Common Symptoms of ADD in Adults

many faces

1. We are easily distracted and have difficulty paying attention. We have a tendency to tune out or drift away. For example, we might say:

It is a struggle for me to stay focused or centered. When I least expect it, my brain changes channels, and I respond to the beat of another drum.

Although I can hyperfocus a times, I am more often distracted, and have difficulty staying on target.


At times I feel scattered and confused, like iron shavings attracted by competing magnetic fields.

I set out to clean the kitchen, and often find myself reading a cookbook and deciding to try a new recipe. I eventually finish the kitchen, but it takes me a while.

2. We are impulsive, and we make hasty decisions without considering the consequences. For example, we might say:

I make plans without consulting my family, and then wonder why they don't share my enthusiasm. I jump to conclusions before analyzing all the facts. This creates problems in my personal and business life. I make decisions, commitments, purchases, even major life changes without adequately considering the consequences. I buy things I don't need, and then wonder where all my money went. The worst part is having to justify my actions.

3. We are restless, often hyperactive, and full of nervous energy. For example, we might say:

I usually feel edgy and am always "on the go." My insides are constantly churning. I drum my fingers, twist my hair, pace, shift positions while seated, or leave the room frequently. I'm always looking for a way to release my excess energy. I channel-surf with the TV remote control and find it hard to relax. I am an aggressive driver and love to weave in and out of traffic. My favorite game is looking for "hole shots" and creating my own car race.

4. We have a strong sense of underachievement and always feel that we fail to live up to our potential. For example, we might say:

Whether I am highly accomplished or floundering, I feel incapable of realizing my true potential. I feel like a failure and view success as something that only others achieve. In spite of my accomplishments and a satisfying relationship, I find it difficult to feel happy and fulfilled. In school I was called an underachiever, and that message still affects me today. I tend to be critical of my performance, even if others compliment me for a job well done.

5. We have difficulty in relationships. For example, we might say:

My inability to stay focused in the present moment gives others the impression that I don't care. I get bored easily and have a hard time listening to others. I feel uncomfortable in group activities where social interaction is required. I prefer not to be noticed, because I'm afraid I will say the wrong thing. Sometimes I forget to say hello or goodbye, and others accuse me of being rude.

6. We are procrastinators and have trouble getting started or feeling motivated. For example, we might say:

I put things off until the last minute, but the last-minute adrenaline rush makes the task possible, more interesting, and stimulating. I use deadlines as a way to create panic and chaos. This enables me to hyperfocus, so that I can complete the task on time. I allow piles of work to accumulate because I can't get organized. Only in times of hyperfocus can I actually get something accomplished. I'm inclined to start a project the night before it is due, stay up all night to finish it, and be totally burned out the next day.

7. We cannot tolerate boredom and are always looking for something to do. For example, we might say:

I become bored with activities, conversations and situations that do not interest me. I'm always looking for highly stimulating activities that keep my adrenaline flowing. When I sense boredom approaching, I look for something new and stimulating, rather than accept the idea of being bored. All of my waking moments need to be filled with something to do or something to think about. I cannot risk the possibility of having nothing to do.

8. We have difficulty getting organized. For example, we might say:

I have organizational plans, to-do lists, schedules and resolutions, but still end up with piles on my desk, missed appointments and unanswered phone calls. I have difficulty managing my time effectively. I am often late for meetings, and I lose track of everything from keys to commitments. I often feel out of control and confused because I don't know how to organize my time and activities. My kids do a better job of organizing than I do. I do better when others remind me of appointments and give me direction and structure.

9. We are impatient and have a low tolerance for frustration. For example, we might say:

I become impatient when things don't happen fast enough for me. I have a tendency to withdraw or react in anger. I like to know the bottom line without having to listen to all the details that I consider unimportant. If a line is held up because of coupons, price checks or check cashing, I get impatient and want to lash out at the person creating the delay. I don't like waiting for people or dealing with people's problems.

10. We have mood swings with periods of anxiety, depression or loneliness. For example, we might say:

Periods of depression affect my work, relationships and perception of reality. I sometimes withdraw and isolate myself. A simple setback can bring on feelings of overwhelming hopelessness for me. My moods are unpredictable and can cause me to be either verbally and physically active or quiet and inactive. In the midst of a seemingly endless stream of thoughts, a memory of past failure or loss can submerge my mood instantly.

11. We worry excessively and often have a sense of impending doom. For example, we might say:

Within minutes after awakening or after arriving at work, I seem to search my mind for a topic to worry about. I use worry as a way to stay focused. It's like cutting my finger; all my attention can be in one place. A feeling of impending doom seems to hover over me. I worry constantly about my health. I fear that I'm too fat, too thin, or have some fatal or debilitating disease.

12. We have trouble going through established channels or following proper procedures. For example, we might say:

I am a maverick at heart and do not like to follow rules or go through proper channels to complete a task. I tend to be critical of those in charge, and prefer being free to do things my own way. I feel smothered by procedures, policies, and being directed by others. Being required to conform stifles my productivity. I have a hard time teaching my children to respect authority and follow the rules, because I have a hard time doing those things myself.

13. We have many projects going simultaneously, and have trouble following through with a project or task. For example, we might say:

I assume responsibility for more projects than I can realistically accomplish. I lose interest quickly and have difficulty completing one task before starting a new one. I prefer simple tasks that I can complete before I get an urge to start another one. I am capable of juggling lots of projects or commitments at the same time, but it creates anxiety and pressure for me.

