Common ADHD Signs in Adults: By Type

There are three recognized presentations of ADHD: 

  • Predominantly inattentive type,

  • Hyperactive-impulsive type,

  • And Combined type.

You might have a certain image in your mind of what a person with ADHD acts like. But depending on what type of ADHD someone has, their symptoms might differ widely. It’s important to know that there are different presentations of ADHD, so that you can recognize ADHD in yourself if you have it.

Related: ADHD Types: Hyperactive, Inattentive, Combined

Here are the most common signs and symptoms for every adult ADHD type.

Medically reviewed

Last update: August 17, 2022
Illustrations of literal ADHD signs

Table of contents

    Signs of predominantly inattentive ADHD

    1. You’re constantly losing things: your keys, your phone, your passport.

    2. You make lots of careless mistakes at work, home or school like getting dates wrong, making mistakes following instructions or emailing the wrong person.

    3. You’re easily distracted, and find it hard to pay attention through a whole movie or lecture. You may find yourself frequently struggling to pay attention while driving or accidentally walk in front of traffic. 

    4. You sometimes lose track of a conversation — while the other person is still replying.

    5. You often have to ask people to repeat instructions because your mind has wandered off.

    6. Starting, or finishing, a project feels impossible and overwhelming. You may have several abandoned projects surrounding you at any given time.

    7. You’ve missed deadlines or meetings, not because you don’t care but because you simply forget.

    8. You put off working on those tedious tasks (like chores, paperwork or paying bills). Sometimes this procrastination can lead to problems like late fees. 

    9. Your friends complain that you never call them back when you’ve promised to or you miss important dates like birthdays or anniversaries. 

    10. You get sidetracked, go off on tangents, or start doing one thing when you’re already in the middle of something else.

    11. Following instructions is extremely difficult and you often find yourself skipping ahead, landing in the middle then forgetting where you are.

    12. You might feel impatient and frustrated when things aren’t moving “fast enough”. Reading a book is plagued by a constant need to skip ahead to the action or the ending.

    Women & ADHD Types

    Women are more likely to have the inattentive type of ADHD. This contributes to the fact that girls and women are underdiagnosed with ADHD. Kids with inattentive ADHD don’t tend to have as many behavioral difficulties as kids with hyperactive ADHD, which means that teachers may overlook them.

    Related: How ADHD Is Different in Women

    Signs of hyperactive-impulsive ADHD

    1. You can’t sit through a long meeting or lecture without getting out of your chair or feeling frustrated about remaining seated.

    2. You’re always fidgeting or squirming, like swiveling in your chair or tapping your pencil.

    3. People have told you you talk too much.

    4. You hate waiting in lines and you’ll do anything to avoid it.

    5. You have no “filter” and you blurt out anything that comes to you without thinking about it first.

    6. You often have angry or irritable outbursts, but then find that you no longer feel angry just five minutes later.

    7. You interrupt people or finish their sentences — but you’re not trying to be rude!

    8. You feel like you have an internal motor that’s always on turbospeed. You need to go, go, go!

    9. You’ve been told you’re impulsive, and you’ve made decisions you’ve regretted because you didn’t think them through first.

    10. It feels almost impossible, or takes you a long time, to wind down or fall asleep at the end of a long day.

    11. You can’t stop yourself from jumping in on projects or activities you find compelling, even if the person didn’t invite you to join them. 

    12. You feel like you constantly have a ball of nervous energy inside that needs an outlet. Intense physical activity likely brings you a great deal of calm. 

    Related: How ADHD Affects Your Sleep and What You Can Do About It

    Signs of combined type ADHD

    If you can see yourself in both of these lists, then you may have the combined presentation of ADHD. This is the most common type of ADHD.

    If you think you have ADHD, take Frida’s free assessment. It only takes 2 minutes and can tell you whether you may be eligible for a diagnosis. There are lots of different treatment options available, from medication to behavioral therapy. Life with ADHD is hard, but it gets better with support.

    Lisa Batten, PhD, CPT, PN1

    Lisa Batten is a clinical scientist, therapist, and writer specializing in neuroscience and clinical pharmacology. She has a master’s degree in clinical psychology and a Ph.D. in developmental psychology.