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Adult ADHD Guide: What is it? Signs of Adult ADHD, Getting A Diagnosis and Treatments

Adult ADHD Guide: What is it? Signs of Adult ADHD, Getting A Diagnosis and Treatments

ADHD is an increasingly common problem across the world.

Not only does it affect children, but many adults are finding that whilst they have ADHD, they have gone their entire lives with no diagnosis.

This guide will teach you all you need to know about ADHD in adults, including what it is, signs, symptoms, getting a diagnosis and what treatments are available.

If you'd like to learn more about Adderall (including the best over the counter Adderall alternatives), our team of experts have also created an article on that topic.

ADHD infographic what it is, symptoms, treatment

Table of Contents

- What is ADHD in adults?
- Signs of ADHD in adults
- How to get diagnosed for ADHD as an adult
- Natural treatment for ADHD in adults
- References

What is ADHD in adults?

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a behavioural disorder that is usually diagnosed in children.

However, in some cases, ADHD does not get diagnosed until adulthood. ADHD is a so-called developmental disorder, which means that it does not suddenly appear in adulthood.

Instead, symptoms will have persisted from childhood onwards.

As implied in the name, there are two categories into which the symptoms fall: inattentiveness and hyperactivity or impulsivity.

You may have heard of a similar-sounding disorder called attention deficit disorder (ADD).

This term describes a ‘subtype’ where only symptoms to do with inattentiveness are present.

The sub types of ADHD

ADHD is usually treated with ADHD medications and/ or therapy.

While these do not provide a cure, they can relieve the symptoms experienced.

Importantly, ADHD is a mental disorder and experiencing ADHD-like symptoms does not necessarily mean having the disorder.

As with most other mental disorders, there are various factors contributing to the causes of ADHD.

This causes of ADHD are still being researched, however, contributing factors seem to include genetics, environmental influences and problems during the developmental periods of the nervous system.

Signs of ADHD in adults

Usually, the symptoms of ADHD reduce over time when children and teenager progress into adulthood.

While some children with ADHD will present with symptoms in adulthood, the Royal College of Psychiatrists suggests that “2 out of every 3 of those diagnosed with ADHD as children continue to have these problems as teenagers. 2 out of 3 of these will still have problems as adults”.

Therefore, the diagnosis of ADHD in adulthood is less common and more difficult than in childhood.

However, while the experience of ADHD in adulthood may differ, the symptoms experienced are very similar.

Common symptoms include not being able to focus on a task, getting easily distracted and finding it difficult to remain still, as well as experiencing a need to move, fidget with things etc.

Now, these symptoms have been experienced by most people at some point throughout their lifetime if not every day - and most of us do not experience ADHD.

Therefore, the diagnosis of ADHD is a process that tries to be as precise as possible.

How to get diagnosed for ADHD as an adult

ADHD is diagnosed by qualified health professionals (i.e. a psychiatrist) oftentimes using the DSM-5.

The DSM is the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, currently in its fifth edition. Because ADHD in adulthood may present differently to ADHD in childhood and adolescence, the criteria for diagnosis are slightly different.

Instead of presenting with 6 symptoms of each of the below categories, adults and adolescents 17 plus must only present with 5 symptoms of each category.

Importantly, these symptoms must interfere with a person’s functioning and, generally put, quality of life outcomes to be diagnosed as a mental disorder, and therefore as ADHD.

Inattention: symptoms of inattention have been present for at least 6 months, and they are inappropriate for developmental level:
  • Often fails to give close attention to details or makes careless mistakes in schoolwork, at work, or with other activities.
  • Often has trouble holding attention on tasks or play activities.
  • Often does not seem to listen when spoken to directly.
  • Often does not follow through on instructions and fails to finish schoolwork, chores, or duties in the workplace (e.g., loses focus, side-tracked).
  • Often has trouble organizing tasks and activities.
  • Often avoids, dislikes, or is reluctant to do tasks that require mental effort over a long period of time (such as schoolwork or homework).
  • Often loses things necessary for tasks and activities (e.g. school materials, pencils, books, tools, wallets, keys, paperwork, eyeglasses, mobile telephones).
  • Is often easily distracted
  • Is often forgetful in daily activities.
Hyperactivity and Impulsivity: symptoms of hyperactivity-impulsivity have been present for at least 6 months to an extent that is disruptive and inappropriate for the person’s developmental level:

