Lack of Focus or Do I Have Adult ADHD?

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Twenty years ago, the world hardly heard of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or better known as ADHD. Today, however, ADHD is so loosely used that anytime anyone feels they are unfocused or mentally cluttered they may say “I’m so ADD”, but are they really?

I totally believe 100% that children are over diagnosed for acting their age. Of course, I’m not a doctor but working in a children’s hospital does shed light on the differences in those who clearly have it and those who have other bio-behavioral issues. What happens when you’re an adult though?

My sister was diagnosed when she was 20 years old. I honestly thought she was crazy when she first told me but after 7 years of being on medication, she states she’s never focused so well in her life. An incident happened a couple of months though that have stopped her from taking her medication and she explained to me her symptoms. When she was describing them to me, I was like wait, I am the same way, do I have adult ADHD? When is it just a simple lack of focus due to stress or bad habits and when might it be ADHD?

You have NO filter and are highly impulsive.

Being candid, bold, opinionated is one thing and many people with strong personalities possess these traits. If you find you are getting into frequent arguments with family, friends, and co-workers who accuse you of not thinking before speaking or acting, then there could be more going on. “You have to look at how certain behaviors impact the general well-being of your life, explains, Dr. Hafeez. If you are unable to keep a job, and 50% of people with ADHD struggle to do so, then it would be wise to get an assessment for ADHD,” she says. “People who find they consistently miss deadlines and simply forget or rush through them without a careful eye on quality of the output are red flags. Of course, there are other psychological considerations and implications but having an ADHD assessment is a good suggests Dr. Hafeez.”

Where am I? I can and do hold jobs steadily but when it comes to school it can be slightly different. I make all A’s every semester but man do I forget/rush through assignments and deadlines.

You’re constantly putting out fires.

People with adult ADHD frequently lose important papers, documents on their computers or their personal belongings like cell phone, credit cards, keys etc. They find they consistently miss appointments, arrive to work late, feel disorganized and scattered. This inattention to the details of life leads to being in crisis mode cleaning up your own messes.

According to Dr. Hafeez this is a recipe for high stress, poor confidence, second-guessing oneself, and low self-esteem. “When you are constantly cleaning up mistakes or apologizing for lateness you start to question your abilities and judgment. This is the uneasiness that may even lead to depression if adult ADHD isn’t properly diagnosed and treated with the help of a trained licensed therapist who specializes in ADHD,” cautions Dr. Hafeez.

Consistently late and missing appointments? Nope, not me. Loosing personal belongings like my cell phone and debit card. Um, yes. My husband gets so annoyed with me because I loose at least one of them daily.

You are either easily distracted or off in your own world.

ADHD often has people focusing in two different ways. First, they may have such trouble focusing that they can’t sit through meetings at work, dinners with family or friends, can’t remain engaged in conversations and just feel antsy and always onto the next thing. The second way ADHD impacts focus is where they are so immersed and deeply focused on something that everything else around them is non-existent. “Someone who is in this hyper focused state can easily lose track of time, their kids, and other commitments because when you have ADHD, nothing is more important than what you are on hyper focused on,” explains Dr. Hafeez. She goes on to say that people with ADHD feel they “lost time” because they were focused on one thing for so long and didn’t realize where the time went.

I’m not sure if I fall into this category. I feel like I can focus in meetings and things like that but being hyper focused is something I definitely do. I zone out all of the time.

You feel like there’s never enough time for anything.

This is because people with ADHD typically over-schedule themselves and under-estimate the time it takes for certain tasks. Time management is a big challenge for people with adult ADHD. They often add to their anxiety by creating unrealistic to-do lists then struggle to get things accomplished because they’re distracted. Anxiety is often an overlapping condition, as are obsessive compulsive traits. “There’s a self-defeating cycle going on where they take on too much then feel inadequate when things aren’t completed. They frequently say that there aren’t enough hours in the day,” says Dr. Hafeez.

Over scheduling myself, check. Anxiety, check.

It is important to really do your research and be honest with your overall quality of life. Then seek out a professional who can offer a detailed assessment which is the first step to diagnosing and effectively treating ADHD. “It is never just one thing. When I offer a thorough assessment, using not just a very comprehensive interview but a complex battery of standardized tests that measures brain functioning, I discover loads of information the patient never saw coming, and so the treatment I design is accurate, long lasting, and can bring about lasting change,” Dr. Hafeez says.

Though I’m not sure if I do fall into the ADHD/ADD category I do wonder if maybe there is something there. Dr. Hafeez has brought up some interesting points that make me consider seeing a doctor to find out. My anxiety is something I’ve dealt with for as long as I can remember so I wonder if this could be the cause of it.

Do you suffer from ADHD as an adult? What symptoms lead you to finding out?

About the Doctor:
Dr. Sanam Hafeez PsyD is a NYC based licensed clinical neuropsychologist, teaching faculty member at the prestigious Columbia University Teacher’s College and the founder and Clinical Director of Comprehensive Consultation Psychological Services, P.C. a neuropsychological, developmental and educational center in Manhattan and Queens.

Connect with her via twitter @comprehendMind or

  • Author Brandi Kennedy

    I have thought for a long time that I have adult ADD – I don’t have the hyperactivity that my kids have, but I AM largely unfocused and because of that, I have trouble keeping up with deadlines and things of that nature. I’ve thought about going in and having myself assessed, and asking for medication to help me … but I have been totally embarrassed by it and afraid of being mistaken for someone just looking for pills.

    Strangely, I had no trouble at all asking for help with both of my daughters’ diagnoses.

  • Amber Myers

    My husband has ADD. He realized it when he couldn’t seem to focus on anything. He’d also pace the house, which would drive me nuts. He has medication that helps, thank goodness.

  • Erin Maycroft

    As an elementary school teacher, I would have to agree with you about the fact that it seems that kids these days are over-diagnosed. Seems to me that parents are just looking for an excuse for their child to act like an a**hole. Obviously there are real cases.

    That said, in reading your descriptions about adult ADHD, I had someone in my life spring to mind. Makes me actually want to do a little more investigating on that. Thanks for the info!

  • Ana De- Jesus

    I have quite a few of these symptoms but I am not ADHD your right though sometimes it is hard to tell especially in children when many of them are wrongly diagnosed. Definitely food for thought 🙂

  • Ashley

    This is a good read, I have never thought of my tardiness as ADHD, however, after reading this, I may need to be more aware of my patterns and do some more investigating.