14. We are poor observers of ourselves and are often unaware of our effect on others. For example, we might say:

I have difficulty discerning how others perceive me. I rarely pick up the signals that indicate how well I am being received or if I'm talking too much. I tend to monopolize a conversation without knowing it. My friends tell me I talk too much about myself and don't give them a chance to share their story. I often exaggerate a story to make my point, and don't notice that others don't believe me. At work I think others agree with me. In reality they are confused by my "idea-a-minute" mentality.

15. We tend to say what comes to mind without considering the timing or appropriateness of the remark. For example, we might say:

I blurt out inappropriate comments without considering the possible consequences. Later, when I take time to reflect on what I said, I beat myself up for saying something so stupid. I have a hard time waiting my turn in conversations, and I interrupt others while they are talking. I speak out of turn in meetings. This makes people angry, and I often lose the main point of the meeting or lose the respect of those present. I have a reputation for making one-liner comments that hurt people's feelings.

16. We have a tendency toward addictive behavior, and use mood-altering substances to medicate ourselves. For example, we might say:

I use cocaine to help me focus, alcohol or marijuana to calm me down, and food to comfort me. I take prescription drugs as a way to speed up or slow down, depending on my needs of the moment. I use coffee and cigarettes to keep me energized and to numb my feelings. I use work to give me focus, motivation, and a sense of accomplishment. At times I use it as a way to avoid boredom.

17. We have difficulty in the workplace. We either change jobs frequently or have trouble getting along with our coworkers. For example, we might say:

I become bored with a job and cannot convince myself to stay, even though my financial security is at stake. I assume too much responsibility or take on too many tasks, and then cannot fulfill my obligations. I change my mind frequently and create confusion among my coworkers.

I waste time and resources on insignificant projects and spend time on things that keep my interest but have little value to the overall scheme of things.

18. We have a family history of ADD or other disorders of impulse control or mood. For example, we might say:

I have biological family members with strong evidence of ADD or other disorders of impulse control. I can trace ADD symptoms back several generations. I have family members who are considered high-strung and who have unstable careers. A lot of my close relatives have trouble controlling their tempers. I have biological children with ADD, and I learned of my own ADD through their diagnosis.

Adapted from The Twelve Steps: A Key to Living With Attention Deficit Disorder (Friends in Recovery, RPI Publishing Inc

133 Responses to “Common Symptoms of ADD in Adults”

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  1. lynsey says:

    Hi Chris,
    I live in Scotland. I was hoping you may be able to give me some advice. I am a 40 year old female and suspect I have undiagnosed ADD.I feel it is just not recognised in the U/K as it is in other countries and was wondering how I would go about getting a diagnosis.

    Thank’s

    • Chris says:

      Hi Lynsey,

      As I’ve stated previously in this thread, go buy a book that deals with ADD from Amazon (preferably thru’ the new n’ used section) in that way you’ll be able to identify, or highlight, the areas of your life that correspond to the accepted diagnosis of ADD. It’s amazing when you discover via such books, how you’re ‘not alone.’ Any such book, will greatly help you to ‘verbalise’ or comprehend the effects that ADD is having upon your life before you make an appointment with your NHS General Practitioner ( known as your family doctor) He, or she will then refer you to a Psychiatrist or other mental-health consultant for further assessment. Unfortunately, ‘there ain’t no cure’, as combatting this syndrome involves a ‘day by day’ life changing effort to deal with. I cannot say that any medication will greatly assist either. If offered any medication, always ask in great detail about the side-effects. Hope this helps.

  2. Help says:

    My son was the first to bring up the fact that he thinks he has ADD. After reading about the symptoms, I am inclined to believe that even as a child, he showed these symptoms. (But no one knew about ADD or it was in the early stages). My son is 45 now and has left his house and belongings and is now scouting for a new home in a different state. To me this is not the way to do it. But, he has always been bull-headed and quick tempered. He has trouble concentrating for very long on many things, and does not keep a job for long because he says he cannot get along with other people. Most of the symptoms described above, match him but not all of them. He thinks no one can help him, so he doesn’t try to get help. What I need to know is how to help him and where to get him help. Should I call a Social Worker? How do I get him tested for ADD? It’s hard to get him the help he needs, since he won’t come home and stay in one place. I love my son and just wish he could be able to function in society.

    Signed,
    A Cry for Help Mother

    • Chris says:

      This posting has quite upset me. I live in the UK, so I know how the ‘free’ and excellent Psychiatric / Social Services Teams can assist both yourself and your son in a very pro-active manner. Sadly,realising your very great concern and love for your son, plus the manner in which he feels that he is an ‘outsider’ ( and as such does not want any help!!) I cannot suggest how in the USA, or your State you can gain the assistance that you most certainly require.

  3. Greetings! Very helpful advice within this post! It’s the little changes that
    make the largest changes. Many thanks for sharing!

  4. Sam says:

    Oh God, I need help.

    I feel dummer by the second! I canpt stay focus, I know things but I can´t recall them on spot.or am to distracted to respond. My head is always on the crowd, I mess up dates, words, obligations, I live in fear of losing my job for one monumental mess up of these kind. I live in constant unhapiness with my body, I live in constant fear of loosing my family, I cant read, or write or do a task wothou deviating 10 minutes later to something else. I keep thinking of things that I have no business thinking about; i feel I am going insane. loony bin insane. I am with a psychologist but I think she is a fake because she hasn´t said anything useful. I am snappy, or depressed, or just uninterested at times. Sometimes I feel mad, sad, happy, God, I don´t know what to do.

