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ADHD in Men: Symptoms, Testing & Treatment

ADHD in Men: Symptoms, Testing & Treatment

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What is Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder?

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, or ADHD, is one of the most prevalent pediatric psychiatric conditions. This neurological illness causes focus, hyperactivity, and impulsivity issues. In the United States, 4% of adults and 9% of children have ADHD, and many live with symptoms all their lives.1 ADHD can affect adults and children, though it is commonly diagnosed in childhood and lasts well into adulthood.

ADHD in adult men (5.4%) is consistently more prevalent than in females (3.2%), with symptoms of hyperactivity/impulsivity being more common in men than inattentiveness.2 In addition, 13% of men will receive an ADHD diagnosis at some point in their lives, while only 4.2% of women will, making males about three times more likely than females to receive an ADHD diagnosis. Furthermore, native English-speaking males are four times more likely to receive an ADHD diagnosis than in households where English is the second language.3

There are three types of ADHD:4

  • Predominantly Inattentive: People with this type of ADHD struggle to focus, complete work, and follow instructions.
  • Predominantly hyperactive-impulsive: This kind is characterized by hyperactive-impulsive conduct, such as fidgeting, interrupting others, and being unable to wait for one’s turn.
  • Combined hyperactive-impulsive and inattentive: This form of ADHD is the most typical kind. It manifests as a combination of inattentive and hyperactive-impulsive characteristics. This could involve a lack of concentration, a tendency toward impulsivity, and excessive amounts of energy and activity.

Whether or not a patient exhibits hyperactivity-related symptoms, ADHD is the mental health condition’s official medical term. Disorganization, lack of focus, and forgetfulness are among the symptoms of inattentive-type ADHD, commonly referred to by the now-outdated label ADD.5

Symptoms of ADHD in Men

ADHD symptoms in men might not be as obvious as those of children with ADHD. Adults may experience less hyperactivity but still suffer from impulsivity, restlessness, and focus issues. In addition, low self-esteem, unstable relationships, subpar career or academic performance, and other issues can result from adult ADHD.6

Because certain symptoms of ADHD are similar to those of other conditions, like anxiety or mood disorders, diagnosing ADHD in men can be challenging. Additionally, many adults with ADHD also suffer from at least one other mental illness, such as anxiety or depression.

Inattentive Symptoms of ADHD in Men

ADHD symptoms in adult men with the inattentive type involve problems focusing, distraction, struggles with organization and finishing tasks, and frequently forgetting daily responsibilities, like paying bills on time.7

  • Issues with prioritization and disorganization
  • Inability to focus
  • Lack of paying attention
  • Poor time management skills
  • Difficulty multitasking
  • Problems following through or completing things
  • Challenges in building and maintaining relationships
  • Struggle following verbal instructions

Hyperactivity/Impulsivity Symptoms of ADHD in Men

ADHD symptoms in men with the hyperactive and impulsive type may include excessive chatting or intense agitation. An impulsive person may behave without thinking, struggle with self-control, and/or require instant gratification.

  • Excessive activity or agitation
  • Restlessness
  • Hot-tempered
  • Persistent mood swings
  • Lack of stress coping skills
  • More inclined to speed when operating a vehicle
  • Difficult controlling emotions

Insurance may be able to help cover the cost of ADHD treatment for men. Find out if your insurance provider can help with the costs by filling in our confidential insurance verification form below.

Causes & Risk Factors of ADHD in Men

Even though it is unclear what causes ADHD, research is still being done. However, the following factors could play a role in the development of ADHD:

  • Genetics: Studies have shown that there may be a genetic component to ADHD, which can run in families.
  • Environment: Environmental factors, like lead exposure as a child, may also raise the risk.
  • Developmental issues: Central nervous system issues throughout critical periods of development could be a factor.

ADHD risk could increase if:

  • You have close blood relatives with ADHD or other mental disorders.
  • During pregnancy, your mother took drugs, alcohol, or both.
  • You were exposed to environmental contaminants as a child, like lead, primarily found in paint and pipes in older structures.
  • You were born prematurely.

ADHD Testing & Diagnosis

If any of the symptoms mentioned above continually disrupt your life, you should talk to your doctor about whether you might have ADHD. Unfortunately, ADHD does not have a specific test. Instead, mental health professionals use a variety of exams, tests, and other information to diagnose ADHD clinically.

