For adult men with ADHD, their hyperactivity or inattentiveness may be expressed in specific and unique ways compared with women. Men are often expected to be stoic, reserved, and emotionally withdrawn as a sign of strength—but bottling up the frustration ADHD causes can encourage anger, anxiety, and frustration to build.
Gender-specific factors can present unique challenges for men with ADHD—for whom emotional awareness and expression are key to managing their ADHD symptoms. However, there’s no reason that men with ADHD should be held back by such a highly treatable condition. Follow along below to learn more about how ADHD symptoms affect men and their relationships, daily life, and emotions.
What Are the Symptoms of ADHD in Men?
ADHD symptoms in men aren’t different than in women, children, or other groups. Even so, ADHD in men will produce symptoms that vary depending on the subtype of ADHD the man is coping with: Whether it’s predominantly inattentive, hyperactive, or a combined presentation (both).
Common symptoms of ADHD in men (and in others with ADHD) can include the following:
- Struggling to concentrate in class, at work, or during family time or time spent with partners
- Difficulty controlling sudden mood changes
- A tendency to procrastinate
- Being unable to handle criticism, even when it’s constructive
- Impulsive behavior, acting rashly without weighing out the negative consequences
- Starting and stopping new projects without finishing them
- Struggling to manage time and responsibilities efficiently
- Difficulty socializing due to a tendency to talk over others or become distracted by long-winded rants
- Feelings of restlessness and agitation
- Difficulty following directions
It’s also worth noting that younger men and teens may experience more hyperactivity than older men—age, and the right treatment, often drastically reduces the intensity of ADHD symptoms.
What’s Different About ADHD Symptoms in Men vs. Women?
Mental health professionals are well aware that ADHD is more commonly diagnosed in men and boys than in women and girls. The reasons aren’t entirely clear, but there are a few contributing factors that researchers and clinicians have noted. These include:
- Diagnostic standards that may be biased against boys and men
- The way that clients may express their ADHD symptoms based on gender roles and expectations
- The underdiagnosis of ADHD in women
For now, the differences in how ADHD symptoms differ between sexes remains a partial mystery, but our greater understanding of ADHD as a neurodevelopmental disorder is improving. Researchers are coming to understand that ADHD creates unique differences in processes and cognition. In other words, the ADHD mind is neurodivergent.
What Is It Like Dating a Man with ADHD?
ADHD isn’t diagnosable from your armchair. Still, recognizing the signs listed above is possible. And in romantic relationships, we often grow so close to our partners that we know them better than anyone else.
If you’re dating a man with ADHD, at times he may be confusing, frustrating, and hurtful, just like anyone else. And as with any other interpersonal relationship, there will be unique ups and downs. But ADHD is not always a detriment to someone’s daily life; in fact, ADHD can make some partners more adventurous, self-accepting, and creative.
Men with ADHD may be fantastic listeners, remembering minuscule details about your silly childhood stories, personal interests, or life—details that others forget. However, men with ADHD can run into gender-specific obstacles when it comes to coping with ADHD symptoms. These often involve:
- Difficulty paying attention
- Forgetting small tasks around the house or at work
- Becoming easily frustrated
- A tendency to daydream
- Poor personal hygiene (in some cases)
- Disorganized home or apartment
- Chaotic decision-making skills
If they remain unaddressed, these symptoms can become the source of routine arguments and long-term tension. But occasionally, the negative tendencies listed above are still mistakes that we all make. Have some perspective when it comes to getting frustrated with your partner’s ADHD symptoms.
They’re doing their best—getting angry with them, especially if they’re working to improve, won’t help.
What Mental Health Services and Lifestyle Adjustments Can Help Treat ADHD in Men? 5 Changes to Consider
ADHD in men is best treated with a combination of effective mental health services and lifestyle adjustments that change old habits and ineffective coping skills over time. Below is a general outline of what treatment options and areas of life can be adjusted to help treat ADHD in men.
1. Regular exercise
Even though it sounds a bit basic, regular exercise is still one of the most proven ways to reduce the symptoms of ADHD in men. And there’s no replacement for it, either. Exercise can improve concentration, motivation, memory, and mood in people with and without ADHD.
Research shows that moderate physical activity helps to burn off the extra energy that can lead to impulsive choices. It also helps regulate hormones like testosterone, estrogen, and cortisol, as well as mood influencers like dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin levels—all of which affect the symptoms of ADHD in men.
Exercise can also help the brain to improve connections between neurons in the brain, leading to increased concentration and the ability to relax. Dr. Zubair Haq, Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practioner (PMHNP) at Thriveworks explains that “incorporating both aerobic (walking, jogging, etc.) and anaerobic (yoga, pilates, weight lifting, etc.) is the best form of exercising.”
2. Dietary changes
The old adage that we “are what we eat” seems to be partially factual. Some foods and beverages can actually make the symptoms of ADHD in men worse. Coffee, tea, and highly processed foods can all worsen ADHD symptoms (although coffee may actually help some adults with ADHD).
A doctor or dietician may also help cultivate a more supportive diet for men with ADHD. Foods that are high in fatty acids, like eggs, nuts, fish, legumes, and avocados may help make it easier for men with ADHD to focus and enjoy greater impulse control.
3. Getting Enough Restful Sleep
Male adults with ADHD may experience difficulty falling asleep because their racing thoughts and emotions are keeping them awake. They may also toss and turn throughout the night, waking up feeling irritated and not able to focus throughout the day. On occasion, ADHD medication with a longer-than-necessary release method or the individual taking their medication too close to bedtime can cause insomnia or poor sleep, too.
Lack of sufficient sleep can worsen the symptoms of ADHD. Talking with a provider can help reduce the likelihood that the symptoms of ADHD in men will prevent them from getting a good night’s rest. And if a medication is the source of the insomnia, a psychiatric professional will adjust the medication as appropriate.
4. Attending ADHD Therapy
A therapist’s or counselor’s approach to ADHD treatment focuses on helping the client to become better aware of how ADHD can affect their thoughts, behavior, and the effectiveness of their communication. The unique way in which ADHD can impact someone’s thoughts makes the symptoms of ADHD in men highly treatable through the use of cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT.
CBT from a counselor or therapist is one of the most effective therapeutic methods of ADHD treatment. According to Haq, “therapists and counselors are great at giving lifestyle modifications and interventions to help improve the day-to-day struggles of those dealing with ADHD.” Other dominant forms of therapy for ADHD treatment include couples counseling for adults with ADHD who are in relationships, and family therapy, for ADHD clients of all ages.
5. Medication Management (Psychiatric Care)
ADHD medication is the pillar of effective treatment for the symptoms of ADHD in men and others. The most commonly prescribed medications for ADHD are stimulants; however, these medications, which typically include Adderall, Ritalin, Vyvanse, Focalin, and Dexedrine are carefully regulated by a client’s provider.
There are also safer and equally effective non-stimulant prescription medications that are used to treat ADHD instead, which we choose to prescribe here at Thriveworks – these include Atomoxetine and Viloxazine. The ADHD symptoms in men may be treated best with a highly specialized dosage and release method in order to work best. Men should be open to trying a few different prescription medications with help from their psychiatric provider to find the medication that works best for them.
ADHD is a lifelong condition, but it doesn’t need to be a lifelong hindrance. The symptoms of ADHD in men affect many different parts of an individual’s life: To be successfully managed, these symptoms need lifestyle changes in addition to therapeutic and psychiatric care.