It’s not just a kids’ condition. Find out if your mind is at risk (Photo: Thinkstock)
ADHD—attention deficit hyperactivity disorder—is one of the most common mental disorders diagnosed in kids. But just because you’ve graduated from stickers and backpacks to spreadsheets and briefcases doesn’t mean the disorder can’t affect you.
Whiile ADHD is a developmental disorder that begins when you’re a kid, it can persist into adulthood—causing problems with your job, other responsibilities, or your relationship.
Here are 6 surprising symptoms of adult ADHD. If these sound familiar, let your doctor know, as she can better determine if you truly have ADHD and are a candidate for treatment.
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You Take Lots Of Bathroom Breaks
And not because you have to pee a lot. Adults with ADHD often feel like they have to be on the move—almost like they’re powered by an invisible motor—making something like a long presentation or meeting feel unbearable. They might just fidget, but they can also be more likely to actually get up and go, whether it’s to the water fountain or the bathroom.
“They’re not able to settle easily,” says Anthony Rostain, M.D., the medical director for the adult developmental disorders section at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine. “We also see adults having trouble just sitting and waiting for whatever.”
You’re A Champion Interrupter
Let’s say you’re engaging in some small talk, and the guy you’re chatting with is taking forever to get to the point. Do you often interrupt him or even finish his sentences? That’s a common behavior seen in guys with ADHD.
It might simply be impatience, but it also can have something to do with working memory. There’s growing evidence that suggests people with ADHD might have difficulty holding information in their minds before applying it, such as in conversation, says Dr. Rostain.
“They might be afraid if they don’t say what’s on their mind, they’ll forget what they have to say,” he explains. (Make sure you don’t forget about the 3 Exercises You Should Do Every Day.)
You Don’t Like To Wait
Think of that famous marshmallow experiment: If someone offered you one tasty treat now or two later on, which situation would you choose? People who can wait for their rewards can delay their gratification, but that’s something that can be difficult in adults with ADHD.
In fact, research suggests that people with ADHD show abnormal activation of the reward pathways in their brain, which may explain the challenge in delaying gratification.
And it’s not just about marshmallows. You might have a problem holding off on rewards if you purchase the first thing you see instead of shopping around for a better price or waiting for a sale, or even if you constantly reload your Facebook app to see if anyone’s commented on or liked your posts.
You’ve Started 281 New Hobbies
Started being the key word. People with ADHD tend to be novelty seekers, meaning they’re always on the lookout for new, fun things. The problem, though, is that they may not follow through with the hobbies, says Dr. Rostain.
Take a look at your closet. Is it crammed with skis you’ve used twice, then tossed aside? How about some Rosetta Stone software from when you vowed to teach yourself French?
Now, there’s no shame in wanting to try, say, bird watching, only to discover a couple weeks in that you can’t stand the noisy critters. It’s when it starts to become habitual—like if you bail on rock climbing a few weeks after bidding farewell to the fowl—that it may signal a bigger issue. (Try The Anarchy Workout for 6 weeks and you could lose up to 18 pounds of pure fat!)
You’ve Got Serious Road Rage
Yes, your propensity to flip other motorists off might actually be a symptom of ADHD. The finger doesn’t really have anything to do with driving, though—it serves as a vehicle for your anger, frustration, and impatience to boil over.
Think of what happens before you even get behind the wheel: You’re probably already running a few minutes late, maybe because you had some last-minute things to take care of that morning. Then once you cruise to the main road, you’re stuck behind a granny doing 20 mph in a 50. Your temper flares, and you yell some choice words, pull some aggressive driving techniques—or both.
Related: 13 Insanely Easy Ways To Be More Likable
“It’s a combination of being angry at the situation they are in, feeling trapped, and feeling like they’ve misjudged their time and are going to be late,” says Dr. Rostain. “A lot of people are afraid of what those consequences will be.”
You’re Attached To Your Cell Phone
A hallmark of ADHD is the need for distraction, and what better to keep you preoccupied than your smartphone? You might find yourself texting while someone’s trying to talk to you, or tapping out a quick status update on the sly during a meeting.
Another risk factor: Playing with your phone while driving, says Dr. Rostain. You might do it because of instant gratification—traffic jams are boring, you think, but skimming through some tweets can break the monotony. Resist the urge: Texting while driving can raise your risk of a crash by 23-fold, according to research.
By Christa Sgobba
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