ADHD symptoms in adults

Learn the Core Symptoms of ADHD in Adults

Patient portrayal

Learn how the core symptoms of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) might look in adults and ask your doctor any questions you might have. Remember, only a doctor or other healthcare provider can diagnose ADHD.

ADHD symptom list

3 Core Symptoms of ADHD

1 Inattention

2 Impulsivity

3 Hyperactivity

This list is an overview of what these symptoms may look like in adults. It is not a diagnostic tool.

Symptoms of inattention

  • Often makes careless mistakes and lacks attention to details
    Examples: overlooking or missing details or handing in work that is inaccurate
  • Often has difficulty paying attention to tasks
    Example: difficulty remaining focused during lectures, conversations, or lengthy readings
  • Often seems to not listen when spoken to directly
    Example: mind seems elsewhere, even in the absence of obvious distraction
  • Often fails to follow through on instructions, chores, or duties in the workplace
    Example: starts tasks but quickly loses focus and is easily sidetracked
  • Often has difficulty organizing tasks and activities
    Examples: messy, disorganized work; poor time management; fails to meet deadlines
  • Often avoids, dislikes, or is reluctant to participate in tasks requiring sustained mental effort, like preparing reports, completing forms, or reviewing lengthy papers
  • Often loses things like tools, wallets, keys, paperwork, eyeglasses, and mobile phones
  • Often easily distracted by other things, including unrelated thoughts
  • Often forgetful in daily activities, such as running errands, returning calls, paying bills, and keeping appointments

Symptoms of hyperactivity and impulsivity

  • Often fidgets with or taps hands and feet, or squirms in seat
  • Often leaves seat when remaining seated is expected
    Example: leaves their place in the office or other workplace setting or in other situations that require remaining seated
  • Often runs or climbs where it is inappropriate or feels restless (in adults, may be limited to feeling restless)
  • Often unable to participate in leisure activities quietly
  • Often acts as if “on the go" or “driven by a motor”
    Example: is unable to be or uncomfortable being still for an extended time, as in meetings or restaurants
  • Often talks excessively
  • Often blurts out an answer before a question has been fully asked
    Examples: completes people’s sentences; cannot wait for next turn in conversation
  • Often has difficulty waiting his or her turn, for example, while waiting in line
  • Often interrupts or intrudes on others
    Examples: butts into conversations, games, or activities; may start using other people’s things without asking or receiving permission; may intrude into or take over what others are doing 
Tell Your Doctor How ADHD Symptoms Affect You

Symptoms sound familiar?

Tell your doctor about your symptoms and how they are impacting your world.

This can help

How ADHD may appear in different settings

ADHD symptoms may affect adults at home, at work, or at school, and in social situations. For a diagnosis of ADHD to be made, symptoms must be present in two or more settings.

At home

  • Forgetful in daily activities such as running errands, returning calls, keeping appointments
  • Loses things like homework, keys, eyeglasses, wallets, and mobile phones
  • Difficulty doing leisure activities quietly

At work or school

  • Trouble getting organized (Examples: difficulty keeping materials in order, poor time management skills, tends to miss deadlines)
  • Trouble sitting still
  • Fails to pay close attention to details or makes careless mistakes

Social situations

  • Difficulty waiting for his or her turn
  • Frequently interrupts or intrudes on others
  • Talks excessively

Symptoms must occur often.

Please note: This is not a diagnostic tool. Only a healthcare provider can accurately diagnose ADHD. Be sure to review the full list of ADHD symptoms and talk to your doctor.

ADHD may appear differently in adulthood

ADHD Symptoms in Adults May Be Less Noticeable

Patient portrayal

ADHD can be a lifelong condition yet symptoms in adults may be less noticeable than those in children (ages 6-17), though they are just as important to identify.

For example, symptoms of hyperactivity in children, such as climbing or running excessively, may appear in adults as a feeling of restlessness.

Next up?

Most people can be inattentive, impulsive, or hyperactive from time to time. So, when is it ADHD?

Want info about Vyvanse for ADHD in children (ages 6-17)?

Right this way