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Adult ADHD

Commonly known as: Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, ADHD, hyperactivity, hyperactive, inattention, inattentive, Attention Deficit Disorder, ADD, assessment/diagnosis, neurodiverse, neurodiversity

Adult ADHD

Explore adult adhd by scrolling through the page or simply select an option from the drop down if you wish to jump to the relevant section of the page:

What is ADHD?

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, or ADHD, is a neurodevelopmental condition which is usually diagnosed in childhood. Sometimes it is not recognised in childhood and is diagnosed later, as an adult. Neurodevelopmental conditions like ADHD affect the way our brains develop and work. This can impact on behaviour and the way people experience the world around them.

It is estimated that 2.5% of the adult population may have ADHD.


Signs and symptoms of ADHD

ADHD is characterised by symptoms of inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. Individuals can have symptoms that fall into one or all of the categories:

  • Inattention – difficulty concentrating or finishing a task, disorganised, easily distracted, forgetful, unable to listen when people are talking.
  • Hyperactivity – fidgety, unable to sit still, talking excessively, always on the go as if ‘powered by a motor’.
  • Impulsivity – acting quickly without thinking about the consequences, interrupting other people, difficulty waiting their turn.

Many of us can experience these symptoms from time-to-time but for people with ADHD, they happen on a daily basis and can have an impact on their mental health.

People living with ADHD might struggle in education settings or to hold down a job due to ‘time-blindness*’, poor organisation, and lack of focus. They might get themselves into debt if they’re impulsive spenders and feel ashamed of not being able to manage their money. They might struggle with low self-esteem brought on by criticism of how they live.

*Time-blindness is the difficulty or inability to sense the passing of time or in recalling when certain memories took place. It is a common symptom in people diagnosed with neurodevelopmental disorders, including ADHD and autism. However, anyone can experience it on occasion.

ADHD can co-occur with many other neurodevelopmental and mental health conditions. These can include (but aren’t limited to) autism, anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder and substance misuse.

Many people diagnosed later in life may have been diagnosed initially with one of these conditions. This is because many of the presentations can be similar and harder to identify.


Self-help advice for adults with ADHD

Looking after your own physical and mental wellbeing is important. There are simple things we can all do to help look after our mental health:

  • Visit our looking after yourself section for more information and advice.
  • There are 5 steps we can all take to look after our mental wellbeing, see if you can incorporate some of our Five Ways to Wellbeing into your everyday life. There you can find some ideas on how to do this, or make up your own.
  • If you are feeling anxious, have a look on Melo’s Anxiety


Self-care tips to use if you have or suspect you have ADHD can include:

  • Setting alarms/timers on your phone/watch/computer for appointments, medication, regular breaks, eating and drinking and exercise. This is to help with managing time-blindness.
  • Doing regular exercise whether that’s walking, running, going to the gym or taking the dog out, it all counts. When you have ADHD, you forget to do the things that will help your brain regulate itself so getting out into the fresh air can help with improved concentration and anxiety too.
  • Meal planning. Cooking can be an overwhelming experience for people with ADHD. One helpful tip shared by people with ADHD is to batch cook. Make more than you need in one go and store away the extra food for another meal, which will help with the overwhelm.
  • Find a support group on social media or in your local area. Speaking to other people who are experiencing the same things as you are, can be really helpful.
  • Managing money when you have ADHD can be stressful. You might feel ashamed or worried to tell anyone if you’re in debt and don’t know what to do. Please ask for help. You can find organisations who can support you if you’re struggling with your money on our Money Worries page.
  • Talk to family and friends about how you are feeling, they may be able to help you


If you need further help

If the information, advice, resources and courses on this page have not been helpful and / or you feel you need more help, there are many free services available.

You have the option to make an appointment with a Psychological Health Practitioner (PHP) or your Doctor/General Practitioner (GP). PHPs are NHS mental health practitioners who provide a free service for people experiencing mild to moderate mental health problems.


I am an adult and I think I have ADHD; how do I get an assessment?

As the first port of call, please speak to your Doctor/GP who can discuss your concerns with you. It helps to take some notes with you about how you’ve been feeling and what symptoms you’ve been experiencing so your GP can get a better idea.

If they think there’s a case for assessment, they will then refer you to your local community mental health team (CMHT). Your referral will be considered, and you will be informed in writing if you have been added to the assessment waiting list.


How long is the wait for an ADHD assessment?

As the local service is quite new, we sadly can’t give an estimated waiting time for assessment. We know this can be frustrating but as the service develops, we’re hoping we’ll be able to provide this information in the future.


What happens at the assessment?

The assessment/diagnostic process may take place over several appointments and will be conducted using structured interviews by trained professionals. ABUHB follow national guidance for assessment and diagnosis of Adult ADHD.


Will the assessment be in person or online? 

Assessments can be undertaken both in person and online.


Do I need to bring anyone with me?

You can bring someone along to support you, it can be helpful to have someone who knows you well attend with you.


What happens if I’m diagnosed with ADHD? What are the next steps?

The health care professional will discuss any possible treatment options with you, they will also provide you with useful information and advice on managing any difficulties you might experiencing.

Last updated: 04.05.2023

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Self-help courses for those with Adult ADHD

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Self help resources for adults with ADHD

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ADDitude – Expert guidance and support for living better with ADHD and its related mental health conditions

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ADHD UK – Information on ADHD assessment, diagnosis and managing at work, as well as virtual support groups

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ADDers – Information and free practical help to those affected by ADD/ADHD including adults and their families

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ADDISS – People-friendly information and resources about attention deficit hyperactivity disorder

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