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ADHD in Adults


Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

is a condition that affects behavior. You may be overactive and have a short attention span. ADHD interferes with how you function in your daily activities at work, school, or home. ADHD may also cause you to have problems getting along with other people.

Signs and symptoms of ADHD:

ADHD has 2 main types, based on signs and symptoms. You may have a combination of the 2 main types. A combination is the most common type of ADHD.

  • Inattention:
    • Get easily distracted or have a hard time focusing
    • Avoid tasks that need full attention
    • Not follow or easily forget instructions or directions
    • Not listen, or drift away when spoken to
    • Make careless mistakes or lose things
    • Have problems organizing tasks or chores and managing time
  • Hyperactivity and impulsivity:
    • Become easily bored and not finish tasks
    • Talk a lot, interrupt, or intrude into conversations or games
    • Change schools or jobs often
    • Feel stressed, nervous, or worried much of the time
    • Have problems doing quiet activities or sitting still
    • Have an addictive behavior such as use of alcohol or illegal drugs, shopping, eating, or working too much
    • Have more energy than seems normal

Call your local emergency number (911 in the US) if:

  • You feel like hurting yourself or someone else.

Seek care immediately if:

  • You have a seizure.
  • You have trouble breathing, chest pains, or a fast heartbeat.

Call your doctor if:

  • You feel you cannot cope at home, work, or school.
  • You have new symptoms since the last time you visited your healthcare provider.
  • Your symptoms are getting worse.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Treatment for ADHD:

The goal of treatment is to help you learn how to control your behavior. A combination of therapy and medication is usually most effective for treating ADHD. You may need any of the following:

  • Behavior therapy is used to help you learn to control your actions and improve your behavior. This is done by teaching you how to change your behavior by looking at the results of your actions.
  • Psychotherapy is also called talk therapy. You may have one-on-one visits with a therapist or with others in a group setting.
  • Stimulants help you pay attention, concentrate better, and manage your energy.
  • Antidepressants help decrease or prevent depression or anxiety. It can also be used to treat other behavior problems.

Manage ADHD:

  • Reduce stress. Stress may make your ADHD worse. Ask about ways to calm your body and mind. These may include deep breathing, muscle relaxation, music, and biofeedback. Talk to someone about things that upset you.
  • Learn more about ADHD. The more you know about ADHD, the better you will be able to help yourself. Read books, work with your therapist, and find the support of other people with ADHD.
  • Do not drink alcohol. Alcohol may make your symptoms worse.
  • Create a regular sleep schedule. Sleep can help decrease your symptoms. Try to go to bed and wake up at the same times each day. Do not watch TV, use the computer, or play video games before bed. Electronic devices can make it hard for you to sleep or to stay asleep.
  • Eat a variety of healthy foods. Healthy foods can help increase your concentration and make you feel calmer. Healthy foods include fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy products, lean meats, fish, whole-grain breads, and cooked beans. Ask your healthcare provider if you need to be on a special diet.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about ADHD in Adults (Ambulatory Care)

Associated drugs

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Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.