because someone with ADHD is so impulsive you quickly lose your temper, don’t listen to others, blurt out responses and don’t communicate well, Collis says. It’s bad news for your personal relationships. People who are diagnosed with ADHD when they’re older often have a divorce or two behind them. They often end relationships impulsively or start affairs.

Do you suffer from depression or anxiety?

Most adults with ADHD suffer from one or more additional conditions too, particularly anxiety and depression. Other conditions often associated with ADHD include bipolar disorder, sleeping disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder and drug abuse. It’s no wonder then that doctors so easily misdiagnose adult ADHD. If you complain about depression your doctor is going to treat you for that and probably miss the underlying ADHD.

Is your working life a mess?

If you have adult ADHD you’re probably late for work most of the time, terrible with time management, you procrastinate and get tangled up in unimportant detail. As a result your performance is dramatically impaired and your productivity is often very low because you work so slowly and may try to compensate by being a perfectionist.

Do you abuse alcohol and drugs?

Many people with ADHD abuse drugs, prescription medication or alcohol, Dr Benn says. It’s often a form of self-medication because substance abuse provides the stimulation they desperately seek or help them cope with depression and anxiety. Among the criticisms levelled at Ritalin is the theory that it can turn one into a drug addict. But the latest research shows the opposite is true: the risk of becoming an addict is far greater if your ADHD goes untreated than if you’re treated with medication at an early stage.

Do you get bored quickly?

Most people don’t enjoy mundane chores, but people with ADHD have an active aversion to such tasks, Collis says. That’s why the home of someone with ADHD is often messy and untidy. But give them a task that stimulates them and they’ll focus on it with no effort at all. Boredom and ADHD don’t go together well. Sufferers are starters, not finishers. They often begin a new project or even career but don’t see it through.

Do you get a lot of speeding tickets or cause car accidents?

Hyperactive people love speed and often drive too fast. People with attention deficit struggle to concentrate on driving and the road.

Do you become stressed out when multifunctioning is required?

Often people with ADHD function very well at work – until they are promoted. Then they fall apart because they can’t keep all the balls in the air. The same can happen with parents. A mother with ADHD can possibly handle her first child well but when the second arrives a breakdown threatens.

Does someone in your family have ADHD?

ADHD runs in families. If you have it chances are high that one or more of your siblings also suffer from it. Many adults realise they have ADHD only when their kids are diagnosed.

(This is an edited version of a story that originally appeared in YOU Pulse.)


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Ask the Expert

ADHD Expert

Dr. Shabeer Ahmed Jeeva is a specialist psychiatrist who has been practicing child and adult psychiatry for 30 years. He has vast experience in treating ADHD, and is also an ADHD patient himself. Dr. Jeeva trained and practiced in Canada as a child and adult psychiatrist and had lived there for 25 years. He had attended medical school at the Royal College of Surgeons in Dublin, Ireland (1970-1976). His professional experience and accreditation includes: Psychiatric residency at the University of Ottawa (Canada), Child Psychiatry fellowship at the University of Ottawa (Canada), Diploma in Psychiatry at the University of Ottawa (Canada), and Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians in Canada. Visit his website at:

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