  • Often fidgets with or taps hands or feet, or squirms in seat.
  • Often leaves their seat in situations when remaining seated is expected.
  • Often runs about or climbs in situations where it is not appropriate (adolescents or adults may be limited to feeling restless).
  • Often unable to play or take part in leisure activities quietly.
  • Is often “on the go” acting as if “driven by a motor”.
  • Often talks excessively.
  • Often blurts out an answer before a question has been completed.
  • Often has trouble waiting his/her turn.
  • Often interrupts or intrudes on others (e.g., butts into conversations or games)

In addition to the above, according to the DSM-5 these symptoms must be present in more than one settings.

Another criterium for the diagnosis is that symptoms must have been present before the age of 12.

This may make a diagnosis in adulthood more difficult. Of course, there will be other criteria and factors taken into consideration when a psychiatrist diagnoses ADHD.

I've had one person describe ADHD as sometimes being similar to being in a manic episode, one of the bipolar symptoms.

Natural treatment for ADHD in adults

Alternative, ‘natural’, treatments for ADHD in adults are being researched, however, there is lacking evidence regarding their effectiveness at this point.

Having a balanced diet is generally advisable and beneficent.

Additionally, there have been suggestions that supplements such as omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids may be helpful for people with ADHD.

However, the NHS stresses that while some people experience a link between their diet and either worsening or improving ADHD symptoms, further research is needed and talking to one’s GP before making any changes to the diet is highly advisable.

Similarly, in 2010, a research team examining the effect of micronutrients on adults with ADHD came to the conclusion that further randomised trials are needed to come to reliable findings.

If you have been diagnosed with ADHD then you should stick with the treatment recommended by your Doctor. However, if you have ADHD-like symptoms, you should consider using natural brain food supplements to mitigate the symptoms. 

All of BrainZyme®'s products have been scientifically proven to support concentration, focus, attention, mental performance and the reduction of tiredness in under one hour.

Supplements for ADHD-like symptoms

If you are looking for a convenient, affordable and effective method to mitigate ADHD-like symptoms, we recommend BrainZyme®.

BrainZyme® is a range of three different powerful brain food supplements, all of which have been scientifically proven to support concentration, mental performance and the reduction of tiredness in under one hour.

It is a significant weapon for those who want short-term relief of a deficit of attention, focus, energy or motivation.

Click on the link if you’d like to learn more about how BrainZyme can help you improve your attention.

Or, you can check out our related articles:

The Ultimate 2019 Adderall UK Guide: Legality, Alternatives & More

5 Top Tips For Improving Mental Performance Without Supplements

A Quick Guide To Curing Brain Fog: Supplements For A Clear Head

If you found this article useful, please share it with your friends so that they too can learn the best ways of improving attention, focus and concentration.


  • American Psychiatric Association: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition. Arlington, VA., American Psychiatric Association, 2013.
  • Rucklidge, J., Taylor, M., & Whitehead, K. (2011). Effect of Micronutrients on Behavior and Mood in Adults With ADHD: Evidence From an 8-Week Open Label Trial With Natural Extension. Journal of Attention Disorders, 15(1), 79–91.

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  • Hi Martin,

    Thanks for your question.

    I’d definitely recommend to see a doctor in that case.

    BrainZyme is not a medicine and should not be used to replace medicine prescribed by a doctor.

    If you go to the doctor and in turns out you don’t have ADHD, just some ADHD-like symptoms, then BrainZyme should be able to help you.


    Robert (Mod) on

  • I’ve always had issues concentrating through school, but always thought it was fairly normal.

    Seeing the list you wrote makes me think I actually have ADHD.

    Should I take brainzyme?

    Martin on

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