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ADHD Adults: Mysteries of Unrealized Potential and Satisfaction

Although many adults suffer symptoms of ADHD, many are undiagnosed. They suffer impulsivity, restlessness, poor memory, and disorganization.

ADHD Adults: What’s the problem?
ADHD adults are in the news almost daily. Questions such as “Isn’t ADHD just a cop-out for an adult who is lazy?” or “We all have some problems with attention at one time or another—so, what’s the big deal?” or “Is there really such a thing as Adult ADHD?” are bandied about on talk shows, in newspapers, and at parties.

“Yes!” is the answer to the last question. There is such thing as Adult ADHD. It’s not just a cop-out for anyone who is lazy. In fact, people with ADHD often work harder meet their responsibilities at home and at work. Although there is no blood test for ADHD, you can find out whether you have it through careful neuropsychological evaluations.

Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is considered a neurological disorder. The symptoms are long-standing, pervasive, and chronic. Functionally, the symptoms present significant barriers to an adult’s performance and social relationships at work, home, and in graduate or professional school. ADHD occurs in adults with average or above average intelligence that are chronically unable to perform up to expected levels. They can’t focus on their work, are slow to begin and complete tasks, keep in mind what they have heard or read, and are disorganized. The term Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) applies to a person who experiences the symptoms of ADHD, except for hyperactivity or impulsiveness.

Adult ADHD and Executive Function Impairment
Recent research on the brain has identified regions in the prefrontal cortex that are smaller or less active than normal in people with ADHD. It is this area that is responsible for executive functions. Just as a conductor of a symphony directs the flow of music, the pre frontal cortex houses the “wiring” to help humans set goals, devise strategies, adapt, and integrate actions.

“Executive functioning” refers to a set of mental skills dedicated to managing your attention, as well as integrating your attention with other critical thinking skills. These skills affect your:

Impulse control
Emotional regulation
Organization and planning
Problem solving
Time awareness
Overall mental flexibili

ADHD adults experience distraction, forgetfulness, and disorganization. It puts them at a disadvantage in our distraction-driven society. Many bright, competent individuals who suffer from these symptoms have compensated for them – until their lives become too complicated. The symptoms then present insurmountable barriers to getting promoted, staying married, or fulfilling their roles as parents.

ADHD in Adults: Causes and Prevalence
There is a tendency for ADHD to be genetic. In fact, many adults discover their ADHD after the diagnosis of their children. (

Approximately 4% of American adults deal with ADHD symptoms on a daily basis. Males are almost three times more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD than females. During their lifetimes, 12.9% of men will be diagnosed with the attention disorder, while just 4.9% of women will be. (

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ADHD Duel Diagnosis: ADHD and Giftedness
William was one of those kids who breezed through f public school with his great brain. He had a few academic close calls as a college undergrad, but he always pulled it off in the end. He completed his MBA at the top of his class at an extremely competitive university. Sure, there were a few too many all-nighters and more than one plea to a professor for an extension on a late assignment. But his grades were so high and his in-class discourse so articulate, that he graduated with glowing recommendations and a very promising, entry-level job.

His position included a variety of responsibilities, deadlines set in stone, and high expectations for him to develop into a corporate leader. He tried to cover all his bases, but his past habits didn’t work anymore. He was feeling rushed and overwhelmed. William began experiencing attention slip-ups like lost keys, missed appointments, and overdue monthly statements. In spite of these difficulties, his keen analytical mind, eloquence, and charm helped him rise through the ranks of the firm.

As time went on, his work/life responsibilities increased. Married with two children and required to travel to meetings, he didn’t have the time or energy to fix his mistakes and mishaps. Although respected as an “idea generator,” William often failed to complete the administrative aspects of his job. He procrastinated and then had to spend long hours at night trying to bring his technical reports up the level everyone “knew he was capable of.” His image became increasingly tarnished.

William is a paradox to those with whom he works or lives. On one hand, he has great intellectual gifts. He’s creative and analytical. On the other hand, his performance is inconsistent. He avoids tasks that demand sustained mental effort unless they are in his areas of strength, makes careless mistakes (especially when rushed), and misses deadlines. William exhibits the classic symptoms of adults with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Inattentive type.

William is gifted with a glitch: he is extremely intelligent but also evidences a pattern of chronic difficulties in successfully executing his work/life responsibilities. He has ADHD and gifted, that is twice exceptional. Surprisingly, there are many bright, well-trained professionals like William whose work performance is under par and unexplained. Although ADHD is recognized in children and adolescents, it is often missed or ignored in the adult population.

Adult ADHD Problems
Adults with ADHD are more prone to change jobs, perform poorly, and be less happy with their jobs. They are observed to get more speeding tickets, have their licenses suspended, or be involved in crashes. Many have increased alcohol or drug use. Adults with ADHD more often experience marital problems, separations, divorces, and multiple marriages.

If an average or above-average person performs in an inconsistent manner and can’t seem to manage time and tasks, consider ADHD screening. Contact a physician, psychologist or other professional to do so. Once diagnosed and treated for ADHD, adults can better take advantage of their intellectual gifts while circumventing or dealing with their vulnerabilities.

ADHD adults in your life? Questions about adult ADHD? Contact or go to for information or a complimentary chat.