  5. Jem says:

    It has only just occurred to me in the last few days that there is a possibility I may suffer from adult ADHD. I had never even heard of the term before until I have become so embarrassed at my lack of social skills lately that I’ve felt compelled to look into what could be affecting me. I just turned 31, I have been diagnosed with depression, anxiety, OCD and sometimes feared that I am bipolar but this has described everything I think and feel exactly, to the letter. Thank you for putting this in a way that is relatable. You have helped me, and I’m sure many others, in a way you’ll never know. Well done for verbalising this confusing, overlooked illness and thank you. It’s good to know I’m not just bonkers.

    • Chris says:

      Be sure which you are in terms of self-diagnosis, There is in my opinion, a great deal of a difference between ‘Attention Deficeit Disorder’ and ‘Attention Deficeit Hyperactive Disorder’. Myself? I’m the former, at 67yrs old there has never been anything hyperactive about my syndrome.

  6. Melanie says:

    Hey guys, um…halp please? I need reassurance.

    If I could explain how my brain feels, I would say that it has millions of hands. They are reaching outward and grabbing all of the stimulus or interesting information out there. I often go on journeys of introspection too which can be insightful and rich but very hard to shake, making day – to – day socializing feel forced and difficult.

    This makes me anxious, and has made it hard to maintain relationships, because one day I might feel great and able to connect with someone, and then on another occasion I won’t be present, I’ll emotionally disconnect. (I’m either worrying perpetually about something I haven’t dealt with yet, analyzing something to death, trying to uncover the meaning of life, and then playing out the future novels I want to write in my imagination.) My thoughts jump around organically but this doesn’t seem to serve me very well in adult-world. I feel socially inept and too drained to interact, but I still crave the sense of security that comes with close relationships. In my teens I was diagnosed with depression and social anxiety. But not ADD, which…probably CAUSED those other things.

    When I set myself a task, such as catching the bus on time, I will find ten other little things to amuse me on the way of completing said task, and 50% of the time I will miss that bus. 40%, I’ll be running out just as it approaches my stop.
    Also painful indecisiveness (From which potential love interest to pursue down to which brand of yoghurt to buy…with regrets!!), like Christine mentioned a war between the two sides of the brain, have only been getting worse as I mature and am handed more responsibilities. I’m 19 going on 20.

    There’s also chronic tiredness which worsens in the afternoon. Some issues remaining asleep and calming the mind/or the restless body. I don’t know how common this chronic fatigue feeling is among people with ADD, is or if it is only a product of my Iron deficiency and my hypoglycemia (which I have started to treat). They only appeared two years ago along with compounding fatigue, like my body is stressing out with the pressures of adulthood, and not working as well as it used to. However, the ADD symptoms have been present all my life. My doc wants me on anti depressants because I have a family history, and it would explain my concentration issues, but I don’t think depression is my problem here.

    Could ADD be causing my tiredness and illnesses?

    • Chris says:

      This ‘fatigue’ amongst ADD-ers is interesting. I worked for 12-years in Advertising as a Creative Director, a ‘dream’ job as it involved ‘dreaming-up’ new ideas for campaigns every day,… and you got paid for it! I was in my 20′s & early 30′s around this time. However, during very intense periods of work, where my brain was hyper-functioning all day, I ‘d often seriously begin to contemplate walking out to my car and crawling onto the rear-seat for a long sleep. Alternatively, I’d try to plan exactly what steps I could take to create a completely sound insulated and light free bedroom where I could sleep uninterrupted for 24hrs! In fact one day after returning from the Commissary after lunch, I happened to notice the Medical-room door open and feeling particularly ‘fatigued’, I lay on the ‘couch’ in there and immediately fell asleep! Being woken by the nurse after she returned about 30mins later! Obviously, I had to tell her ‘I’d been feeling ‘ill’, but was now a lot better, then dashed-off back to my desk. That ‘fatigue’ thing went on for years, despite which, I won several highly-regardsd industry awards for my work

  7. Dean says:

    I read this forum and feel everything on this list and the peoples comments relate to me. I was from the age of 5 taken all across the nation (no not America) to get diagnosed. I figured going into adult years it would be gone, though it fires up. In fact, I had disregarded it so that I infact forgot I was diagnosed. I had tried over 11 different medications and nothing really seemed to work.The constant questioning life and it’s purpose, leaving things to the last minute. I had two assignments due for uni that I couldn’t bring myself to start and 4 hours before they are due I slammed them both. I think the only thing that keeps me insane is my creativity to write, perform and produce music though I still feel uncomfortable with performing I just hide it.
    I couldn’t possibly describe each and every symptom people have mentioned that I show almost all of. I find myself depressed often and not being able to cope with things. My ability to make decisions is almost impossible. Something from making a purchase to picking a movie to watch or game to play.

  8. kagiso says:

    hi guys

    I also think i can relate to all of these symptoms
    Im 23 yrs of age this year and I think i was diagnosed with it when i was still a chaana, since grade 10
    Ive always wanted to make an impression to all my fake matesI sometimes dont think straight, most of the time im day dreaming, it gets worse, we talking about not remembering what i just said a minute ago, sometimes i feel too happy or too sad, never in the middle, I also never visit people, i prefer my own company even when its not due, i sometimes get pissed over minor issues, basicly very dramatic, today i hade a very sad moment which lasted for hours, even thought that i should just die, maybe somehow theres peace in heaven….. I really need help

    • Chris says:

      Kagiso,

      I think you cupped your hands around you’re mouth and screamed a real cry for assistance there. I honestly know what that feels like.

