Millions of US adults have ADHD, and some may not even know

Published: Nov. 7, 2023 at 11:24 AM MST
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(CNN) - It’s one of the most common neurodevelopmental disorders in childhood, and often attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, continues through adulthood.

Some adults who weren’t diagnosed as children may not even be aware they have it.

Millions of U.S. adults have ADHD. It can cause problems at home, in relationships and in careers.

“They may get in trouble at work. They may get reprimanded for not completing assignments. They may have trouble in their social life,” said Dr. Claudine Egol, a psychiatrist at Mayo Clinic.

Adults with ADHD may be tempted to take unnecessary risks.

They may have difficulty waiting in line or driving in heavy traffic, feel restless and unable to sit through certain activities.

They may frequently shift their bodies, tap fingers or feet, or have mood swings, like a quick temper or low stress tolerance.

“Symptoms of inattention and poor concentration can be due to a whole host of other disorders,” Egol said.

She said to see a primary care doctor or mental health professional if you suspect ADHD symptoms.

While there’s no definitive test to diagnose it in adults, Egol said there are ways to lessen its impact.

”Routine, routine, routine is everything for somebody with ADHD,” she said.

Manage your time. Use a planner, calendar or app to help create reminders.

Organize your tasks. Divide big jobs into smaller steps you can check off.

And ask for help from family members and friends when you feel less motivated or overwhelmed.

In the office, use storage systems to keep your desk organized and clear.

You may also try using headphones or ear plugs to block out distracting noises.

The Mayo Clinic said adults with ADHD also have an elevated risk of substance use or abuse, increased risk of stress in marriage and divorce, and are also more likely to get into motor vehicle accidents — more reasons why it’s important to be aware of the symptoms.