Hepatitis Foundation International

Home » General Health » Understanding Symptoms And Risks Of Untreated ADHD In Adults

Understanding Symptoms And Risks Of Untreated ADHD In Adults


Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a common neurodevelopmental disorder that begins in childhood and can persist into adulthood. It is characterized by symptoms of inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity that impact day-to-day functioning. While ADHD has long been considered a childhood disorder, it is now known that symptoms frequently continue through the teenage years and into adulthood for many people. 

Understanding ADHD In Adults

ADHD in adults may look different than the primarily hyperactive symptoms seen in children. Adults with ADHD often have difficulty focusing, prioritizing, organizing, and completing tasks. They may struggle with things like time management, forgetfulness, restlessness, emotional dysregulation, and impulsivity. 

Symptoms And Risks Of Untreated ADHD In Adults

The exact causes of ADHD are still being researched but studies suggest that genetics and differences in brain development and chemistry contribute to the development of ADHD. Imbalances in certain neurotransmitters like dopamine and norepinephrine are thought to play a role. There also appear to be links between ADHD and brain regions that manage executive functioning and reward pathways. 

While for many the disorder starts in childhood, some people do not experience or recognize significant symptoms until later in life. demands increase with adulthood. Often people have found ways to cope and compensate for ADHD symptoms when younger through structure or support. As adult responsibilities mount, their ability to manage the symptoms decreases substantially. 

Must Read: What Is Viral Hepatitis? Causes, Symptoms & Prevention Methods!

Symptoms Of ADHD In Adults

There are three main categories of ADHD symptoms in adults: inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity.

Inattention Symptoms

  • Difficulty staying focused and paying attention to details 
  • Being forgetful, missing details, and making careless mistakes
  • Having problems staying organized and finishing tasks
  • Avoiding tasks that require sustained focus 
  • Frequently losing or misplacing things
  • Being easily distracted
  • Not listening fully to instructions 
  • Daydreaming and not following conversations well

Hyperactivity Symptoms

  • Restlessness and inability to sit still
  • Fidgeting and tapping hands or feet 
  • Difficulty engaging in quiet activities
  • Constant motion and pacing
  • Impatience
  • Discomfort with calm environments

Impulsivity Symptoms

  • Difficulty exercising self-control 
  • Acting recklessly or spontaneously without thinking
  • Interrupting others
  • Trouble taking turns
  • Difficulty resisting temptations 
  • Making impulsive decisions

Adults with ADHD often have issues like forgetfulness, procrastination, lateness, underperformance at work or school, emotional dysregulation, low self-esteem, and relationship conflicts. Adults with ADHD are also more prone to problems like substance abuse, sleep disorders, anxiety, and depression.

Risks Of Untreated ADHD In Adults

Untreated ADHD In Adults

Leaving ADHD untreated comes with a variety of risks and difficulties:

  • Academic and Work Problems: Adults with ADHD may underperform at work or school and have difficulty reaching their full academic or professional potential. Staying focused, and organized, and starting and finishing projects can all be challenging.
  • Substance Abuse: Impulsivity and risk-taking behaviors make adults with ADHD more prone to developing alcohol, drug, or nicotine addictions. It is estimated up to 50% of adults with untreated ADHD have had substance abuse issues.
  • Mental Health Disorders: ADHD is associated with a higher risk for a range of comorbid mental health conditions like depression, anxiety disorders, bipolar disorder, and personality disorders. The challenges that come with ADHD may contribute to the development of these secondary conditions.
  • Financial Issues: Adults with ADHD often have inconsistent job histories or difficulty managing money responsibly leading to financial hardship. Impulsivity with spending and lack of organization around bills can also cause problems.
  • Legal Troubles: The impulsive and reckless behaviors associated with ADHD can lead some adults to engage in criminal activities landing them in legal trouble. High rates of ADHD have been noted among prison inmates.
  • Driving Accidents: Impulsiveness and inattention make those with untreated ADHD more likely to engage in risky driving behaviors. Speeding, road rage, poor concentration, and accidents are all more common with ADHD.
  • Relationship Conflicts: The symptoms of ADHD can create interpersonal difficulties, communication issues, and marital conflicts. Impulsiveness, emotional dysregulation, disorganization, and inattention can seriously impact relationships.
  • Poor Self-Esteem: Adults with ADHD often internalize their struggles and have lower self-esteem. The inability to meet goals or actualize their potential can be discouraging. Seeking treatment is important.

Is ADHD In Adults Curable?

There is no cure for ADHD but the symptoms can be managed successfully in most cases with appropriate treatment and lifestyle changes. The key is to pursue an individualized treatment plan that addresses each person’s unique symptoms and challenges. 

Medication is often a component of treatment for ADHD. Stimulants like Adderall, Ritalin, and Vyvanse are commonly prescribed and can help with focus, impulse control, and regulating hyperactivity. Non-stimulants may also be used, especially if stimulants cause side effects. 

Beyond medication, counseling provides support with embracing strengths, developing coping skills, and making lifestyle changes to better manage symptoms. Cognitive behavioral therapy is often beneficial. Coaching and assistance in organizing home and work life are also important.

Creating structure through organizational systems, calendars, reminders, etc can accommodate challenges with time management and forgetfulness. Finding tools and strategies to assist with symptoms empowers adults with ADHD and helps minimize risks. 

Also Check: Does Creatine Make You Gain Weight? What Is The Truth?


ADHD often persists from childhood well into adulthood for many people. Understanding the symptoms and risks associated with untreated ADHD empowers adults to pursue informed treatment. While ADHD cannot be cured, implementing an individualized management plan improves the quality of life and helps adults reach their full potential. The right lifestyle changes and treatment provide hope for a happy and fulfilling life.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What are the three main categories of ADHD symptoms in adults?

A: The three main categories of ADHD symptoms in adults are inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. 

Q: How does untreated ADHD impact adults? 

A: Untreated ADHD can negatively impact academic and career performance, mental health, finances, driving safety, self-esteem, and relationships for adults. It also increases the risks of substance abuse.

Q: Why do some adults get diagnosed with ADHD later in life?

A: Some adults get diagnosed later in life because symptoms were not recognized earlier or they were previously able to cope and compensate. Increased responsibilities make managing untreated symptoms more difficult.

Q: What are some treatment options for ADHD in adults?

A: Treatments for ADHD in adults include medications like stimulants and non-stimulants as well as counseling, cognitive behavioral therapy, coaching, lifestyle changes, organizational tools, and strategies to manage symptoms.

Q: Can you outgrow ADHD as an adult?

A: No, ADHD is considered a lifelong neurological disorder so it cannot be outgrown. However, symptoms may improve with age for some as they learn to adapt and compensate. Treatment and healthy lifestyle choices also help manage symptoms.

Dr. Harold Gojiberry is not just your ordinary General Practitioner; he is a compassionate healthcare provider with a deep commitment to patient well-being and a passion for literature. With extensive medical knowledge and experience, Dr. Gojiberry has made a significant impact in the field of healthcare, particularly in the area of liver diseases and viral hepatitis.

Leave a Comment