How to Determine if You Have Adult ADHD

Three Methods:Learning the Signs of Adult ADHDBeing Evaluated for Adult ADHDTaking Charge of Your Life

Everyone feels disorganized, hyper, or like they can’t pay attention at some time or another. But, you may feel that these things are interfering with your life. You may wonder if you have adult Attention-Deficit Hyper-Activity Disorder (ADHD). Instead of wondering, determine of you have adult ADHD by learning the signs, getting evaluated, and taking charge of your life.

Method 1
Learning the Signs of Adult ADHD

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    Be aware of being easily distracted. Difficulty concentrating, getting bored very quickly, and a short attention span are where the ‘attention deficit’ part of the name ADHD come from.[1] You can determine if you have adult ADHD if you notice how often you are distracted.
    • Think about how frequently you are unable to complete work or stay focused on tasks throughout the day.
    • Try to estimate how many crafts or projects you have started but haven’t finished.
  2. 2
    Determine if you are restless. Although children with ADHD show signs of hyper-activity, adults with ADHD are usually described as more restless than hyper-active. In order to determine if you have adult ADHD figure out of you are generally restless.[2]
    • Look for signs that you fidget a lot or are constantly on the go. Are you always moving your fingers, tapping your toes, or twirling your hair?
    • Think about how often you feel like you can’t relax no matter what you do. Do you generally feel that you can’t unwind?
  3. 3
    Look for trouble with organization. One of the signs of adult ADHD is difficulty getting and being organized.[3] Think about how often you misplace things, don’t have the things you need, or are just generally disorganized so that you can determine if you have adult ADHD.
    • Are you always looking for a pen, or some paper, or your phone or tablet?
    • Do you have a habit of losing or forgetting your keys, glasses, wallet, or other important items?
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    Examine your listening skills. Try to recall how frequently you start daydreaming or your mind wanders when you are listening. If you really aren’t a good listener, it might be a sign that you have adult ADHD.[4]
    • If you have been told you aren’t a good listener it might be because you are distracted easily.
    • Do you often realize you haven’t heard important instructions because you were thinking about something else?
    • Are you actually listening sometimes when it appears that you aren’t?
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    Admit if you have poor impulse control. Adults with ADHD don't always think about the consequences of their actions and often make spontaneous decisions.[5] Because of this, adults with ADHD also have difficulty controlling their temper and may say whatever comes to mind.
    • For example, do you frequently do things and then later wonder what you were thinking?
    • Do you often say things that are inappropriate not because you are trying to be mean, but because it just “slipped out”?
    • Do you blurt out answers to questions before the question is even finished?
  6. 6
    Notice problems with time management. Because you are easily distracted and disorganized, you might also have problems being on time and using your time wisely. This is another sign of adult ADHD that you should look for to determine if you have it.[6]
    • Are you frequently late for appointments or work? Do you find that you are generally rushing to be on time?
    • Do you often miss deadlines because you didn’t use your time effectively?