      Unfortunately, I don’t think your head was in exactly the right place to make such a request. However, once you are feeling calm and would like to push this subject of ADD on a tad, then I for one as a fellow-sufferer would be very pleased to offer some advice , if I possibly can,

      Hang in there.

      Chris

  9. Matthew says:

    I do not know if I have ADD or not, but I do have a lot of the mentioned symptoms. I’m 27 years old. I’ve always had a hard time comprehending matter in school. Reading and text books were never my cup of tea. I’d start reading and would either zone out or get side tracked and distracted. I’m currently very disorganized. I tend to try to write things down but never can seem to stay motivated to follow through. I work at a convince store and I’m decent with money. But when it comes to stocking and trash and what not. I tend to wait till I’m running out of time just to try to focus on the tasks at hand. But in the end I tend jump around and tackle everything as I see it and nothing tends to get done 100% of the way. When I’m interacting with the customers I tend to have repeat to them what they want because my mind just stops and I can’t quite process what they are saying. I’m consistently late, procrastinate till the last second to leave, and speed to work. When I’m with my wife, I tend to say things inappropriately without thinking. If she tells me we have a problem and I don’t have an answer, I tend to get silent to the point she thinks I’m not listening. But I fear saying the wrong thing to the point I won’t say anything at all. I need to go back to school and start a career, But I’ve been putting it off due to fear of failure. And disappointment from my family. Are these symptoms of ADD or some other cause? does anyone have any advice?

  10. Tony Barron says:

    I totally sympathized with Connie. I have had my life destroyed because of ADD and not knowing it till last few months ago. I am nearly 60 years old. I needed to know has anyone tried meditation and if so what was the outcome?

    • Mary says:

      Hi there,

      I have not tried meditation but I am thinking about it. I only found out a few years ago that I have ADHD. I am also 60. I am successful professionally and have two adult children that mean the world to me. My ex split probably because of my ADHA and three yeas later I still hurt. Trying to move forward. I wish you the best.

  11. Connie says:

    Hi
    I feel like I can relate to almost all of the above, but also do not want others to feel as if I am using this as an excuse to cover up for what might just be apparent laziness.

    So please help me out.

    I have a great tendency to day dream. My teachers reports never failed to mention this. I have always been an underachiever, and my marks at school were always below average despite my being aware that I could do much much much better. Especially in the case where I completed assignments that received a lot of praise but suspicion from teachers. I am constantly regretful of my failures and allow this guilt to overwhelm me at different times, and allow it to completely undermine my confidence.
    I would often overstretch work deadlines, and have to get extensions from teachers through fibbing. And in other cases just complete the task the night before super alert of the pressure. Or in extreme cases brush away the task altogether, just so that I could dismiss any form of responsibility and with that stress.
    I am underconfident in all my talents and abilities and have not been able to progress as such in any of them from day one.

    I tear up little bits of paper when I am talking to someone, which I am aware of now and can stop.
    I am constantly restless, constantly full of ideas, and whats more distressful,
    I can sit for weeks in my room without doing or completing a single task, all because as soon as I think of a task I get overwhelmed with the though of how I should ‘organize’ it into my day to day routine. And then get distracted by all the other millions of goals I have set in my head, and how I might go about organising those into my life. This all happens to the point where I am so distressed I turn to something addictive which might help me relieve my stress, like social media, or sex even. To the point where I can spend hours and hours trying to forget everything that I was worried or stressed about.

    I’ve gotten to the point where my mind feels so overwhelmed I have folders for absolutely everything. The only way I feel like I can organize things is if I categorize everything and have to do lists for everything and record everything! And all this overwhelms me even more.

    I always read the end of a book before reading the book or read the sypnopsis for a a series or movie before actually watching it. I can’t stand not knowing what happens, and I constantly skip over pages just to get the main gist of each twist.

    I have so much more to say but hopefully you can help me identify what I might be suffering from. Because I honestly do suffer alot from it. But my dad dismisses it for laziness so I dont try explain to him.

    Even now I have been trying to focus on a task but am on this site typing to you.

    • Chris says:

      Ok Connie,

      It’s odds-on that you are undiagnosed with ADD (remember this, as most people have only heard of ADHD
      which has differing symptoms) It is not an illness it is a syndrome, drugs or medication do not really help, the only mask your problems.

      I don’t know how old you are, but your problems at school and whilst spending time alone echo my own, to almost an exactitude and I am now 66-yrs old! mild addictions such as coffee, or nicotine are fairly common with ADD-ers, as is ‘promiscuity’ or sexual activity (Remember I survived the swingin’ 1960′s!!)

      I was not diagnosed until my early 60′s so it was too late really, for me to alter many things about my life so my advice would be to to purchase a guide-book thru’ Amazon. One that clearly explains what ADD involves and how you may try to counteract it’s effects upon your life.

      On the shelf above my desk is ‘ADD-Friendly ways to Organise your Life’ by Kolberg & Nadeau. Sounds dull, even corny, but it’s not. It makes things abundantly clear as how you might combat negative areas of your thinking and daily life. It’s so clear and comprehensive that if you showed it to your Dad, even he might begin to u/stand that you are not lazy, crazy or stupid.

