Symptoms and Signs of Adult ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder in Adults)

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Medically Reviewed on 1/20/2022

Doctor's Notes on Adult ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder in Adults)

Adult ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in adults) is defined as a neurodevelopmental disorder that includes primary problems with inattention and/or activity in adults (there is still some controversy about the definition to include substance use, sleep disorders, and others). Signs and symptoms include hyperactivity (inner restlessness, can't relax, unhappy when inactive), impulsivity (impatient, snap decisions, rapidly changing tasks), and inattention (disorganized, poor time management, misses parts of conversations).

Adult ADHD is thought to be caused by both genetics and life-experience factors that theoretically may trigger brain chemicals like dopamine and norepinephrine to have abnormal levels at different brain locations.

What Are the Treatments for Adult ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder in Adults)?

ADHD in adults usually involves medication, education, skills training, and psychological counseling. Combinations of these treatments have the most success in decreasing symptoms. Examples of treatments are as follows:

  • Medications
  • Education and skills training: Learn about ADHD and how to cope with the problems ADHD may present to employers.
  • Psychological counseling
    • Cognitive behavioral therapy: Manage negative thinking patterns, depression, school, or work relationships.
    • Marital counseling and family therapy: coping with stress, improving communications, problem-solving skills

You and your doctors may need to try several variations of treatments to find the best combinations of the above to manage your ADHD.


Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.