What are adult ADHD symptoms as university students issued ‘perfect storm’ warning

October is ADHD Awareness Month, and with an estimated 2.6 million people in the UK living with the condition, more awareness is needed.

The condition – which stands for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder – affects a person’s everyday life, relationships and work.

Data reveals up to 40% of ADHD sufferers also experience problems with sleep.

The exact cause of ADHD is unknown; however, the condition has been shown to run in families.

Symptoms of ADHD start in early childhood and continue into adulthood.

What are the signs to spot and why are university students most at risk?

Why is ADHD diagnosed in adults?
In some cases, ADHD is not recognised or diagnosed until the person is an adult.

Most ADHD diagnoses happen when children are deemed disruptive or hyperactive, but many others fly under the radar as their behaviour may not be as impactful, and therefore they risk going undiagnosed right through to adulthood.

New research has revealed the high number of university students suffering with the condition, leading to a high drop-out-rate.

ADHD and university
Dr Leon Rozewicz, consultant psychiatrist at Priory Hospital North London, says: “ADHD can often ‘first manifest’ at university.

“A highly structured school and home can allow people with ADHD to do very well, achieving As and A*s at A-level, and 8s and 9s at GCSE.

“Young people with ADHD can compensate for their symptoms with a good structure at home and at school.”

Further discussing why university students experience a “perfect storm” for ADHD, Dr Rozewicz explained: “The increasing need to be focused and organised at university can prevent them from going on to fulfil their potential.

“So, when students arrive at university, there is much less structure; parents don’t supervise independent work and there may be very few hours of face-to-face lectures, with an expectation for self-directed study.

“In addition, there are many other distractions, partying, new relationships, alcohol – basically ‘burning the candle at both ends’.

“So, when a student finds themselves unable to cope – and the ‘scaffolding’ which was provided by the school and the parents is taken away – ADHD can come to the fore and appear for the first time.”

Signs of adult ADHD
Symptoms of adult ADHD include:

  • Impulsiveness
  • Disorganisation and problems prioritising
  • Poor time management skills
  • Problems focusing on a task
  • Trouble multitasking
  • Excessive activity or restlessness
  • Poor planning
  • Low frustration tolerance
  • Frequent mood swings
  • Problems following through and completing tasks
  • Hot temper
  • Trouble coping with stress.

Treatment for ADHD
“ADHD can be treated using medicine or therapy, but a combination of both is often best,” says the NHS.

“Treatment is usually arranged by a specialist, such as a paediatrician or psychiatrist, although the condition may be monitored by a GP.”

Dr Rozewicz added: “Experienced psychiatrists and therapists, including my colleagues at Priory, can devise bespoke ADHD treatment tailored to individual diagnosis, with the aim of reducing associated symptoms through a variety of evidence-based treatment methods.”