      In fact he might be able to help, because ADD-ers do benefit from a friend or loved-one who will ‘bully’ us into completing tasks, i.e ‘Did you pay that bill?, ‘Have you made that appointment?, ‘Don’t you think you should wash-up those dishes?’ etc, etc.

      Any other questions, just ask. But don’t despair.

  12. Worried for a colleague says:

    Hi,
    I have a colleague, that always seems confused. He has trouble concentrating and carrying out easy tasks.
    He has great difficulty with eye contact. Starts a sentence only to stop mid word and change direction, sometimes returning to his original track.
    I thought it was caused by lack of relaxing time as he travels for 2 hours to and from the office by rail and subway ( no we are not in the USA ) ;O)

    But after seeing this, I now wonder.
    I really like this guy and really want to help him succeed in his job and life. I need advice on how to approach him and suggest that he seek medical diagnosis

    Please Please help me help him.

  13. s. bucky says:

    This is the most comprehensive, descriptive and well articulated list of symptoms that I have ever seen. Great work and many thanks.

  14. Luke says:

    Wow. I’ve considered that ADHD might be my problem in the past but dismissed it but now, following a few comments from friends and family members, it seems that this is definitely ‘me’. I’d never heard of hyperfocus but that explains everything. I’ll be making a doctor’s appointment ASAP. It’s so frustrating that I’ve spent years of my life being called a lazy procrastinator but this all makes sense now.

    Thanks very, very much for this immensely helpful article!

  15. Christine says:

    I’m actually posting this comment sat in the middle of my 5 year old sons bedroom, surround by chaos! I started to clean it up, then decided I would try and organise a few things, at the same time I got consumed in a marvel comic, then looked at the room in front of me, nuh-uh…. I need something else to do…. This always, always happens. I always start something, get distracted be everything else and then realise I’ve created more for myself and then lose motivation…. Has been a big issue from a really young age. I’m socially awkward. I have periods where I have to be very social, then times where I can’t even say hello to work colleagues…. I’m currently in that phase at the moment… It’s tough! I often question life and my purpose in it. My partner gets a little frustrated with how all over the place I am. I actually relate to a lot of this up here… And then some! I absolutely hate when people make promises and don’t keep them! Plus, if someone says they’re calling over at a certain time I wait and watch and even one minute over I start getting ancy, I hate disorder but I’m so unorganised. It’s like living in the land of limbo, like a war of the 2 sides of the brain. I am yet to even consider talking to a doc for fear of being told I’m craxy or it’s all in my head. Strangely, my son is well balanced and very organised!!

    • Chris says:

      Hi Christine,

      A totally typical scenario in an ADD-er’s life and one I’m well acquainted with.

      If I have a design project on for a client, I ‘ll glibly say, “..you can have the proposals in a week”. However, I don’t actually start them until maybe the day before that deadline and most times am up all night finishing them off ready for presentation the next day. Working for myself, I know I am going to do it this way nearly every time, but somehow I simply cannot motivate myself to commence work any earlier. It’s almost as though I’m feeding off the adrenaline generated by ‘panic’, in order to produce an amazing result.

      However, let the client ‘mess’ with my proposal, or suggest an alternative approach and I immediately
      begin to regard them as hostile, thereafter simply going through the motions of completing their project with little or no enthusiasm. It’s almost as though my brain will not tolerate criticism or changes in respect of my work, yet in other areas of my life I’m totally amenable, or even self-deprecatory in my sense of humour.

    • Melanie says:

      It is actually very frustrating, having finally stumbled upon this website, and it makes me kind of angry to think I have been living with this all my life misdiagnosed. Through the therapists, teachers, family, bosses and colleges trying to put a label to my oddity, I’ve lost jobs – three in fast food and one in childcare- and thought to myself…why is this so hard for me? I just found it really stressful to keep up to everyone’s standards and I would never quite feel settled in – procedure wise or socially. I was told I was too laid back about the way I did things, too slow in peak periods, and I often mixed up my orders. In my first real job, I was accused of being lazy and that really hit a nerve. I cried on job and was never given another shift. Another boss said I wasn’t getting shifts because, bluntly, I “don’t learn”, even though I was always eager to actively help, or try to be trained for new roles…my brain would get confused or my actions would seem too complacent. I think unconventionally and ‘why not this other way’ instead of why…which is great if, you know, you’re like an artist or something. It doesn’t get you anywhere in fast food though.

      My dad says it’s normal for a child to daydream and be a bit scattered, but that I never grew out of it. However, I was always driven, optimistic and diligent.
      The odd thing is that I was a high achiever in high school in all subjects except math, (because math to me was pointless and boring). If the information was interesting or relevant, I would go into hyper-focus and I’d thrive, surpassing most of my peers and ranking in the top of my grade.

  16. Amber says:

    I am having trouble lately at work with managers and customers saying I am just ” all over the place” I have a very hard time focusing on just one task led alone picking a task. My husband says I am very impulsive and don’t care. That is of course in my option not true! I constantly feel like I try to ” out talk / over talk/ interrupt ” take your pick. I currently came across this blog and immediately was shocked and almost upset. Half the time I feel like people think I’m nuts cuse of my constant jibber jabber I actually had one person say they don’t want to work with me because I make them stressed out ! How do I get medication??? My doctors don’t ever just give u what u think u need???

    • Chris says:

      Hi Amber,

      I seem to think by what you describe, that there may be traces of ADHD present as opposed to ADD, the H of course referring to ‘Hyperactive’, which basically is when your mind feels as though it’s going in several directions at once and fails to settle on one item as a subject of concentration or tasking. This is somewhat easier to treat than ADD, though ask fully about the side-effects of any medication that you may be prescribed by your healthcare-professional.

