Adult ADD

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ADD occurs in up to 4% of all adults.  Most of them are completely unaware that the difficulties that have plagued them all their lives, have a biological cause, and a name.   Their symptoms will have started at a young age, but have probably gone unrecognised.   Of those children who have ADD, 70% will retain symptoms into adulthood.

Over the years they may have had a variety of symptoms, such as:

Difficulty concentrating (but able to 'hyperfocus' on something that interests them)

Being easily distracted

Daydreaming, or 'tuning out'


Feelings of restlessness

Feelings of underachievement

Mood swings


Problems with anger control


Needing to be moving in order to think

Blurting out inappropriate remarks

Interrrupting others

Love of hi-tech gadgets, computers etc (high stimulation)

Doing or saying things that they later regret (cause of much embarrassment)

Impulsiveness (in word or action eg spending)

Poor (clumsy?) social or communication skills

Act the clown  (inc actions which they may regret)

Drumming fingers, fiddling, fidgeting etc

Thrill seeking or risk taking

Have lots of 'piles' of work

Lack of follow through

Always in a hurry

Difficulty starting things


Losing things frequently

Feelings of failure

Relationship problems

Employment problems (due to all of above symptoms)


Many years of being misunderstood take their toll.   They may have been labelled hyper, stupid, clumsy, weird, crazy, rude, abrupt, hot tempered, insensitive, lazy, irresponsible etc.  It therefore comes as no surprise that these people acquire other problems such as 

(figures from the book 'Out of the Fog' = percentage of ADD clinic patients)

Low Self-Esteem  (up to 85%)

Depression (up to 40%)


Addictions (up to 35%) - self-medicating


Many sufferers who are now adults did not have the same opportunities of recognition and diagnosis of ADD as the children of today.  Even so, many children can still be overlooked unless they have hyperactivity and behavioural problems.   The very intelligent child may have been able to do sufficiently well in school work, not to raise concerns, particularly if there were no behavioural problems.  They may have done well in primary school, but began to suffer more into secondary school, where the pressure increased and study became more self-directed, and required more organisation.  These perhaps are the people who can still go undiagnosed, often into adulthood. 

Many adults with ADD have adapted to their condition and learned coping mechanisms, such as keeping to routines, management of their time, lists, planners etc.  Tips on coping with Adult ADD

The excellent book 'Driven to Distraction' (written by a Psychiatrist with adult ADD) suggests these Diagnostic Criteria for ADD in Adults

There are  positives - adults with ADD are also described as being driven, highly motivated, creative, very intelligent, full of ideas, imaginative, intuitive, energetic, hard working (especially in hyper-focus) etc.  Many of the world's great achievers are thought to have had ADD, including Albert Einstein, Mozart, Beethoven, John F Kennedy, Winston Churchill, Walt Disney and many others.



See ADHD page for further links including  Treatment   &  Women & Girls

Adults with ADD Factsheet

ADD in Adults lots of info and links

Men with ADD

Adults with ADD - the ADDULT

Management of Adult ADD

Adults with ADD - Frequently Asked Questions

ADD in Adults

Tips on coping with Adult ADD

Suggested Diagnostic Criteria for ADD in Adults

Adult ADD Symptom Checklist

Girls & Women are Underdiagnosed

Women with ADD

What's it like to have ADD?

ADDvice for ADDults

Online Screening Quiz

Uniquely ADD ADHD  links to articles

Adults ADD/ADHD   includes video case study of a headteacher with ADD

Life with ADD

Understanding & Treating Adult ADHD

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Adult ADD
Out of the Fog Coping Strategies for Adult ADD
The Hyperactive Child, Adolescent & Adult

Women with ADD

Driven to Distraction

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04 May 2002