Method 2
Being Evaluated for Adult ADHD

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    Talk to your doctor about your adult ADHD signs. Physicians, psychologists, and other mental health and health professionals are the only people that can diagnose you with adult ADHD.[7] Although you may have most or all of the signs, you won't be able to determine for sure that you have adult ADHD unless you see your doctor.
    • Try saying, “I think I may be showing signs of adult ADHD. Can we do an evaluation?”
    • Or you might try, “I’d like to talk to you about adult ADHD. I think I may have it and I’d like to be evaluated.”
  2. 2
    Expect to answer questions about your life. In order to be evaluated for adult ADHD, you will have to answer questions about how your life is going now, as well as how it was a child.[8] You may have to think about how you function at home, work, school, with friends, etc. in order to determine if you have adult ADHD.
    • For example, you might complete a checklist about your behavior when you were younger.
    • You may also be asked to fill out behavior rating scales, surveys, or other questionnaires.
    • You may be asked if you have depression, anxiety, or have substance abuse problems to eliminate these as reasons for your ADHD signs.[9]
  3. 3
    Be ready for a physical exam. Checking your physical health may be a part of your ADHD evaluation.[10] This is to see if there might be other reasons for your ADHD signs and to help your physician determine if you have ADHD.
    • Your doctor will likely check your blood pressure, weight, body mass index (BMI) and other indicators of your overall well-being.
    • You may be asked about your eating and sleeping habits as well as your physical activity.
  4. 4
    Prepare your family to answer questions about you. Professionals often ask people close to you about your adult ADHD symptoms as a part of the evaluation.[11] Let them know that answering the questions honestly will help you determine if you have adult ADHD.
    • You might say, “I’d like you to answer some questions about me. This will help me and my doctor determine if I have adult ADHD.”
    • Or you could try, “Would you fill out this questionnaire about me? It’s a part of my adult ADHD evaluation.”
  5. 5
    Learn about a diagnosis of ADHD. There are specific criteria and requirements for you to be diagnosed with ADHD. The evaluation by your doctor and the information you and others give for it will help your physician determine if you have ADHD.[12]
    • The severity of the ADHD symptoms, or how much they impact your life, is one criteria for ADHD. Your symptoms must severely impact your life.
    • For example, your ADHD signs have to cause you problems in your relationships, at work, and in other settings.
    • The duration of the signs of ADHD is another criteria. Your ADHD symptoms have to have been going on since before you were 12 years old.
    • For instance, if you remember being told you have problems paying attention when you were around 8 years old, then you might have ADHD.

Method 3
Taking Charge of Your Life

  1. 1
    Ask your doctor about treatment options. One of the benefits of being evaluated for adult ADHD by a professional is that they can recommend and provide treatment for it.[13] Once they determine that you do have adult ADHD they can help you determine which treatment options are going to be best for you.
    • Treatment may include medication management, therapy, behavioral coaching, or other options.
    • Your doctor can also refer you to support groups and other resources in your community.
    • You could ask, “What do you think will be some of the most effective treatments for me?”
    • Or you might ask, “What are some community resources that are available to help me cope with adult ADHD?”
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    Create a support system. Once you have determined that you have adult ADHD you can manage it if you get support from your family and friends.[14] Let them know that you need their help in order to take charge of your life.
    • You might ask your friend, for example, “Could you help me get organized? I’ve determined I have adult ADHD and this will really help me.”
    • Or you could tell your dad, “Would you help remind me of appointments? That’ll help me out a lot!”
  3. 3
    Organize your life. One of the best things you can do to take charge of your life if you determine that you have adult ADHD is to get organized.[15] Getting organized will help you be more focused and improve your time management.
    • Use a planner, calendar, or agenda to help you keep track of when things are due or where you need to be.
    • Set reminders and alarms on your electronic devices to remind you of what you should be doing.
    • Try color-coding, labeling, or other organizational systems to help you easily identify the materials you need for work or school.
  4. 4
    De-clutter your physical space. Once you determine that you have adult ADHD, try to keep only the things around you that you need for the task at hand. It will be harder for you to become distracted if you don’t have a lot of things around you that are distracting.
    • Put extra materials neatly away for later use. For example, put away the glue gun and glitter if you are writing an expense report.
    • Put your electronic devices away or on vibrate if you don’t need them to complete your work at that time.
  5. 5
    Make healthy choices. Doing things that support your physical well-being can also help you be successful if you determine that you do have adult ADHD.[16]
    • Have a regular sleep routine. Do things like meditating or reading to calm yourself before bedtime. Try to get 6-8 hours of sleep each night.
    • Eat balanced and nutritious meals and snacks. Also, make sure you are drinking plenty of water.
    • Get active in some way. You can try yoga, walking, swimming, or even team sports. Physical activity can help you cope with your ADHD.


  • Don’t assume you have adult ADHD because you’re sometimes restless or unfocused. Talk with your doctor about your concerns.

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Categories: Attention and Developmental Disorders