How do I know if I have adhd or just similar personality traits?

Since a friend of mine started telling me about his ADHD I’ve found that I relate to a LOT of the symptoms. I have terrible focus, a scatterbrained mind that is always jumping from activity to activity or thought to thought, I procrastinate, I put off things that require mental effort for weeks or months, it’s hard for me to sit still, etc. I’m a 22 yo female. The thing is, I’ve never “struggled” severely the way many ADHDers have. I’ve still kept my grades up, even if it meant not sleeping, or else in college I was able to get by with moderate effort. I tend to be very focused in conversations and am pretty able to pay attention in classes, if it’s interesting. If I had adhd, would I know for sure? I have terrible anxiety which I now take meds for and it’s significantly better, but maybe I’m mistaking “adhd symptoms” for anxiety. I realize this is a support group for people with ADHD so no worries if I don’t belong and you can ignore this, I’m just curious and not really sure who to ask. I don’t want to ask my friend and make him feel I am minimizing his struggles. Thank you!

OK polsak I’ll try and make an attempt with your post. First everyone is welcome on here, mostly as long as you’re kind to others in your posts. I suspect that the reason that no one has answered you before is that they are not doctors and don’t want to be put in that category. I’m not a doctor either but I have dealt with ADHD all my life. The one answer most of us don’t want to hear is go see a doctor and let them diagnose as to whether or not you have ADHD. But truly that is the only one who can and should determine that. It’s really easy to become a little bit of a hypochondriac and start apply symptoms to yourself that sound a lot like yourself. The things that you have described about yourself could certainly fall into the ADHD category , but theirs a really long list of ADHD symptoms. Just stay strong and do what you’re able, and don’t beat yourself up too much about things in your life. And know that things will get better as long as you don’t give up.

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@gopherrabbit had a really good point that I would like to add to. We aren’t doctors nor are we supposed to act like ones. That being said, there are lots of helpful resources for ADHDers that you can use! You don’t have to be diagnosed to apply strategies in your life ( and we have tons of those here ) it can definitely be helpful to get a diagnosis but that’s up to you
Welcome to the forum :grin:

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It’s really difficult to definitively figure it out by yourself. It’s hard for a person to see themselves completely clearly and objectively.

You can start with a self-screening test (one possibility is here: https://add.org/adhd-test/). You can also get someone close to you to answer similar questions as an outside reporter (these are sometimes more accurate than a person’s report of their own symptoms, because it’s so hard to see the situation clearly from the inside).

At that point, if you want to know for sure you need a professional. GPs can be a good starting point, though the process of diagnosis may also involve a psychiatrist or psychologist.

I completely agree with this. If you can relate to ADHD, then you can probably benefit from the strategies (and I recommend ADHD strategies to virtually everyone I know, because I think they are useful to a really wide range of people)

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I agree with everything above, and also I recommend doing more research about adhd and all the varying symptoms. There are some lesser-known symptoms that might be affecting your life too, if you have it!

When I first started looking into it, I really wasn’t sure either if I could just have some similar traits or if it really was ADHD, until I read about the way ADHD affects sleep, which explained all the very serious sleep problems I’ve had all my life and that never fit the description of any sleep disorders so I couldn’t ever get help with them…
But no one really talks about sleep that much when they talk about ADHD!

So it could also be some less talked about symptom that might actually be causing a lot of problems in your life, if you do have it.

And even finding out more about the more positive or neutral qualities that come with it might help you decide if you want to seek a diagnosis. If you end up feeling like “hey, that’s me!!” very often when you read about it, that’s quite a good sign that you might have it…

If it starts explaining everything you’ve ever struggled with, and everything that makes you a bit different from the rest of the world, then I’d definitely recommend getting a diagnosis. :slight_smile:

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It’s been said before, but everyone has ADHD symptoms at some point to some extent. The question is, is it frequently enough that it’s bothersome or impairing things? Sometimes the impairment and challenges aren’t so easily seen. Maybe you’ve been a great student, a great worker, a great partner, or a great friend. Maybe you manage money well and arrive to all your appointments on time. Maybe you drive really safely and don’t make mistakes. The only real way to know if you have ADHD or not is to seek assessment or evaluation from someone. Doing some work on your own first can help point you in the direction. Reading, doing some screeners, etc. However, just know that not all ADHD presents exactly as it does in the diagnostic books and myths and preconceptions impact even our willingness to seek help.

It’s entirely possible that you’ve had untreated ADHD. It’s also entirely possible it could be something else. Whatever the case is, identifying your challenges and where you want help can be a good step in getting the help that you need. A diagnosis is only one piece of the puzzle.

I didn’t realize I struggled as much as I actually did until after the diagnosis and I looked back at my life through the ADHD lens. And, once I started treatment it became really clear to me that the diagnosis fit. It took me a long time to get there, though, both in terms of my own hesitance and a long thorough process with professionals. Regardless of whether you have the diagnosis or not, it’s still okay to seek out knowledge, support, and connection with people who face similar challenges. I hope you find the support and help you need here. :slight_smile:

Wow, thank you so much!! This is so helpful. I really appreciate your advice.