High-Functioning ADHD Symptoms in Adults

Most people go through life without ever knowing that they suffer from Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). ADHD is often diagnosed or spotted first in children. Children with ADHD hardly sit still or focus and in most cases, they act on impulse without thinking things through. However, ADHD is different in adults since tend to be less impulsive and hyperactive than children. Perhaps, their biggest problem is staying focused on tasks. Overall, ADHD causes serious difficulties for both children and adults. Significant ADHD symptoms manifest as simple behavioral challenges. So, if you have a strong connection to any of the ADHD symptoms, consult your doctor for diagnosis and possible treatment options.

High-Functioning ADHD Symptoms

What is ADHD? What does High-functioning ADHD mean?

ADHD is a neurodevelopment disorder that affects the development of the brain. ADHD is known to cause hyperactivity, compulsive behavior, and inattention to the affected persons.

High-functioning ADHD, on the other hand, is when an ADHD patient exhibits mild symptoms of the disease and is, therefore, able to function at a near-normal status. In high-functioning ADHD the affected patient is not debilitated by ADHD symptoms. Moreover, high-functioning ADHD patients, often find alternative ways to undertake and finish tasks at hand.


There are no existing tests for ADHD. However, doctors often rely on a series of tests and procedures to determine whether someone has ADHD. Inability to focus or compulsive behavior does not necessarily mean that someone is suffering from ADHD.

In children, doctors have to identify 6 or more symptoms of inattentiveness, hyperactivity, and impulsiveness. To rule out the possibility of the symptoms being just part of the child’s developmental disorder, the doctor has to ensure that the symptoms displayed have existed for at least 6 months, at it has started showing before the age of 12. Lastly, the doctor must determine that the symptoms are severe enough to make the life of the child difficult before concluding that the child has ADHD.

Diagnosis of ADHD among adults is complex. However, doctors identify 5 or more symptoms of inattentiveness, hyperactivity, and impulsiveness before assuming the adult is suffering from ADHD. To rule out the possibility of such symptoms being just other psychological problems such as stress or early-onset dementia, the current diagnostic guidelines for ADHD in adults require the specialist to confirm that the symptoms have been present from childhood.

NOTE: High-functioning ADHD is not a formal diagnosis, but a subset of ADHD.

There are three major categories of ADHD based on the dominant symptom exhibited by an individual with high-functioning ADHD.

1. Inattentive

These are ADHD patients who have severe inattention but are less hyperactive and less impulsive.

2. Hyperactive-impulsive

Adults in this category of ADHD present mixed hyperactive and impulsive behavior or symptoms.

3. Combined

Here individuals exhibit symptoms of hyperactivity, compulsive behavior, and inattention.


While ADHD has no cure extensive research on ADHD has yielded several effective treatment options. Some of the most common treatment options for high-functioning ADHD include psychotherapy and medical interventions such as the use of stimulants and antidepressants. Remember, not everyone has the same experience with high-functioning ADHD. So, let your doctor help you find the right treatment option based on the symptoms presented.

High-Functioning ADHD Symptoms In Adults

High-functioning ADHD symptoms in adults

High- Functioning ADHD presents a different set of symptoms compared to children. While hyperactivity is less severe in adults with ADHD, they have greater difficulty finishing tasks or concentrating. Also, high-functioning ADHD may seem to be getting by well but still struggle and exert a tremendous amount of effort to get things done. Below are some of the symptoms of high-functioning ADHD in adults.

Difficulty multitasking

ADHD significantly reduces the concentration span in the affected patient. Patients suffering from the disease find it extremely difficult to take on two activities at the same time.

Getting stressed out easily

ADHD patients experience heightened levels of stress. It is very common for ADHD patients to miss out on important deadlines or fail to complete tasks. When this happens patients tend to start blaming themselves which then leads to stress.

Frequent mood swings

Patients living with ADHD often have difficulty controlling their emotions. They experience high and low moments. During low moments ADHD patients can be very irritable often exhibiting sudden anger outbursts. It is less severe in high-functioning ADHD.

Poor time management

It is very hard to keep time when you feel overwhelmed with everything around you. Persons suffering from ADHD frequently miscalculate how much time it will take them to do a particular task. Additionally, procrastination which is a common ADHD symptom negatively affects their ability to manage time.


A chronic need to put off tasks to a later time or date is also a symptom of ADHD in adults. People with ADHD tend to procrastinate on activities or tasks that are less interesting or more demanding. Other reasons for ADHD-related procrastination are forgetfulness or loss of interest.

Difficulty reading for an extended amount of time

Persons living with ADHD are easily distracted and hence cannot read for an extended period of time. After a lengthy period of reading, they are likely to misread certain words or acknowledge punctuations. If you have similar challenges, schedule an appointment with a doctor.


This is a normal human experience when the human mind wanders off. However, long or frequent daydreaming that constantly affects other aspects of your job or studies is a common symptom of ADHD.

Inability to sit still

High-functioning ADHD patients are likely to start fidgeting or leave their seats after only a short period of time. This is because their mind is struggling to find something interesting.

ADHD Symptoms

What difficulties can these symptoms cause?

People with ADHD struggle to overcome insurmountable odds every day. For some, they have to find a way to suppress their urges or sit through long tedious meetings at work. Others, have to struggle twice as hard to beat deadlines or arrive in time for appointments.

Many persons with ADHD lose their jobs for not able to keep up. Symptoms like frequent mood swings and anxiety make it difficult to make meaningful connections with other people. This is because they feel judged by others. The worst part is that some of them don’t even realize they are struggling with ADHD.

What to do if you or your loved one has symptoms of high-functioning ADHD in adults?

People with ADHD are our brothers, sisters, classmates, or workmates. We have to care for them and encourage them. I mean why blame them for what they cannot stop blaming themselves over? The best we can do for relatives and friends who present these symptoms is to help them secure an appointment for a comprehensive evaluation. This is the first step to recovery.

High-functioning ADHD in adults presents mild symptoms that may pass off as poor behavioral challenges. Thanks to growing awareness more adults have been diagnosed with high-functioning ADHD. It does not matter how mild or severe ADHD symptoms are because high-functioning ADHD is manageable. Embracing ADHD treatment not only eases the pain but also improves the quality of life for those affected. It is only then that ADHD patients can unlock their full potential.