Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, impacts people throughout their lives, but how it shows up can change dramatically. While children with ADHD might be bursting with energy and struggle to focus in class, adults may experience challenges with organisation, time management, and staying on task at work. Though some symptoms may lessen with age, others can become more prominent, making ADHD a lifelong journey of understanding and managing its effects.

It’s difficult to to pinpoint an age where ADHD is the hardest, however let’s break it down for a better understanding.

Age & Symptoms Overview

Age Range Common Symptoms
1-6 Years
  • Difficulty following instructions or staying still
  • Frequent tantrums and meltdowns
  • Excessive energy and restlessness
7-12 Years
  • Difficulty focusing in school and completing tasks
  • Disorganisation and forgetfulness
  • Fidgeting and impulsivity
  • Difficulty making friends or social awkwardness
13-18 Years
  • Difficulty managing emotions
  • Poor time management and procrastination
  • Risk-taking behaviour
  • Difficulty with academic performance
19-30 Years
  • Difficulty staying on task at work
  • Problems with organisation and planning
  • Impulsive decision-making affecting finances or relationships
  • Feeling overwhelmed and stressed
31-40 Years
  • Difficulty maintaining focus during meetings or presentations
  • Chronic procrastination leading to missed deadlines
  • Restlessness and fidgeting even in professional settings
  • Relationship difficulties due to communication issues
41-50 Years
  • Increased challenges with focus and concentration
  • Difficulty managing time effectively, leading to increased stress
  • Symptoms may be mistaken for age-related memory decline
  • Difficulty staying motivated and completing long-term goals

While ADHD is a lifelong condition, its impact can vary greatly depending on age. In childhood, hyperactivity and impulsivity are often at their peak, leading to struggles in school and social situations. As teenagers and young adults, hyperactivity may decrease, but challenges with organisation, focus, and managing emotions can take centre stage, making this a particularly demanding period. Reaching adulthood doesn’t necessarily mean smoother sailing, as issues with time management, staying on task, and relationships can persist. It’s important to remember that ADHD affects everyone differently, with some experiencing significant challenges throughout their lives, while others develop strong coping mechanisms.

ADHD Symptom Difficulty Pie Chart

The pie chart shows the percentage of respondents who rated each symptom as difficult, with the symptom names listed as labels. The colours differentiate each symptom category, and the chart key indicates the symptom.

What are The hardest Aspects Of Having ADHD?

Living with ADHD can present various challenges, and what’s most difficult can vary from person to person. However, some common challenges that many individuals with ADHD face include:

Difficulty with Attention and Focus

One of the hallmark symptoms of ADHD is difficulty sustaining attention on tasks, especially those that are repetitive or mundane. This can make it challenging to stay focused in school, at work, or during conversations, leading to issues with completing tasks and following through on commitments.


Individuals with ADHD often struggle with impulsivity, which can manifest as acting without thinking about the consequences, interrupting others during conversations, or making impulsive decisions that may have negative outcomes.


While not everyone with ADHD experiences hyperactivity, it can be a significant challenge for those who do. Hyperactivity can lead to restlessness, fidgeting, and difficulty sitting still for extended periods, which can interfere with daily activities and social interactions.

Organisation and Time Management

Many people with ADHD have difficulty with organisation and time management. This can result in missed deadlines, forgetting appointments or obligations, and feeling overwhelmed by tasks that seem insurmountable.


Emotional Regulation

ADHD can also affect emotional regulation, leading to mood swings, irritability, and difficulty managing emotions. This can strain relationships and make it challenging to cope with stress or frustration.

Social Challenges

Some individuals with ADHD may struggle with social interactions, including difficulty reading social cues, maintaining friendships, or fitting in with peers. This can lead to feelings of isolation and low self-esteem.

Coexisting Conditions

ADHD often coexists with other mental health conditions, such as anxiety, depression, or learning disabilities, which can further complicate treatment and management.

Overall, managing ADHD requires a combination of strategies, including medication, therapy, behavioural interventions, and lifestyle adjustments. It’s essential for individuals with ADHD to seek support from healthcare professionals, develop coping mechanisms, and build a support network to help navigate the challenges they face.