When most people thinking of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), they may picture someone who is fidgety or someone who gets easily distracted. But some people can have ADHD without even realizing it, and some of the signs of high-functioning ADHD can actually be surprising. The disorder can involve more than just the inability to focus on one thing at once, and it can affect areas of your life that you might not realize.
"In general, when someone has a diagnosis of ADHD, it usually describes a collection of symptoms and life impairments," psychologist Dr. Laura L. Walsh tells Bustle. "It's slightly different for everyone and changes as a person grows from being a child, with relatively few coping skills, to adulthood. Inattention symptoms typically manifest as difficulty controlling focus, disorganization, forgetfulness, and chronic lateness."
Some people have these symptoms, but still manage to make it through life without much issue — hence the term "high-functioning." However, learning that you may have this disorder can help you improve even more, even if you are managing to function well without being aware of the disorder's presence.
If you exhibit some of these nine surprising signs, there's a chance you may have high-functioning ADHD, and you may want to speak to a doctor or psychologist.
1You Have Difficulty Finding The Right Words
People with ADHD often have difficulty finding the "right" word when speaking. "Sometimes the ADHD brain moves faster than you can speak, so words may be tripped over," clinical psychotherapist and ADHD expert Stephanie Sarkis, PhD tells Bustle. "Also, quite a few people with ADHD also have social anxiety, which can worsen this tripping over words."
2You Have Difficulty With Right & Left Directions
Many people with high-functioning ADHD find that they struggle with “right" and “left", and directions. "I refer to it as 'left and right dyslexia,'" says Sarkis. "This is possibly tied to the fact that 50 percent of people with ADHD have learning disabilities." If you are not the best with directions, it does not necessarily mean you have ADHD, but if it is accompanied by other symptoms, it may be a good idea to be evaluated by a psychologist.
3You Experience Fatigue At Work
Exhaustion during the workday can be a result of ADHD. "If you have untreated ADHD, you have to really work at making yourself focus," says Sarkis. "This can lead to you being exhausted at the end of the day."
4You Hyperfocus On Things That Interest You
"It is commonly thought that if you have laser-sharp focus that you don’t have ADHD," says Sarkis. "However, ADHD is actually a problem with motivation, not attention. Your brain can’t get motivated enough to focus on things that aren’t interesting, and it has difficulty tearing itself away from things that it really likes. Hyperfocus is just as much a symptom of ADHD as lack of focus."
5You Gamble Excessively
People with ADHD have a higher rate of compulsive gambling than the general population. "This is in part due to self-medicating from the excitement of gambling," says Sarkis. "It helps raise the low levels of dopamine, serotonin, norepinephrine, and GABA in the ADHD brain. However, the drawbacks are immense and damaging." If you find gambling to be a problem for you, and you think ADHD may be to blame, speaking with a therapist may help you cope with these symptoms.
6You Have A Tendency To Cheat In Relationships
People with ADHD are more likely to be unfaithful in committed relationships. Again, this is the thrill-seeking and novelty-seeking aspect, and risky sexual behavior boosts dopamine. "There are also some gene mutations that make some people with ADHD more prone to risky sexual behavior than others," says Sarkis. Although this isn't a guarantee, speaking with a doctor if you suspect you may have ADHD can help with impulse control.
7You Might Get Bored During Sex
If you get bored during sex or even fall asleep, you may have ADHD. "People with ADHD have an 'Interest-Based' nervous system and respond strongly to novel experiences," says Dr. Walsh. "Over time, sex, especially with a regular partner, may not be as much of a mental puzzle. This doesn't necessarily indicate a lack of interest in the partner — just a need to vary it up a little."
If you exhibit many of these signs, it's possible you may have high-functioning ADHD, and speaking with a doctor or therapist can help you find the best way to manage your symptoms on a day-to-day basis.