Various health care specialists may make diagnoses and carry out ADHD assessments, including your primary care physician, a neurologist, or a psychologist. Make an appointment with an ADHD doctor with experience and training in treating patients older than 17 since ADHD in adults is less typical than in children and adolescents.8

An ADHD diagnosis considers the following:

  • An interview to rule out other possible explanations of symptoms, such as environmental issues.
  • Medical background – A doctor will discuss your social, emotional, educational, and behavioral history.
  • A physical examination.
  • ADHD behavior rating scales or checklists.

Treatment & Outlook for ADHD in Men

Your doctor will recommend treatment options based on your symptoms. Treatment for ADHD in male adults frequently entails medication, therapy, and learning behavior management techniques.

ADHD in adult males is typically addressed with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). This therapy treatment can help you realize how your ideas influence your actions. In addition, CBT works to reframe your beliefs, giving you more control over your symptoms resulting in more positive behaviors.

CBT can also assist with ADHD symptoms in men in the following ways:

  • Controlling unpleasant feelings
  • Adjusting unfavorable expectations
  • Identifying any behavioral trends
  • Dealing with distressing duties while navigating changes throughout the day
  • Scheduling self-care and satisfaction activities
  • Modifying destructive habits

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is another behavior therapy option for ADHD in men. Based on CBT, DBT was initially developed to help with emotional self-regulation issues in personality disorders. However, with the help of more flexible, adaptable thinking, skills training, and the therapist’s encouragement, there is a heavy emphasis on self-acceptance and the capacity for change.\9

The main areas of attention in DBT’s skills training include:

  • Mindfulness
  • Distress tolerance (managing actual or perceived emotional suffering)
  • Emotion regulation
  • Interpersonal interactions

Support groups can also be an excellent source to develop coping mechanisms and methods for managing your ADHD. It might be challenging for you to interact with others, and you can acquire and practice critical social skills in a support group led by a professional.10

In addition to therapy, finding the right medicine is essential to treating ADHD effectively. The appropriate medication management can reduce negative side effects while resolving issues caused by your ADHD. ADHD counseling that includes medications and behavioral treatment can be very beneficial when the prescribed meds are altered in response to your health and reaction.

Medications used to treat ADHD include:

  • Stimulants: Although hyperactivity is one of the signs of ADHD, this does not necessarily mean that the person is overstimulated. Not all people with ADHD show signs of hyperactivity. Those who fit the profile of being hyperactive but not overstimulated are frequently advised to take stimulants. Stimulants increase blood flow to the brain’s prefrontal cortex, strengthening the neural channel for better communication. Reasoning, organizing, and planning are all functions of the prefrontal cortex. Additionally, stimulants increase vigor, alertness, and concentration.11 Dopamine is a neurotransmitter linked to pleasure, movement, and attention. It is the primary neurotransmitter that all stimulants increase in the brain. Similar to how dopamine is naturally produced in the brain, stimulants act therapeutically by continuously and gradually boosting dopamine levels.12
    • Common stimulants include:
      • Adderall
      • Ritalin
      • Concerta
      • Focalin XR
  • Non-Stimulants: Non-stimulant drugs are typically referred to as SNRIs (selective norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors). Increasing dopamine and norepinephrine levels in the brain’s prefrontal cortex affect a patient’s behavior. Agitation, sleeplessness, or decreased appetite are not common side effects of non-stimulants. They also don’t pose the same abuse or addiction risks as stimulants. Furthermore, compared to many stimulants, they also have a more persistent and progressive effect.13 If the adverse effects of stimulants are excessively severe or offer no benefit, non-stimulants should be used. Additionally, non-stimulants are advantageous for people with bipolar disorder, cardiac disease, or drug use history.14
    • Common stimulants include:
      • Strattera
      • Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs)
      • Wellbutrin
      • Effexor
      • Clonidine (Kapvay)
      • Guanfacine (Intuniv)
      • Viloxazine (Qelbree)

Although your symptoms of ADHD may become milder as you mature, the condition does not go away. Unfortunately, there doesn’t appear to be any supplement, physical activity, alternative therapy, or intense motivation that can restore normal brain function in those with ADHD.

That said, it is possible to lead a normal, healthy life with ADHD, though not always.15 Many individuals who have received ADHD treatment live without symptoms and can function at their best. Proper care and assistance make it possible to manage ADHD well.

