Do You Have ADHD?

Medically Reviewed by Smitha Bhandari, MD on May 15, 2023
3 min read

Has anyone ever asked you if you have ADHD? Maybe you've even wondered yourself.

The only way to know for sure is to see a doctor. That's because the disorder has a number of possible symptoms, and they can easily be confused with those of other conditions, like depression or anxiety.

Not sure whether you should get checked by a doc? If many of these apply, you may need to get checked out.

1. People say you're forgetful.

Everyone misplaces car keys or jackets once in a while. But this kind of thing happens often when you have ADHD. You might spend time looking for glasses, wallets, phones, and other items every day. You may also forget to return phone calls, space out on paying bills, or miss medical appointments.

2. People complain that you don't listen.

Most of us lose focus on a conversation once in a while, especially if there's a TV nearby or something else grabs our attention. This happens often and to a greater degree with ADHD, even when there are no distractions around. But still, ADHD is more than that.

3. You’re often late.

Time management is an ongoing challenge when you have ADHD. It often leads to missed deadlines or appointments unless you work on avoiding that.

4. You have trouble concentrating.

Problems with attention, especially focusing for long periods of time or paying attention to details, is one of the hallmarks of the condition. Depression, anxiety, and addiction disorders can also take a toll on your focus, and many people with ADHD have one or more of these issues, too. Your doctor can ask you questions to get to the bottom of what's causing your attention problems.

5. You leave things undone.

Problems with attention and memory can make it tough to start or finish projects, especially ones that you know will take a lot of focus to complete. This symptom can point to depression, too.

6. You had behavior issues as a child.

You need to have had attention and concentration problems as a child in order to be diagnosed with ADHD as an adult -- even if those early symptoms didn't come with a formal diagnosis.

People may have accused you of being lazy back in childhood. Or they may have thought you had another condition like depression or anxiety.

If you actually were diagnosed with the disorder as a child, you may still have it. The symptoms change as you age, and not everyone outgrows it.

7. You lack impulse control.

This is more than tossing a candy bar into your cart at the checkout line. This is doing something even though you know it could have serious consequences, like running a red light because you think you can get away with it or not being able to keep quiet when you have something to say, even though you know you should.

8. You can’t get organized.

You may notice this more at work. You could have trouble setting priorities, following through on tasks, and meeting project deadlines.

9. You’re fidgety.

Kids with ADHD are often hyperactive, but adults are more likely to be fidgety or restless. You might also talk too much and interrupt others.

10. You can’t control your emotions.

You might be moody or irritable, express frustration often, feel unmotivated, or be prone to angry outbursts. ADHD can make it hard to manage uncomfortable emotions or follow appropriate behavior when you’re upset.

There’s no one test. Instead, doctors and psychologists get information about what and how many symptoms you have, when they started, how long they've lasted, and how severe they are.

In order to be diagnosed with ADHD, you need to have several symptoms, not just one or two. And they have to have affected your jobs, relationships, or other important areas of your life. Your doctor will also want to rule out other conditions or find out if you have more than one disorder.

Several treatments can help you manage the condition. So if you answered yes to a lot of these questions, consider making an appointment with your doctor. The sooner you find out, the sooner you can start treatment.

Show Sources


UpToDate: "Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in adults: Epidemiology, pathogenesis, clinical features, course, assessment, and diagnosis."

HelpGuide: "Adult ADD/ADHD - Signs, Symptoms, Effects, and Treatment," “Effects of Adult ADHD.”

Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder: "Getting Evaluated," “Diagnosis of ADHD in Adults.”

University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine: "Adult Developmental Disorders."

Anxiety and Depression Association of America: "Adult ADHD."

National Alliance on Mental Illness: "ADHD."

UC Davis Mind Institute: “ADHDnews: Winter 2013/2014.”

University of California San Diego Neuropyschiatry & Behavioral Medicine: "What is ADD?"

National Institute of Mental Health: "Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder."

American Speech-Language-Hearing Association: "Autism (Autism Spectrum Disorder.")

Attention Deficit Disorder Association: "Adult ADHD Self-Report Scale (ASRS-v1.1) Symptom Checklist Instructions."

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