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Adult ADHD

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, or ADHD, affects approximately 5% of children and 2.5% of these will carry ADHD into their adult life. Some of these adults may have been diagnosed at a young age whilst others find out about their condition later on in life. Adult ADHD  affects men and women equally.


Adult ADHD Symptoms

Individuals with ADHD tend to have difficulties with:

  • Following directions
  • Information recall
  • Concentration
  • Organisational skills
  • Time management

Untreated ADHD can cause numerous mental and physical problems. It may put a strain on relationships and cause difficulties in many aspects of life. It is important to recognise the signs of adult ADHD so you can get proper treatment.

Adult ADHD often co-exists with or presents itself into the following characteristics:

  • Anxiety
  • Chronic boredom
  • Chronic lateness and forgetfulness
  • Depression
  • Trouble concentrating when reading
  • Trouble controlling anger
  • Problems at work
  • Impulsiveness
  • Low tolerance for frustration
  • Low self-esteem
  • Mood swings
  • Poor organization skills
  • Procrastination
  • Relationship problems
  • Substance abuse or addiction
  • Low motivation

Whilst some individuals may be affected by the above a lot, others may not be experiencing any of the above. The above characteristics can be happening all of the time or just depend on the situation.

No two people with ADHD are exactly alike. If you have ADHD, you may be able to concentrate if you are interested in or excited about what you are doing. But some people with ADHD have trouble focusing under any circumstances. Some people look for stimulation, but others avoid it. Plus, some people with ADHD may be withdrawn and antisocial. Others may be very social and go from one relationship to the next.

The exact causes of adult attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are unknown. Whilst there is no laboratory test to diagnose ADHD, scientific behavioural assessment measures are currently used to diagnose the condition. 

Causes of ADHD

Many factors can contribute towards ADHD; genes, environment and brain injury. There is no single cause to the condition, but it is known that a person with ADHD is four times as likely to have a relative who was also diagnosed with ADHD. Currently, researchers are investigating various genes, particularly ones involved with the brain chemical dopamine. People with ADHD seem to have lower levels of dopamine in the brain.

Some studies also suggest that a scarcity of omega-3 fatty acids is linked to ADHD. Plenty of evidence suggesting that a deficiency may contribute to developmental disorders including ADHD.

There could also be a link between ADHD and a mother smoking while pregnant. However, women who suffer from ADHD themselves are more likely to smoke, so a genetic explanation can’t be ruled out. Nevertheless, nicotine can cause hypoxia (lack of oxygen) in utero (during pregnancy).

Smoking during pregnancy and lead exposure have also been suggested as a contributor to ADHD in children.

Brain injury may also be a cause of ADHD in a very small minority of children. This can occur following exposure to toxins or physical injury, either before or after birth.

Treatment for adult ADHD

There are multiple treatment options that we offer for adult ADHD management. Our GPs can help you find the right course of treatment. Mental Health Specialists will be able to tailor the treatment plan specifically around your needs.

Common treatment options include medication, improved sleep, dietary support and talking therapies.

Medication for Adult ADHD

Medication for ADHD is more effective when combined with other treatments. You will get much more out of your medication if you also take advantage of other treatments that address emotional and behavioural issues.

Everyone responds differently to ADHD medication. Some people experience dramatic improvement while others experience little to no relief. The side effects also differ from person to person and, for some, they far outweigh the benefits. Because everyone responds differently, finding the correct medication and dose takes time.

Our GP’s can refer you to our partner Consultant Psychiatrists who can perform ADHD assessments, initial medicated treatments as well as provide repeat prescriptions.

Sleep and ADHD

Many adults with ADHD have sleep difficulties. Getting good quality sleep is key to improving ADHD related symptoms like poor attention, lack of focus, and low mood.

We can help you with improving your sleep by our biometric-tracked sleep screens.

Healthy diet and ADHD

When it comes to diet, managing ADHD is as much of a matter of how you eat as what you eat. Most of the nutritional problems among adults with ADHD are the result of impulsiveness and poor planning. Your goal is to be mindful of your eating habits. That means planning and shopping for healthy meals, scheduling meal times, preparing food before you’re already starving, and keeping healthful, easy snacks available.

Our Dietitian can help you with making good food choices and developing a personalised diet plan that works specifically for you.

Therapy for adult ADHD

Talking therapies and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) offered by our expert Mental Health Specialists will help you with issues stemming from longstanding patterns of underachievement, failure, academic difficulties, job turnover, and relationship conflict.

Book a private GP appointment

Our GPs are available 7 days a week, no matter where you are.


Counselling services and psychiatric treatment

You can book an online appointment with our counsellor and consultant psychiatrist. Please note if you are using Private Medical Insurance, you may need a GP referral first. Please check with your provider.


Reviewed by Dr Daniel Fenton, Clinical Director at The Doctors Clinic Group

Published: May 2020 | Review date: May 2023