In the United States, adult diagnoses of ADHD are increasing four times faster than childhood diagnoses (26.4% versus 123.3%). However, in contrast to children, scientists still believe adults are underdiagnosed with ADHD.16

If entirely left untreated, ADHD in men can lead to one or more of the following:

  • Low self-esteem
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Relationship problems
  • Job instability
  • Substance abuse
  • Increased mortality

With Athena Care’s multiple mental health clinics in Tennessee, getting the help you need for your ADHD is just a phone call away. A care coordinator can assist you with any questions or concerns regarding ADHD testing and treatment Monday through Friday, 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.


  1. “Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).” National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/attention-deficit-hyperactivity-disorder-adhd. Accessed 31 Aug. 2022.
  2. Faraone, Stephen V., et al. “The World Federation of ADHD International Consensus Statement: 208 Evidence-Based Conclusions about the Disorder.” Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, vol. 128, 2021, pp. 789–818. Crossref, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neubiorev.2021.01.022.
  3. “ADHD Numbers: Facts, Statistics, and You.” The ADD Resource Center, The ADD Resource Center, 24 Oct. 2017, www.addrc.org/adhd-numbers-facts-statistics-and-you.
  4. The Healthline Editorial Team. “ADHD Treatment Options: Therapy, Medication, and More.” Healthline, Healthline Media, 13 Dec. 2021, www.healthline.com/health/adhd/treatment-overview#3.
  5. ADDitude Editors, and William Dodson MD. “ADD vs. ADHD: What’s the Difference in Symptoms?” ADDitude, WebMD LLC, 18 Apr. 2022, www.additudemag.com/slideshows/add-vs-adhd.
  6. Mayo Clinic Staff. “Adult Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) – Symptoms and Causes.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (MFMER), 22 June 2019, www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/adult-adhd/symptoms-causes/syc-20350878.
  7. “ADHD Inattentive Type in Adults: Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment.” Cleveland Clinic, 25 Sept. 2019, my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/15253-attention-deficit-disorder-without-hyperactivity-add-in-adults.
  8. “Diagnosing ADHD in Adults: How Adults Are Tested for ADHD.” WebMD, WebMD, LLC, 26 Jan. 2021, www.webmd.com/add-adhd/diagnosing-adhd-adults.
  9. Katz, Mark, PhD. “Dialectical Behavior Therapy Gets Our Attention.” CHADD, chadd.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/ATTN_02_15_DialectcalBehavior.pdf. Accessed 1 Sept. 2022.
  10. Belsky, Gail. “ADHD Treatment Options.” Understood.Org, Understood for All Inc., 18 Oct. 2021, www.understood.org/en/articles/treatment-for-kids-with-adhd.
  11. “Prescription Stimulants DrugFacts.” National Institute on Drug Abuse, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 22 Mar. 2022, nida.nih.gov/publications/drugfacts/prescription-stimulants.
  12. “Stimulant ADHD Medications: Methylphenidate and Amphetamines.” National Institute on Drug Abuse, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Jan. 2014, https://nida.nih.gov/sites/default/files/drugfacts_stimulantadhd_1.pdf.
  13. “Nonstimulants and Other ADHD Drugs.” WebMD, WebMD LLC., 1 July 2004, www.webmd.com/add-adhd/adhd-nonstimulant-drugs-therapy.
  14. Low, Keath. “Non-Stimulant Medications to Treat ADHD That Have Less Side Effects.” Verywell Mind, Dotdash Media, Inc., 19 May 2022, www.verywellmind.com/non-stimulant-adhd-medication-20884.
  15. Silver, Larry, MD. “Can You Make It Without ADHD Medication?” ADDitude, WebMD LLC, 30 Mar. 2022, www.additudemag.com/can-you-make-it-without-adhd-medication.
  16. Chung, Winston, et al. “Trends in the Prevalence and Incidence of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder Among Adults and Children of Different Racial and Ethnic Groups.” JAMA Network Open, vol. 2, no. 11, 2019, p. e1914344. Crossref, https://doi.org/10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2019.14344.

If you suspect that you or someone you love suffers from mental health disorders, contact Athena Care today.

One of our friendly associates will help you get the help you need. Take this first step to feel better and take control. 

(615) 320-1155