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Adult ADHD and Your Relationships

Does your husband complain that you never listen? Does your wife say she feels like you’re just one more child in the house? Have your friends lost patience with your chronic lateness?

Adult attention deficit hyperactivity disorder could be to blame. Although ADHD is thought of as a childhood problem, experts believe it can linger into adulthood in the majority of cases diagnosed in children. And if you don’t know you have the condition, it could be wreaking havoc on your relationships.

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Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: Symptoms of ADHD

The symptoms of ADHD include inattention and/or hyperactivity and impulsivity. These are traits that most children display at some point or another. But to establish a diagnosis of ADHD, sometimes referred to as ADD, the symptoms should be inappropriate for the child's age. Adults also can have ADHD; in fact, up to half of adults diagnosed with the disorder had it as children.  When ADHD persists into adulthood, symptoms may vary. For instance, an adult may experience restlessness instead of hyperactivity...

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You might find that friends or family think you’re irritating, that you interrupt a lot, or you’re a nuisance, says psychologist Arthur Robin, PhD, professor of psychiatry and behavioral neurosciences at Wayne State University in Detroit. “Sometimes, the person with ADHD will sense this, but other times they won’t sense it until they’re hit over the head with it -- they’re oblivious to what’s going on.”

And that’s part of the problem. Adult ADHD may affect your life so dramatically that you don’t even realize there’s an issue. Because of this, adults struggling with ADHD often aren’t evaluated for the condition.

Is Adult ADHD Straining Your Relationship? 5 Warning Signs

While everyone is different, some common problems seem to consistently affect the relationships of adults with ADHD. If the following five complaints sound familiar to you, it might be time to consider whether adult ADHD is having a negative impact on your relationships.

1. ''Do you even hear what I’m saying?''

One of the most common complaints about people with ADHD is that they don’t listen -- even when someone is talking directly to them. That was the case for Gina Pera, whose husband has adult ADHD.

''The problem isn’t working on communication between you and your partner -- the communication problems are happening between their neurons,'' says Pera, author of Is it You, Me, or Adult ADD? Stopping the Roller Coaster When Someone You Love Has Attention Deficit Disorder. ''They’re not hearing what you’re saying. They’re distracted by the fifth word or they’re hearing what they want to hear.''

Of course, if you have ADHD you might not understand why your friends and family are getting so angry. Instead, you might feel you’re constantly being nagged or that you honestly never were told about those Saturday night dinner reservations.

2. ''You never pull your weight around here!''

Mowing the lawn. Washing the dishes. Folding clothes. Household obligations present responsibilities that can be overwhelming for people with adult ADHD.

If the people you live with are constantly complaining that you aren’t pulling your weight, take a step back and consider whether they’re right. When was the last time you took the trash out ? Is your clutter taking over the house? Are your family members doing more than their fair share of keeping the household running smoothly?

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