      Chris

  17. MATA says:

    After my break up, I sat in my bed all day, every day. I cried constantly I actually started to Google ways to get over a broken heart, and that’s when I found your email I just wanted to thank you so much for your help. It has gotten me through a lot, and I appreciate it immensely thank you for bringing my husband back to me and our kids thank you you are truly a blessing.

    • Chris says:

      Mata,

      Are you saying that it was un-diagnosed ADD in yourself, that possibly led to the temporary break-up of your marriage? Have the many postings and analysis of symptoms on this web-forum made things a little clearer
      in respect of your daily life and your behaviour within it?

  18. kelly Watson says:

    Ive been struggling with ADD all my life. Now into my adulthood its only become worse. It affects every aspect of my life and is very frustrating. Its really agravating to see ignorant people say this disorder does not exist. How about struggling in my shoes everyday, and then try and tell me its excuses. Maybe you did or didnt have it as a child, or maybe you grew out of it as some people do. However, those of us who carry it into our adulthood find it more difficult than having it as a child. Consider yourself blessed to be able to have out grown it but, try and be a little less arrogant when you dismiss something that you apparently have no clue on the effects. I would be so greatful if I could have out grown this, maybe now that you have, you could work on out growing your ignorance.

    • Chris says:

      Kelly,

      Like I said to Skye, be calm! It would appear that the very negative posting from Abby has opened a gate, i.e. for all manner of ADD ‘frustration’ to flood forth. Let’s face it, Abby probably realised that such a posting would create such reaction, so don’t be baited as it will only make you feel worse about yourself.

      I feel that the purpose of this forum, would be better directed (by those of us who admit how debilitating our ‘syndrome’ can be in adult life), at how we cope, and the exchange of information that may assist in making the pattern of our daily-lives a tad easier.

      For instance, I’m always making ‘notes’ on scraps of paper, or in a small note-book that I keep to hand. These notes-to-myself can be things to do, additions of bills-to-pay, or successive timings of periods I allow to complete various tasks throughout a particular day so I can stay ‘on track’.

      I fully realise that these ‘notes’ are likely to be seen by others, who may be puzzled by these ‘odd’ scribblings, so they are often written in a sort of personal ‘code’….laughs! Nevertheless they do help, that is up until the point, where I realise that i can’t recall where I’ve left the notebook!

      Anyone else do this?

      • Laura says:

        I know just what you mean about your notes. I often will write people’s numbers down on a sticky note when listening to voicemails at work and forget to put the name of the person. 2 hours later i cannot for the life of me remember who’s number it was so i just have to trash it.

  19. Abby says:

    This is crazy. ADD is a made up over diagnosed illness. Simply put ADD is a excuse for people that may have a below average attention span. I was “diagnosed” with ADD and am not medicated for it. I have a great job, I’m extremely successful because i trained myself to be more attentive and organized.. its time to get off your pitty pot

    • Chris says:

      ADD is not an illness it is a syndrome. One that has differing levels of effect upon the individual who suffers from it. In your own case, the word ‘diagnosis’ does not fully convey just how it manifested itself within your daily-life, prior to you managing to discipline yourself into a more organised framework.

      That’s the whole point, an ADD-er individual can resolve to become more attentive, more organised and fully attentive on Day1, yet a mere ‘slip’ of attention on Day 2. can immediately and negatively divert that resolve into a meltdown situation, leading to feelings of failure, low-mood and a lack of self-worth. And so it goes on throughout their whole lives.

    • Skye says:

      Wtf maybe it was a wrong diagnoses ever thought of that? Got to say there defiantly something wrong with you it’s called jerk. I’ve never been diagnosed with add but I suffer from a lot the same as mentioned above, my life is so unorganised and my thought race so much it makes me tired. I am the biggest precrasinator tho. I don’t mean to be and when I do have energy I end up starting about 20 tasks yet hardly ever finish one. I isolate my self but don’t know why , I have hardly any friends and I try not too make new ones as I get hurt to easy . So much more but I’ll leave it at that so Abby it’s a pitty your so judgemental And sorry but from the sound of your post I think you need to pull your finger out your arse and stop walking around wit your nose in the air , you sound so up ya self I reckon I’d crack ya one after 10 minutes of talking to u . Any way everyone have a good day.

      • Chris says:

        Hi Skye,

        Hey! Calm down, take it easy. Your frustration at what appears to be a very negative, un-empathetic comment by Abby in relation to a syndrome that is obviously affecting your own daily life, is somewhat understandable but,…keep hold of your dignity and don’t be provoked by such comments.

        The ‘tiredness’ you speak of is fairly common, your brain becomes over-revved in terms of the many and varying thought patterns that are constantly going on within it.

        We may feel that we are concealing this process from others, but gradually those around us pick-up on it and begin to regard it as ‘odd’ behaviour. As such, we are treated slightly different by our contemporaries, even more so as children, after teachers single you out for being, ‘slow’, ‘inattentive’ or disorganised. This situation, almost legitimises you as being a constant target for negative comment, even social criticism by class-mates or fellow-students.

        The result being, that you withdraw from making a wide circle of friends and associate with only one or two people that you may feel wholly, trustingly comfortable with. On the other hand, you may feel that you will do almost anything to ‘gain favour’, or friendship from others.

