Getting diagnosed with ADHD when you're an adult

Video report by Anna Youssef.

Are you a fidgeter who talks over people or interrupts others? Do you lose concentration easily or take unnecessary risks?

If so, you could be one of 1.5 million adults in the UK with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

But with just 120,000 adults formally diagnosed, many are often left feeling ‘lazy’ or ‘stupid’, because the condition is left undiagnosed.

Catherine Millan was recently diagnosed with ADHD

Catherine Millan's always enjoyed being active.  Lockdown meant she stopped going to the gym and started working from home.

She became more forgetful; suffered from mood swings and had trouble concentrating.

The 33-year-old decided to get professional help and was eventually diagnosed privately in July with ADHD. 

She believes it's something she's always had but changes to her routine and environment made it worse.

Dave Twentyman wishes he had been diagnosed with ADHD earlier in his life

Dave Twentyman's a stand-up comic.  Being creative and impulsive is part of the job but completing day-to-day tasks has always been more of a challenge.

Dave's partner suggested he get screened for ADHD after noticing he was struggling more during lockdown. He now takes medication on a daily basis. It's helped his concentration and stabilised his moods.

Dave and Catherine got help from the ADHD Foundation in Liverpool.  It is one of only two charities in the country to offer ADHD screening for people aged 16 to 60. They are experiencing unprecedented demand.

While ADHD is often seen as a childhood condition, there's been an increase in the number of adults being diagnosed.  Around one in 20 adults are thought to have ADHD.  If left untreated It can affect your work, education and relationships. 

Dr Tony Lloyd, ADHD Foundation

Catherine's back in the gym five days a week and back with her colleagues in the office.

Her diagnosis has helped make sense of the past and allowed her to take control of her future.

What is ADHD?

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a behavioural condition defined by inattentiveness, hyperactivity and impulsiveness.

Symptoms typically appear at an early age and become more noticeable as a child grows. These can also include:

  • Constant fidgeting 

  • Poor concentration

  • Excessive movement or talking

  • Acting without thinking

  • Little or no sense of danger 

  • Careless mistakes

  • Forgetfulness 

  • Difficulty organising tasks

  • Inability to listen or carry out instructions 

ADHD's exact cause is unclear but is thought to involve genetic mutations that affect a person's brain function and structure.

Premature babies and those with epilepsy or brain damage are more at risk. 

ADHD is also linked to anxiety, depression, insomnia, Tourette's and epilepsy.  

There is no cure. 

A combination of medication and therapy is usually recommended to relieve symptoms and make day-to-day life easier. 

If you would like to know more about ADHD, here are some helpful links: