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ADHD characteristics and diagnosis criteria for ADHD

  1. A sense of underachievement. because you are not achieving your goals. This point is at the top because it is the most common reason adults seek help. “I can’t make it happen,” is the most heard statement. An adult with ADHD may objectively have accomplished a great deal, or spend his/her life trying helplessly to achieve something. However, in both cases the persons suffer from the feeling of being trapped, unable to fully utilize their innate capacities.
  2. Problems organizing your life. A major problem for most ADHD adults. Without the structure that school offers, without parents to organize things, he/she falters through the organizational demands of daily life. The so-called ‘little things’ pile up and become high obstacles. A missed appointment, a lost check and a forgotten deadline, and their world comes crashing down.
  3. Chronic procrastination, problems starting something. Adults with ADHD do not dare to start something well, fed by their fear that they would not do it well, because of this they procrastinate and try to ignore things. This behavior in turn increases the fear of starting the (ever-growing number of) tasks.
  4. Many projects are running simultaneously, problems with continuation and completion. A consequence of point 3. One stops doing something and starts something else, does not finish it and starts doing something else.
  5. Tendency to say what is going on in the head without considering the necessary timing or consequences. Like a child with ADHD in the classroom, the adult with ADHD is driven by enthusiasm and uninhibitedness. A thought arises and must be spoken. In the worst case, tactlessness and deceit eventually replace childish exuberance.
  6. A constant desire for strong stimuli (kicks) The adult ADHD person is always looking for new tension and sensation: something in the environment that can compete with the whirlwind that rages within him/herself.
  7. A tendency to be easily bored A consequence of point 6. Boredom surrounds the adult ADHD person like a sink, always ready to suck all the energy. The ADHD person is left with the hunger for more stimulation. This can easily be misinterpreted as a lack of interest. In fact, it is a relative inability to maintain interest for long periods of time. As much as you care about something, that’s how fast your battery drains.
  8. Easily distracted, difficulty concentrating, tendency to drop out or drift off during a conversation, often coupled with an ability to hyperfocus from time to time. These are the main features of ADHD. The moment of ‘being turned off’ is quite random and involuntary. It happens, so to speak, when the person with ADHD is not looking for a while.
  9. The next thing you notice is that you are no longer there. The incredible gift of hyperfocusing is also common. The ADHD person is then so absorbed in an activity that you are available for nothing and no one else. Hallowell and Ratey (the compilers of this list) argue for a different name for the syndrome: AIHD, Attention Inconsistency Hyperactivity Disorder. It is not a question of a lack of attention, but of an inconsistent focus.
  10. Often creative, intuitive and gifted. This is not a symptom, but it is an important point of attention. Adults with ADHD, because they receive so many stimuli, usually have a creative, associative mind. In the midst of their chaos and distractibility, they show flashes of brilliant ideas. Conquering this special gift is an important goal in the therapeutic treatment of ADHDers.
  11. Problems with calibrated routes and following established procedures. Contrary to popular belief, this is not the result of unresolved issues with authorities. Rather, it is an expression of boredom and frustration: routine means repeating actions. ADHDers experience this as boring and look for more challenging ways. They become frustrated because they are unable to do things the way they are supposed to do them.
  12. Impatient: low frustration threshold. Frustration in all kinds of areas reminds the ADHD person of all the failures in the past. “Oh no,” you think “here we go again!” The result is anger or withdrawal. Impatience has to do with the need for stimulation. Others will quickly see this as immature behavior.
  13. Impulsivity. For example: spending money impulsively, changing plans, creating new schedules or career plans. This is one of the more dangerous of the symptoms in ADHD adults, or, depending on the impulse, one of the most adventurous.
  14. Tendency to worry needlessly, endlessly. When attention is not paid to a specific task, a chaos of thoughts arises in the mind of the person with ADHD. Worrying is often a result of this, because the person unconsciously still needs to concentrate on something. The result is a destructive stream of thoughts.
  15. Feeling of impending doom and insecurity alternated with taking great risks. This symptom relates on the one hand to the tendency to worry unnecessarily and on the other to the predisposition for impulsive behavior.
  16. Mood swings, depression. Adults (more than children) with ADHD feel at the mercy of unstable moods. This is caused by their experiences with frustration and/or failure as well as by the neurobiological influences of the syndrome.
  17. restlessness. The adult with ADHD usually does not show the hyperactivity of the ADHD child. Instead one sees ‘nervous energy’: talking quickly, drumming with fingers, constantly shifting, often getting up from the table and leaving the room, tense veins in the neck and a quick tense look in the eyes. Even at rest, the ADHD person feels nervous, tense and overstimulated.
  18. Tendency to addiction. More than others, adult ADHDers are at risk of becoming addicted, either to a substance such as nicotine, cocaine, caffeine, or alcohol, or to an activity such as gambling, shopping, eating, or work. This is partly due to their great need for stimuli (which paradoxically calm the ADHD person!), their impulsiveness and their tendency to hyperfocus. Eating disorders often occur during depressive periods.
  19. Chronic problems with self-esteem. These are the direct and unfortunate result of years of conditioning: years of being told that one is a klutz, a fool, a scaremonger, a buster, a mess, a bum, a loner, crazy and different. Years of frustration, failure, or failure to get things done lead to a negative self-image. It is impressive to see how resilient most ADHDers still are, despite all the setbacks.
  20. Inaccurate self-perception. People with ADHD often have a limited view of themselves. They have little idea of ​​the influence and effect they have on other people. This often leads to major misunderstandings and deeply hurt feelings.
  21. Family history of ADHD, manic-depressive illness, depression, drug and/or alcohol addiction, compulsions or mood swings. Since it is known that ADHD is often genetically transmitted and related to the other disorders mentioned above, it is not uncommon for these problems to run in families.


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