What is ADHD? Signs and symptoms as Sheridan Smith reveals diagnosis

Sheridan Smith attending the Olivier Awards at the Royal Albert Hall, London. Picture date: Sunday April 2, 2023. (Photo by Jordan Pettitt/PA Images via Getty Images)
Sheridan Smith has revealed her diagnosis with ADHD at age 42. (Getty Images)

Sheridan Smith has revealed that she has been diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) at the age of 42.

The Castaways star opened up about the diagnosis in a new interview with British Vogue and said it has "helped her make sense of a lot of things" in her life.

Smith, an Olivier Award winner, spoke of experiencing "brain background noise", which her diagnosis has helped her understand better.

"I never know what to say and I overthink," the mother-of-one told the magazine, adding that she was always "overanalysing" little things like how to reply to a WhatsApp group.

It comes after Sam Thompson opened up about his own diagnosis of ADHD on I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here! last year.

The former Made In Chelsea star, 31, said he was diagnosed with ADHD last year and told his campmates about his experiences at school, adding that he wished he'd been diagnosed with the condition earlier.

Sam Thompson's first TV interview since winning I'm A Celebrity (ITV screengrab)
Sam Thompson's first TV interview since winning I'm A Celebrity (ITV screengrab)

"No-one really spotted it beforehand at school, but if you look at all of my report cards, every single one says the same, it says: 'Likeable enough guy, but lacks focus'.

"It’s staring at you in the face. If I’d known as a kid, not much would have changed, but how you feel about yourself probably changes.

"I remember crying into my textbook because I can’t understand the words that are going into my head.

"You want to do good. You don’t want to be mischievous or anything like that."

Later, in the Bush Telegraph Thompson said: "I’m not ashamed of having ADHD in any way.

"But I know that I would have felt better about myself at school if I had been diagnosed with it at a younger age.

"Because I really was just like: 'I just suck at everything.'"

A growing number of celebrities have been opening up about having ADHD in recent years. John Whaite also discussed his diagnosis, describing it as "the most liberating thing".

John Thwaite and Olivia Attwood have also discussed their ADHD diagnoses. (Getty Images)
John Thwaite and Olivia Attwood have also discussed their ADHD diagnoses. (Getty Images)

Olivia Attwood previously discussed being diagnosed with ADHD as an adult, revealing how it impacts her everyday life. The former Love Island contestant, 32, spoke about the condition while appearing on ITV's Loose Women, explaining that she was diagnosed while seeking treatment for anxiety and depression.

What is ADHD?

Many think of ADHD as a childhood condition, but a growing number of people in the UK are being diagnosed with the condition in adulthood.

According to the NHS, ADHD is a condition that affects people's behaviour. People with ADHD can seem restless, may have trouble concentrating and may act on impulse.

The exact cause of ADHD is unknown, but it has been shown to run in families.

Watch: Shaun Ryder opens up about how his ADHD led to his drug abuse.

What are the symptoms of adult ADHD?

While symptoms are similar for both adults and children, elements can differ or change as we get older.

"Adult symptoms of ADHD also tend to be far more subtle than childhood symptoms," the NHS explains.

Some specialists have suggested the following as a list of symptoms associated with ADHD in adults:

  • carelessness and lack of attention to detail

  • continually starting new tasks before finishing old ones

  • poor organisational skills

  • inability to focus or prioritise

  • continually losing or misplacing things

  • forgetfulness

  • restlessness and edginess

  • difficulty keeping quiet, and speaking out of turn

  • blurting out responses and often interrupting others

  • mood swings, irritability and a quick temper

  • inability to deal with stress

  • extreme impatience

  • taking risks in activities, often with little or no regard for personal safety or the safety of others – for example, driving dangerously

ADHD symptoms in women may be more subtle, including anxiety and low self-esteem, according to the Priory.

The symptoms of adult ADHD are similar to that in children but more difficult to define. (Getty Images)
The symptoms of adult ADHD are similar to that in children but more difficult to define. (Getty Images)

How is ADHD treated?

Although there's no cure for ADHD, it can be managed with the right support, alongside medication, if necessary.

Signs and symptoms of ADHD in children

According to the NHS, the symptoms of ADHD in children and teenagers are well-defined.

Children may have symptoms of inattentiveness, as well as hyperactivity and impulsiveness (or just one category).

Inattentiveness (difficulty concentrating and focusing)

The main signs are:

  • having a short attention span and being easily distracted

  • making careless mistakes – for example, in schoolwork

  • appearing forgetful or losing things

  • being unable to stick to tasks that are tedious or time-consuming

  • appearing to be unable to listen to or carry out instructions

  • constantly changing activity or task

  • having difficulty organising tasks

Hyperactivity and impulsiveness

The main signs of are:

  • being unable to sit still, especially in calm or quiet surroundings

  • constantly fidgeting

  • being unable to concentrate on tasks

  • excessive physical movement

  • excessive talking

  • being unable to wait their turn

  • acting without thinking

  • interrupting conversations

  • little or no sense of danger

For more information, see the NHS website.

This article was first published in June 2021 and has been updated

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