Adult ADHD in social situations
Social activity of one sort or another is where many people relax, are part of groups, engage in hobbies or sport, make friends and build lasting relationships. Social situations are often highly rewarding, however, they can present some difficult challenges for people with ADHD.
Substance abuse in patients with ADHD reduces by 30-35% during periods of ADHD treatment.
Attention deficit symptoms
In social situations, the attention deficit symptoms of ADHD can present a number of problems. Some people face challenges in organising themselves to prepare for social activity as well as engaging in it.
People with ADHD can have trouble getting on with others in social situations, although this is not always the case and some may be very sociable. They may get bored with conversation quickly and be prone to butting in or saying or doing inappropriate things without thinking.
Some make friends easily but then struggle to stay in touch, forgetting to reply to messages or turn up at social events that have been arranged. They become ‘unreliable’ or others think that they are not interested. They may even be excluded.
Even after initial enthusiasm for a new hobby or group activity, some people may become quickly bored and want to switch to something else. They can then become frustrated with the time and, sometimes, expense that they have wasted.
It is easy for people with ADHD to lose confidence and feel frustrated with themselves or others. They may get discouraged and can even feel incompetent and unhappy with their lives because of these difficulties. Some withdraw from social activities and become isolated as a result.
Research shows that emergency ward visits by patients with ADHD reduce by 45% during periods of ADHD treatment.
Some people with ADHD can find it difficult to focus on conversations and drift off. This makes them appear rude and disinterested, which may be frustrating and not what they intended.
It may be particularly difficult to listen in and focus on a conversation in noisy environments when it is hard to filter out the background noise eg in a pub. The sights and sounds going on around you are distracting and it can make it hard to stay tuned in and focused.
In social situations, the hyperactivity symptoms of ADHD can initially be a positive if people are seen to be enthusiastic and fully involved. This can change over time if a person becomes impulsive or disruptive.
Hyperactivity in ADHD can make it hard to focus on social conversations, activities or when being instructed in a new hobby. A restless mind may flit off in different directions and and become interested or absorbed in other things.
Impatience can also make it hard for people to say what they want. It is common to just wish someone would hurry up and say what they have to say more quickly.
People with ADHD are often the first to get up from the table after a meal as it is too difficult to remain seated. This can make them come across as disinterested. In turn, they can become socially anxious and feel that they have been negatively judged in the past and fear being negatively judged again.
Studies show that 8% of adults with ADHD also suffer from generalised anxiety disorder.
Impulsive behaviour, not thinking before saying or doing something, can lead to saying inappropriate or unkind things or to make unwise decisions that you may regret afterwards and this can aversely affect relationships with friends.
Impulsivity means that sex without protection can be more likely. Unplanned and teenage pregnancies are higher than average in people with ADHD. Sexually transmitted diseases can also occur.
Hyperactivity and impulsivity are related to the disorganisation of many people with ADHD and often equate with a lack of thinking ahead and poor planning.
People with ADHD find that delayed gratification is a challenge, so they are less likely to find the willpower to abstain once they have something in mind that want to do, even if this may be unwise.
Using cannabis or taking ‘street drugs’ is more common in ADHD as is drinking alcohol to excess. Some of this is to self medicate for the restlessness that can occur. Some of it is because ADHD can cause a person to be a ‘thrill seeker’.
Mood instability symptoms
In social situations, the mood instability symptoms of ADHD can severely affect a persons ability to maintain friendships and be included in group activities, leading to isolation and regret.
Anger and irritability can mean that getting into arguments or being verbally or physically aggressive can be common in ADHD.
ADHD is related to over eating and being overweight. This may be because of a lack of impulse control.
People with mood instability are more likely to over-react, sometimes violently, in some social situations, potentially leading to the involvement of the police.
It can be difficult to maintain co-operation with others in social groups and this can lead to difficulty getting along with people and enjoying time with others in group hobbies and activities.
Mood instability can lead to arguing and fighting. In some cases, people are asked to leave social groups. If this happens repeatedly, some people with ADHD become frustrated, lose self-confidence and isolate themselves from social situations.
Driving may be a problem - mood instability may mean that you are prone to getting annoyed by other drivers and road rage can be a problem. There is a higher accident rate in drivers with ADHD.
The Impact of ADHD
ADHD can severely affect an individual’s education, working life, home life, relationships and social life.
Who can be affected by ADHD?
ADHD occurs in both males and females and across all ages and all levels of social status, intelligence and capability.