Could I Have Adult ADHD?
Maybe you asked yourself this question the last time you were late for work, procrastinated before starting a project, misplaced your keys or zoned out in a meeting. For 8 to 9 million American adults, the answer is yes, they do have adult ADHD.
Do you? You could look at an adult symptoms checklist. Ever zone out, make careless mistakes, have trouble finishing projects, lose things, forget stuff? Ever feel restless, get impatient, talk a blue streak, blurt things out?
Of course you do! Everyone does -- once in a while. How can you tell if it’s really ADHD?
Also see: Could You Have Adult ADHD?
2 Crucial Signs of Adult ADHD
Two key factors help determine whether you have adult ADHD: frequency and the impact on your life. “If you look at the list of symptoms and check off that you do them rarely or occasionally, you probably don’t have ADHD,” says Russell A. Barkley, Ph.D., clinical professor of psychiatry at the Medical University of South Carolina, and author of Taking Charge of Adult ADHD (Guilford Press), “but if you check ‘often’ or ‘very often’ on most of them, you may.” Just as important: Do these symptoms affect your daily life? “If you experience consequences from these symptoms in major life activities like work, education, raising your children, managing money or social relationships,” says Barkley, “you may have ADHD.”
The following scenarios can help you figure out what’s normal life and what might signal ADHD. For troublesome symptoms, we’ll suggest ways to cope better and how to get help if you need it.
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Scenario 1: You’ve Lost Your Keys
After misplacing your car keys three times in one month, and your cell phone twice, you bought a new purse and designated one pocket for keys and the other for your cell phone. That was three months ago and you haven’t misplaced them since. ADHD? Probably not.
Scenario 2: You’ve Lost Your Keys
You’ve misplaced your keys three times this week, making you late for work each time. You had to replace your cell phone twice this month, an unnecessary expense -- and you missed some important work calls because of it. ADHD? Might be.
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Lost Keys: What’s the Difference?
In the first scenario, you recognized that you had a tendency to lose these things, came up with a strategy and solved your problem. In the second scenario, your absentmindedness is affecting your life financially and possibly jeopardizing your job security -- yet you haven’t addressed it.
Scenario 1: "I’m Late, I’m Late”
You are late to work, on average, once a month either because of traffic, your child misses the school bus and you need to drive him to school, or you get an important phone call right as you are walking out the door. ADHD? Probably not.
Also see: Are Procrastinators Perfectionists in Disguise?
Scenario 2: “I’m Late, I’m Late”
You’re late to work three to four days a week because you oversleep, take too long to get dressed, can’t get out the door on time. Your boss has told you that if you don’t do something about your lack of punctuality, you may lose your job. ADHD? Might be.
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Late, Late: What’s the Difference?
Once again it’s the impact on your life and the frequency of your symptoms. Everyone is late sometimes, often for reasons that are out of their control. But if you are chronically late and you have a history of problems with attention and organization, you may need an evaluation for ADHD.
How to cope: “Often people who are chronically late don’t have an accurate sense of how long they need to get ready, so the first thing you should do is time yourself for several days,” says Mary Solanto, Ph.D., associate professor of psychiatry and director of the ADHD Center in the Department of Psychiatry at Mt. Sinai School of Medicine. “How long does it really take you to get up in the morning? How long is it from the moment you get up until you can walk out the door with all of the stuff you need for the day? How long does it take you to drive to work? Once you have a realistic picture of how much time you need for each of your major daily activities, you can better structure your day to allow enough time for the things you need to do.”
Check out more scenarios to help determine if you have adult ADHD here
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