Are You an Adult with Attention Deficit?

Are You an Adult with Attention Deficit?

Last update: 18 January, 2018

“Attention deficit with or without hyperactivity does not exist in adults!” This is an idea of the past, but has now been proven to be inaccurate, if not false. In fact, scientific studies have demonstrated this deficit in adults.

It’s obvious to see in the stories and things heard in therapy. They show recurrent difficulty, for years, in different areas. In turn, these difficulties are a consequence of the negative effects of chronic symptoms. Attention deficit with or without hyperactivity does exist in adults!

Thus, it is now proven that attention deficit, with or without hyperactivity, does not exclusively affect children. In a high proportion of people it continues through adulthood.

On the other hand, it’s also true that an adult with attention deficit may have autonomously developed certain strategies to successfully compensate for the difficulties the disorder gives them.

Typical behaviors in an adult with attention deficit, with or without hyperactivity, constitute symptoms that tend to build and sustain subjectivity. A world of their own, often not without suffering, limitations and challenges that affect a wide range of parts of their life.

Attention deficit with or without hyperactivity does exist in adults. It does not exclusively affect children.

a woman looking at a calculator, upset

Devastating effects

Research has released date that indicates around 3% of the adult population has an attention deficit or impulsivity disorder. In addition, they may present hyperactivity.

Other studies suggest an even higher percentage: 67% of children diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity syndrome have symptoms that continue into adulthood. This can interfere with their performance in multiple areas, such as relationships, work, and studies.

The existence of attention deficit, with or without hyperactivity, in adults is irrefutable. Moreover, having grown up with this syndrome without knowing it can have devastating effects.

In addition, the prevalence of the disorder is higher in women, with a predominance of inattention (that is, without presenting hyperactivity).

The lack of hyperactivity often disguises the problem and makes it go unnoticed as real difficulty. In fact, only in recent years have we begun to detect and treat attention deficit without hyperactivity in women.

On the other hand, the symptomatic behaviors of attention deficit, with or without hyperactivity, increase emotional, intellectual, physical, and other risks. Chronic deficits bring enormous pain and conflict.

The difficulties in maintaining attention are reflected in low performance, impulsive decision-making behavior, low self-esteem or family problems. It’s harder for an adult with attention deficit to organize and properly control their life in general, unless they has acquired strategies that compensate for this difficulty.

a woman with attention deficit, trying to read

Complex diagnosis

The identification of attention deficit, with or without hyperactivity, in an adult is important for this person’s daily life. However, that doesn’t mean that diagnosis is simple.

In fact, in most cases it is complex and, just like for other problems, we still have unanswered questions about it.

However, there is no longer any doubt that this disorder exists, and that it is detectable in adults. In addition, once diagnosed, treatment is possible.

From childhood to adulthood with attention deficit

It used to be that attention deficit covered a series of childhood difficulties. It was thought that with growth and maturity they would lessen and disappear.

Unfortunately, in many cases it’s not like that. A large proportion of children with attention deficit, with or without hyperactivity, will continue to have it throughout their lives.

It has also been found that, when they are mild, attention deficit symptoms can help shape a lifestyle, a way of being. In many cases, attention deficit manifests differently as the adolescent grows and becomes an adult, but the central problems remain the same.

Gradually, disabilities accumulate painful and complex secondary consequences. This is detrimental to a person’s self-image and self-esteem. Low self-esteem is a typical consequence in adults who suffer from attention deficit.

An adult with attention deficit often has low self-esteem.

a child at school

An adult with attention deficit: main symptoms

It’s important to clarify that attention deficit, with or without hyperactivity, is manifested by different symptoms that have been grouped together for classification. In this sense, remember that someone may have the disorder even if they don’t identify with all of them.

According to the most widely used psychology texts, the first symptoms are grouped into three major basic groups: attention, impulsiveness and hyperactivity.

Symptoms regarding attention

The person…

  • Doesn’t pay enough attention to details. They make careless mistakes in homework, at work or in other activities.
  • Often has difficulty maintaining attention on tasks or enjoyable activities.
  • Often seems to not listen when spoken to directly.
  • Frequently doesn’t follow instructions or finish tasks or obligations.
  • Daydreams.
  • Avoids tasks that require sustained mental effort.
  • Is easily distracted by irrelevant stimuli.

Symptoms regarding hyperactivity

  • Often moves their hands or feet excessively.
  • Frequently is “on the move”, like they have an engine inside.
  • Often talks in excess.
  • Has trouble quietly engaging in leisure activities.

Symptoms regarding impulsivity

  • Often gives answers before questions have been completed.
  • Has difficulty waiting their turn.
  • Often interrupts or intrudes on the activities of others.

Research says that deficits in attention not only limit or hinder listening skills. They also, for example, make it harder to activate, organize, start and sustain attention at work.

In addition there may be problems with sustaining energy and effort. Also, there may be mood swings and sensitivity to criticism. Memory failures are common too. They may have difficulty retrieving concepts already learned, remembering names, dates and information in general.

Both those who suffer from impulsivity and attention deficit, and those who also have hyperactivity, feel the effects of the symptoms above. Side effects are everywhere, most of them based on incomprehension.

There is a lot of evidence that attention deficit disorder with or without hyperactivity is passed down through family. The research takes into account the genetic factors present in attention deficit disorders.

a woman asleep at a work meeting

Other “adult characteristics” of attention deficit (with or without hyperactivity)

Other characteristics of people with attention deficit, with or without hyperactivity, are the following:

  • Low threshold for fatigue when they have to do a task for a long period.
  • Problems with self-control and behavior regulation.
  • Difficulties in the regulation of emotions, motivation, activating themselves.
  • Low self-esteem.
  • Difficulties in personal relationships.
  • Difficulties with impulsiveness in areas with significant potential risks: expenses, various addictions, food, physical safety, sexual relations, etc.
  • Problems with “resisting temptation”.

As we’ve seen, much of the information circulated recently about attention deficit, with or without hyperactivity, has had children and adolescents as main focus.

However, without neglecting all the work that can be done with children who have attention deficit, it’s time to also talk about adults with this disorder.

How about you, do you identify with these symptoms? Are you an adult with attention deficit? If the answer is yes, then we recommend seeing a specialist. Attention deficit disorder can be treated and your life can be improved.




Bibliographic references:

Hallowell, Edward M .; Ratey, John J.“TDAH: controlando la hiperactividad”. Ed. Paidós. 2001.

Russell A. Barkley. Tomar el control del TDAH en la edad adulta”. Editorial: Octaedro. 2013.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.