        So much so, you gradually begin to understand that you are being taken advantage of, because without realising it, you’ve so obviously ‘telegraphed’ this need to be accepted by others. You see that’s the other thing, ADD-ers don’t have the inclination to do ‘devious’, or manipulation, i.e. to those they come into contact with. However, they can easily become the victims of those who do, and once this has happened a few times, ADD-ers tend to withdraw into their own little corner whenever possible.

        Stay cool Skye, you’re amongst friends!

    • Jason says:

      Abby,
      I will do my best to refrain from criticizing your viewpoint, but must kindly remind you that everything in life is not relative to your own perception. ADD is a well documented condition that can generally be managed through a combination of cognitive therapy, structure, and medication. In your particular situation, you were lucky enough overcome your deficit through structure and cognitive therapy alone. However, not all conditions are uniform for every individual out there. Though the diagnosis may be somewhat vague, many medical conditions contain ambiguous literature within their description. Consider something as vague as having a headache…surely you’ve had a headache at some point in your life. While you had the headache you most likely considered taking, or not taking acetamiophen or seeking some measure to help rectify the situation. Even if you did not actively partake in a solution to ease the headache, your cognitive abilities were impacted and undermined by its mere presense. ADD is not an excuse, rather a description of a cognitive state of being. Whether or not you believe in its existence is not important. What is important, is recognizing that many of these individuals have a better life after receiving treatment to some extent. Whether this is merely a placebo at work or they really do fall under the guidelines of ADD, is a moot point. People are allowed to seek treatment for a perceived disability…if treatment leads to an increase in the quality of one’s life, isn’t that all that should matter? Individuals can teach themselves tricks to navigate through the waters, but ultimately they may still be swimming against the tide. What is the point of putting in all of that extra effort when there have been tools specifically developed to aid in this regard?

      • Chris says:

        An expansive overview Jason, but after all, we only have Abby’s word for what he (or she) claims in their posting. It may be a complete ‘vexatious’ fabrication.

  20. ACG says:

    I want to thank the 66 year old gentleman who talked about his journey through life with ADD. My husband has been undiagnosed, but has all the signs and symptoms of ADD. I don’t know what to do to encourge him to get help. I am talking to others who may be able to talk to him and help him.

    • Chris says:

      I quite understand the difficult position you may be in with regards to your husband.

      Subsequent to my own self-diagnosis I took great comfort in the fact that once I was made fully aware of my attention ‘weaknesses’ and how it manifested itself to others, i.e the lack of eye-contact (people immediately think you’re lying, or shifty), or ‘overtalking’ in conversations/meetings, I was able to go someway toward attempting to avoid that behaviour. You do not mention your husband’s age, but if he has a substantial period of his career or working life ahead of him, then I would thoroughly recommend you purchase an ADD ‘self-help’ book, as I did. It will help him.

      These are valuable, in as much as they provide an immediate identification of the symptoms and difficulties of an ADD sufferer, whilst also going a long way to encouraging the individual to believe “your problems ain’t your fault and never have been…so stop worrying”. This then increases self-esteem, almost to the point that you feel you are a member of an ‘exclusive club’!

      It’s this lack of comprehension about yourself and your failures, gnawing away at you on a daily basis, that makes the condition so difficult at times, i.e. when you are un-diagnosed. Today, I now inform all my pals of my condition and am not beyond asking them to repeat what they may have just said to me, if I find my concentration wanders.

      Knowledge, as they say, is power. Whilst most of these books (try Amazon) confer ADD self-help information in a relaxed, informative manner, there is one in particular that has a very pertinent book-title, that will surely make any prospective ADD-er sit right up and pay attention, it is:

      “You mean I’m not Lazy, Stupid or Crazy’.

      Undoubtedly, words that most ADD-ers will have experienced being levelled at them at various stages of their lives (e.g. my own school-reports of the 1950′s). I certainly hope this advice helps and wish both you and your husband a very happy future.

  21. Chris says:

    I am 66 yrs of age. I was an only child, my school-reports thru’ years 1-12 are testimony to the fact I had undiagnosed ADD throughout that whole of that time. This being the 1950′s-early 60′s, Child-psychology was barely understood, or even known about, by teachers or parents.

    My artistic talent was obvious from a young age and I eventually went to art-college at age 17, leaving 2-years later because I found the teaching / studying process ‘utterly boring’.

    I then succeeded in obtaining a job as a junior-designer in an Advertising Agency which I found totally fulfilling and was rapidly promoted as a result of winning several awards for my work. My boss then got me on a 3-year part time Business degree-course. At age 25 on the very eve of my final-exams my mother, with whom I was very close, suddenly died of a heart-attack. She was just 48yrs old.

    In a state of grief and shock, I inevitably failed the exams and because my father had taken my mother’s death badly, I elected to stay in my home city in order to be close to him rather than move on as I’d planned on doing after my finals . As a result, I had to turn down a very lucrative and important creative-director’s post I was ‘headhunted’ for by a major London Advertising Agency.

    At this point my ‘attitudes’ seemed to change, I started to miss days at work, turn up late and display an overall aura of bored disengagement. I could never find files and each day my desk became a complete monument to disorder. Whilst I did move-on to other senior positions in Advertising agencies, by age 32 I began to develop episodes of low-mood and desperately wanted to do something completely different. Very possibly because by then I found the daily creative-processes required in my job, had begun to lack any further stimulus for me.

