What Does Untreated ADHD in Adults Look Like?

ADHD is often thought of as a childhood disorder because it is more common in children, and, in many ways, symptoms can be more apparent. If you think about it, it’s far easier to notice a child struggling to wait their turn in line or who can’t keep from fidgeting and chatting — especially when concerned parents or teachers are looking out for signs like these.

ADHD is a neurodevelopmental condition that often goes unnoticed in adults aged 18-44, which means many adults with ADHD do not receive a diagnosis or treatment. This condition is widely understood for how it contributes to difficulty concentrating and staying on task. However, ADHD can significantly impact all areas of one’s life.

Symptoms of untreated ADHD in adults include:

  • restlessness or hyperactivity – demonstrated through talking or fidgeting excessively
  • impulsivity – acting without thinking of long-term consequences
  • inattention – difficulty staying focused

If you have ADHD, you may also:

  • misplace your things
  • lose your temper quickly
  • miss deadlines
  • struggle to follow instructions
  • feel scattered and struggle to stay organized
  • interrupt others who are talking

Awareness of the symptoms can help, but only to a certain extent. Those struggling to recognize ADHD signs can better understand whether they may have it by knowing some risks of untreated ADHD. The following are examples of how ADHD can manifest in daily life and the impact of ADHD behaviors.

Anxiety and depression

Adults with ADHD are more likely to experience major psychological distress like severe anxiety and depression.

Several things can ultimately trigger these feelings or lead to the development of these disorders. Low self-esteem, mood changes, and regular feelings of overwhelm can all play a part.

Difficulty managing stress

It’s easy for adults with ADHD to feel so overwhelmed about everything they must do that they resort to quitting to avoid the pressure. Even those who are fairly organized or know where to start can still find it difficult to stick with the task because their minds may constantly wander.

Disorganization, distraction & job dissatisfaction

Adults with ADHD may find themselves working on various projects at once or procrastinating. Sometimes they inadvertently tune out important information, having trouble staying focused when communicating with others, such as their boss.

They may also fail to meet deadlines because they are distracted by other things or lose track of time. If behaviors and symptoms go unaddressed, it can lead to serious consequences, including termination. That said, it is common for adults with ADHD to leave their workplace, as they may change jobs frequently due to their job dissatisfaction and overwhelming stress.

Difficulty with relationships

Because adults with ADHD tend to be easily distracted, it can also be hard to connect with others and maintain healthy relationships. Furthermore, spouses of individuals with ADHD typically feel more neglected and undervalued than spouses of those without the condition.

While ADHD was once considered strictly a childhood disorder, it can stay with you your whole life. Many children also grow out of their hyperactivity and inattention; however, an estimated 60% of these individuals will continue to struggle with ADHD into adulthood. Getting the right diagnosis is important for getting the right treatment. If you’re concerned about ADHD, talk to your doctor so they can suggest treatment plans or behavioral therapies for managing your symptoms.

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