Signs of ADHD

Recognizing the Subtle Signs of ADHD Beyond the Criteria

Beyond official diagnostic criteria, signs of ADHD may include inconsistent performance, challenges with time management, and overlooked details in daily tasks.

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Unofficial Signs of ADHD That You May Experience

While it’s common to be confused from time to time, many people are at their wits’ end about their experiences and struggles in their daily functioning for the longest time. Some are frustrated 😣 and cannot function well because they cannot understand the situation they are going through. Some found The Mini ADHD Coach and easily relate to the difficulties I have been through. They also asked the same questions I did when I still was not ADHD diagnosed.

What is the first step in determining if you are affected by Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)? Although an ADHD diagnosis from your mental health professional can confirm that you are experiencing symptoms associated with the neurodivergent disorder, acting on your curiosity can shed some light 💡. 

You can search for the different ADHD symptoms, run through the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, and thoroughly read 📚 everything about adult ADHD. Still, you might be surprised that there’s more to ADHD than what meets the eye. 

Getting to Know ADHD from Another's POV

You would often see on our Instagram account a disclaimer saying, "ADHD is complex, and the challenges we face are different from each other." And true enough, what can be a struggle for me might come easy for someone else. There are no standard ADHD symptoms for everyone affected by this neurodivergent disorder. Come to think of it, there are guidelines for diagnosing ADHD, but mental health professionals 🧑‍⚕️ don't require you to have all similar symptoms of ADHD. It only takes five 🖐️ symptoms from either inattentiveness or hyperactivity-impulsivity, or enough of each for combined type, and you might be diagnosed with the condition.

The ADHD symptoms and experiences vary from person to person. Hence, the best way to relate yourself to Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is to associate yourself with people 🧑‍🤝‍🧑 who share the same experiences with you. Reading blogs and articles 💻, listening to ADHD podcasts 🎙️, joining an ADHD community and support group 👭👬, or seeking professional 🏥 help are some things you can do to understand more about ADHD.

As I have mentioned, getting to know more about ADHD from another person's point of view can help you realize that you are not alone in this journey. It is essential to remember that everyone experiences and copes with ADHD differently 👌. Some ADHD traits can be part of people’s struggles but are not often mentioned because they are not included on the Official List of ADHD Symptoms. These unofficial ADHD traits include:

  • Having sleep problems
  • Being disoriented with the date and time
  • Hyper focusing and hyperfixating
  • Sensory sensitivity
  • Social awkwardness
  • Emotional dysregulation

Note that the symptoms of other conditions that can be associated with ADHD are not included above. Many people struggling with ADHD receive new challenges as they age, which makes it more difficult to cope with ADHD. The list 📜 can continue on and on, which proves that this neurodivergent disorder can be complex and can change through time.

The DSM-V of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

There are other symptoms a person with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity can experience that aren't on the list in the recent version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders. 

The American Psychiatric Association made the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual to guide every mental health professional in diagnosing adult ADHD individuals. They have compiled 📚 all the possible ADHD symptoms that a person with this neurodivergent disorder can have and have categorized them into three types: inattention, hyperactivity-impulsivity, and combined.

The last time they updated the DSM was 2013. They included certain behaviors and symptoms for almost all neurodivergent conditions, such as Oppositional Defiant Disorder, Mood Disorder, or Anxiety Disorder. For Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, they have recognized that ADHD is not only found in younger children, thus adding provisions for older adults that can possibly have ADHD. 

But, the 5th edition mentioned the same ADHD symptoms in the DSM fourth version made in 1994. They only made a minor change, like the inclusion of environmental factors that might contribute to the struggle we experience and the existence of these struggles in two or more settings, like workplace 🏢, school 🏫, or home 🏡. Overall, it was a pretty shy update on the adult ADHD symptoms we can experience.

The American Psychiatric Association has yet to update the guidelines with the numerous research conducted about Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. And there is no definite time frame yet when the next version will be released, so the same symptoms will still apply to those seeking an ADHD diagnosis. However, for the people who experience the struggle of having ADHD and cannot have the diagnosis yet because their difficulties don't yet fit the current set of criteria, we understand your pain. Getting an adult ADHD diagnosis is difficult 🤔, time-consuming ⌚, and expensive 💸, but hanging on and seeking help is essential.

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The Unofficial List of ADHD Symptoms

If a person can relate to all the experiences that other people with ADHD struggle with, but cannot get a diagnosis, 🙅 it does not mean that their feelings can be invalidated. Even if you are not experiencing impulsive behaviors and do not make careless mistakes or feel extreme restlessness, you can still be diagnosed with ADHD. It would be best if you seek help from a professional to assist you in your journey, but for now, let us discuss some of the unofficial ADHD symptoms that we can experience.

Sleeping Difficulties

Perhaps because of the hyperactivity-impulsivity symptoms or the racing thoughts that never seem to stop 😵, many people with ADHD find it hard to fall asleep. It takes longer for our brains to shut off and relax because of the hyperactive brain that an ADHD person may have.

sleep problems

Many adults have difficulty sustaining attention because of 😴 sleep deprivation which can lead to a decrease in productivity at work or school. Lack of sleep can also worsen the symptoms that we experience. In addition, sleep disorders can complicate things further and significantly affect a person's mental health.

