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10 Subtle Signs of Adult ADHD

10 Subtle Signs of Adult ADHD Banner for Blog Post

The ADHD we recognized from the 90's is no longer the ADHD we see today.

Gone are the days were you have to be an adolescent boy, upside down in his classroom chair, screaming during story time - to get a diagnosis.

The reality is, is we really didn't understand much about ADHD until recently. ADHD can look like other "more common" diagnoses, especially in women and girls. You are far more likely to be diagnosed with anxiety than ADHD.

We've made huge advancements over the last several years in understanding what ADHD looks like in different types of people, varying from gender to age groups. And as we continue to educate and destigmatize, more adults will come forward seeking a diagnosis and the support that comes along with it.

Now we all know the stereotypical signs of ADHD right?

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But that isn't the case for every ADHD'r. Especially those of us undiagnosed adults. When you have spent years masking and overcompensating for the deficits your ADHD caused, your symptoms are likely going to present a little differently.

So, without further ado, here is

10 subtle signs of adult ADHD

Difficulty concentrating

o Easily distracted

o Daydreaming

o Zoning out during conversations

o Overlooking details and instructions (missing key steps)

o Unable to start or complete tasks

o Missing deadlines

o Loosing interest in important things and moving on to other “more interesting” things –We see this a lot in ADHD entrepreneurs. We have brilliant new business ideas, dive in head first, and quickly loose steam - dropping the ball on the business as a result.

o On the other hand you may hyper-focus – this is far more extreme than just "focusing" on an activity. Transitioning away from what you are working on can be difficult and may interfere with your ability to accomplish other things, especially daily tasks.


o Regularly misplacing items (like car keys and wallets)

o Brain feels like its on autopilot

o Constantly retracing your steps

o Storing things in the wrong places (setting your phone in the freezer)

o This can also present as an obsession for organization to compensate for your difficulties. If things aren’t perfectly organized you feel like everything will fall apart

Poor Time Management

o Often running late

o Loosing track of time

o Underestimating how much time something will take you

o Forgetting appointments

o Altered sense of time – time can run differently for ADHD people than it does for neurotypicals. If you feel like you experience time differently than other people (minutes feel like hours or hours feel like minutes) this may apply to you.

Risky Behaviors

o Confrontational – regularly starting fights

o Overspending - poor money management

o Reckless driving

o Gambling

o Binge eating or impulsive eating

o Risky sexual behaviors

o Substance abuse – can be seen as self medicating

o Frequent job changes - I personally struggled to stay in a position for more than a year, I'd get bored and need something new.

Poor Communication skills

o Interrupting - or in my family, competitive speaking

o Taking “side quests” or tangents when talking

o Talking too much or too fast

o Saying things that are not socially appropriate

o Difficulty reading other people's body language

Difficulties Prioritizing

o Constantly overwhelmed

o Unable to decide what is important

o Underestimating deadlines or a difficulty in thinking ahead

o Seeking new and exciting over familiar tasks that have a higher priority

Emotional dysregulation

o Strong or intense emotional reactions (see RSD)

o Ruminating

o Easy to anger

o Explosive outbursts

o Constantly irritable

o Periods of little motivation and choice paralysis

o Fluctuate between excess emotion and lack of emotion


o Thoughts are always racing

o Constantly fidgeting or moving

o Overthinking / catastrophizing

o Difficulty sitting still - are you one of those people who can watch a whole movie without also having to do other things? This may not apply to you.

Memory issues

o Leaving essential things at home - I was constantly forgetting the diaper bag

o Loosing track of your things

o Forgetting things on grocery lists

o Difficulty following instructions

o Re-reading sections due to an inability to remember what you just read

Poor sleep

o Difficulty falling asleep – due to a brain that won’t turn off

o Struggle to stay asleep

o Difficulty waking up – ADHD’rs tend not to enter the deepest sleep stage until early in the morning

What comes next?

You don't need to resonate with all of these signs to go get tested. If you resonate with a few, but those few things have a big impact on your life, it is worth it to get tested. Reach out to your primary care provider to see how you can access ADHD testing.

You don't have to wait to get tested to start seeking resources or support. Many professionals will work with you regardless of a formal diagnosis. Interventions like therapy and coaching can be extremely beneficial and aren't just for diagnosed ADHD'rs.

The final, and perhaps most important thing you can do is start to grow your own self-awareness. Start paying attention to where your difficulties are impacting your life. Get to the root of how and why you are struggling.

A great and easy way to increase your self-awareness is to start a journaling practice. This doesn't have to be a "dear diary" situation. Start off by taking a few notes on how your day went. Or if you're a morning person, maybe you're noting how yesterday went. Reflect on how you felt, what contributed to those feelings and how much of that do you have control over?

I send out journaling prompts at the beginning of every month. Join my subscriber list below by entering your email and those prompts will be sent right to your inbox.

How many of these signs do you resonate with? Are you an ADHD'r that has a different experience with your ADHD? Let us know in the comments!


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