    My paternal grandfather had left me a small legacy which I then invested in a commercial interior-design business with a young honours-graduate. We specialised in Bars & Restaurants for just two years, the ‘unofficial’ partnership being dissolved after his gambling habit became intolerable. By this time, I had proven that I also had a talent for this type of design and continued operating the business on my own.

    This, in retrospect was the worst move I could have ever made, as I then began to experience all the negative aspects of ADD in terms of disorganisation and lack of personal discipline (see above No’s 8-14) none of which I understood about myself or managed to control. As a result, I never made enough money to purchase a home of my own, or even marry, though I had several disastrous relationships. At the same time, I again won several prestigious awards for my work, which I always seemed to miss the opportunity to capitalise on, or even publicise.

    At age 53 I met a woman who was a Snr. Psychiatric Nurse and 14yrs my junior. We had an incredibly wonderful 5-years together before it became apparent that she was suffering from work-related depression and had clandestinely begun to self-medicate with alcohol. Eventually, she had to take ‘leave of absence’ from her work for 2yrs, during which time I could barely leave the house. A situation which greatly impacted my workloads, though I carried on attending to her medication regimen and other needs, whilst at the same time restoring a small cottage we had purchased together,… in her name, though I paid the mortgage.

    After 2-years absence from work her Hospital-management offered my partner a fantastic pension deal in terms of her 30year career. Tragically, within a week of her acceptance of this deal and without signing the documentation, she died of a cerebral aneurysm. She was just 48yrs old, I was by then 61yrs old.

    The result of my partners death was that owing to the fact that she had a 24yr old daughter from a previous relationship, her claim on the property was greater, it being in her mother’s name. There was no will or survivor pension available and until the probate was settled (it took 2 years) our bank-account was frozen. I also then discovered that my partner (always an organised person) had not signed the mortgage protection insurance when we purchased the house!!

    Mentally, this was beyond merely a ‘personal tragedy’ to myself as the combination of grief and financial ruination allowed nearly all the ADD symptoms to fully manifest themselves in myself on a daily basis. My coping-skills became almost non-existent, especially as this was 2008 and the Design, Architectural and Construction industries were all by then plunging into recession. Commissions had therefore begun to dry up and utter panic as to my future income had begun to set in.

    It was as I cleared my late-partners bookshelf (when the house was being sold), and in a moment of typical ADD diversion, that I began to read a book marked ADHD / ADD. It was only then, that I realised that I’d been suffering from this syndrome all my life. In fact, I was so stunned at just exactly how specific the symptoms were, or had been to my own life, that I ordered on-line another book of my own dealing with the subject in order to cross-reference.

    So, at 66 yrs old I now know why my life never really turned out as I’d hoped. many of my old-friends and colleagues became very successful as well as having families, or what might be termed ‘normal ‘ lives. Now and again, as I’m attending the odd social evening in the company of some of these people from my past, someone will inevitably say, ” We always thought that you’d be the most financially successful of us all… and could never understand what happened?”

    At least I can now say to myself with some understanding, ” I do”

    My Dad? Well he married again, did well at business and is still alive and well, at the grand-old age of 96. I don’t see very much of him these days. I think it’s possibly because I feel such an abject failure and really don’t want to see that fact reflected in his eyes.

    .

  22. It is our outlook in out conduct often changes our viewpoint. Sometimes this alteration is good and sometimes bad but it is our viewpoint that exerts the most control the way we feel.

  23. Justin Howell says:

    I always knew I was not quite right in the head. And people have always made fun of me and talked about me when I’m right next to them. I have all 18 symptoms and it is affecting my life. One of my main problems is that I become so absent minded when I’m around people and coworkers. I made a kid cry today…Christmas eve. His father, my coworker, had to leave and I could tell he was pissed. I think my Dr has me on the wrong meds…venlafazine which is generic for effexor.

  24. Hisham says:

    Oh wow!! This described me so perfectly, every point in here describes my whole life to a T!

    My whole life I’ve always heard: “ADD is just an excuse, you are just being lazy, just sit down and focus! Just do it! Stop being melodramatic”
    Well, I CAN’T!!! I’ve suffered from this my whole life, and the only way I was able to get through school and college is because I pick things up quickly, so I read something once, and once its digested its in my head. I can’t study for more than a few hours a day at the most, and that’s if I spent the whole day in my room trying to force myself to study, while battling my anxiety and loss of focus!

    I hate going out and being in large crowds (even though I’m quite popular socially and -knock on wood – quite loved – although I really had to work hard on it), every second I’m out of the house I’m uncomfortable, hating every minute of it, and ALL the time, I’m only dreaming of the end of the day when I can go back to my home and put on a documentary or a short TV Show (movies can easily bore me because of the running time), light a joint, then I’m in heaven!!
    I hate being in relationships, and I drive all my girlfriends absolutely bonkers, because I simply can’t commit, no matter how fantastic she is! I drive like a maniac and often people who are in my passenger seat end up throwing up even when no alcohol was involved.

    • Hisham says:

      Just to add, the whole reason I’m here in the first place was because I was trying to finish my work for the day, but I’m moving at an unbelievably slow pace, which lead me to think of my ADD, which started a furious search on the net for ADD, which led me here, which led me to make these comments, and now I’ve wasted 2 hours!!!

  25. jodie says:

    if I don’t have a family doctor and I have pretty much all these symptoms how would I go about getting diagnosed with ADD and getting the proper treatment and medication if no doctor in my home town that I am living in wont see me they all say they’re not accepting new patients and ive been back for almost a year now

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