Disoriented with Date and Time

Time management ⏳ can sometimes be a challenge for many people with ADHD. We have our fair share of struggles with scheduling appointments, paying bills on time, estimating the travel time from one place to the next, and being punctual for work, school, or other events. It can be hard for us to run that schedule because we are easily sidetracked and might forget entirely about the task we need to do.

disoriented with date and time

The disorientation with date and time doesn't end with time management woes. Details in date and time that require sustained mental effort might also be affected. Remembering essential occasions, like birthdays and anniversaries, can be quite hard for us 📅😔. Details from any conversation might be challenging to remember, the events that transpired over the past days can also be quite hazy, and recalling the sequence of events can be demanding.

Hyperfocusing and Hyperfixating

Are you familiar with the ADHD bubble? It is something we can experience even though we can be easily distracted. Other people might think that we only have a short attention span over essential activities, but the truth is, we can laser focus on things 😉. We can finish school work without sweating, play activities without getting distracted, and concentrate on the things we deem important without being sidetracked.

hyperfocusing and hyperfixating

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder may make someone feel engrossed in an activity for long periods. This phenomenon is better known as hyperfocusing or hyperfixating. It can be good because it can lead to better productivity, but on the other hand, it can also make someone miss out on important events or activities 😭. Hyperfocus can sometimes be a double-edged sword that can make us feel good about ourselves 🥰, but can also make us lose track of time.

Sensory Sensitivity

The list of the official symptoms of ADHD doesn't include being sensitive to external stimuli because it can coincide with other comorbidities, like anxiety and autism. But the struggle with sensory sensitivity for people with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Deficit (ADHD) is very real. We can be sensitive to light, sound, smell, taste, and touch. And because of that, we can be easily overwhelmed by our surroundings 😫.

sensory sensitivity

The central nervous system of a person with ADHD can constantly be on high alert, which can lead to a heightened sense of awareness. We can also be easily startled and have a hard time filtering out everything that goes around in our environment. The noise of the children running around 🏃, the room temperature 🌡️ that's too hot or too cold, and the brightness of the lights 💡 can all be too much for us and can lead to a possible meltdown.

Socially Awkwardness

Many people with ADHD may experience a lot of tricky situations because of their ADHD symptoms. They may go through many scenarios where their ADHD symptoms get the most of them. For example, a person with ADHD can struggle with learning disabilities and may have a difficult time getting through social settings. The feeling of anxiousness 😟 can make them feel socially awkward and avoid interaction with others altogether. 

socially awkward

Being socially awkward can happen to people with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) because its symptoms can force you to act and react in a way that can be considered unnatural in a social environment. The difficulty in organizing tasks and thoughts may make us say and do things others see as out of the norm. This can make us feel embarrassed about ourselves 😔. That's why sometimes, behavioral therapy can be considered a treatment option to treat ADHD adults who seem to struggle with their social abilities.

Emotional Dysregulation

One of the things that can be significantly affected by ADHD is our ability to control our emotions. We can easily feel excited and ecstatic 😃 about simple things, quickly disappointed 😞 when we feel the slightest rejection, or feel angry 😠 over the most minor inconvenience of waiting in line while grocery shopping. Mood swings may also occur because of our emotional dysregulation.

emotion dysregulation

When we tend to feel everything so intensely, it can be hard to cope with the regular day-to-day activities. We might have a hard time dealing with our emotions, leading to outbursts and impulsive decisions. So, we need to find ways to deal with our feelings healthily to be able to prevent any further complications 🤔.

Conclusion, What are the Signs of ADHD?

Remember that your struggles are real and valid 🙂. There are lots of symptoms today that can point you towards an ADHD diagnosis. According to the Center for Disease Control, the average age of diagnosis is seven years old. However, many people are not diagnosed until they reach adulthood. And even if you're already aware of your ADHD, it's still important to seek professional help 👩‍⚕️ to get the proper treatment and assistance you need.

Hyperactive-impulsive symptoms or inattentive traits found on the DSM-V can quickly get you diagnosed with ADHD. But for those experiencing unofficial symptoms of ADHD, it may be hard to point out that you have the condition.  That does not mean your feelings and thoughts should be invalidated. Being fully informed about your situation can help you understand yourself more and find ways how you can manage your symptoms. So, you must carry on and advocate for yourself until you get the help you need and, most importantly, never give up 💪.

Unofficial Signs of ADHD

Unofficial Signs of ADHD: FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

What are unofficial ADHD symptoms?

The unofficial symptoms are NOT ❌ part of the diagnostic criteria for ADHD but many people with this neurodivergent condition can experience and relate to them.

What are the examples of unofficial ADHD symptoms?

Two of the possible unofficial symptoms are sleep troubles 😴 and hyperfocus 🧐. The inability to get enough sleep can be a symptom in and of itself. This is especially the case for those who have ADHD, as they may be more prone to suffer from insomnia or other sleep disorders. Another possible unofficial symptom is Hyperfocus, which refers to an intense focus that someone with ADHD can exhibit when doing something they find interesting or engaging..

What should you do if you suspect ADHD?

If you suspect that you or a loved one may be experiencing symptoms of ADHD 🤔, it's best to get a diagnosis and begin treatment as soon as possible. This can be a difficult decision to make, but it is important that you don't delay in order to avoid the stigma associated with mental illness. There are plenty of resources available to help guide you through this process and answer any questions that arise along the way.

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