The Link Between Impulsivity  ADHD in Adults

Impulsive behavior: We think we know it when we see it. If we’re the ones caught up in hard-to-control urges or rash actions that cause trouble, we may feel embarrassed and guilty. Those struggling with it deal with both their own emotional responses plus the effects of their behavior on others. Adults with ADHD are more prone to act impulsively, but why? This short guide explores impulsivity in adults plus some possible solutions for the problem.

What Defines Impulsive Behavior?

Anything that causes executive functioning issues can result in impulsive behavior. The prefrontal cortex handles executive functioning: planning, focusing, attention, remembering instructions and coordinating several tasks simultaneously. It’s also the part of the brain that enacts impulse control and decides what to do about our emotions.

We talk about impulsive behavior, but how do we define it? When people act impulsively, it means they’ve done or said something without considering the consequences. These behaviors in adults are often harmful:

  • Binge eating
  • Overspending
  • Risky sexual activity
  • Emotional outbursts
  • Self-harm
  • Property destruction
  • Abruptly quitting jobs, school, projects and the like

Impulsivity as an ADHD Symptom

Young children may be naturally impulsive, but many learn to better manage their impulses as they grow older and learn. While impulsivity may be considered a moral failing in many cultures, there are sometimes biological and/or neurological causes behind the scenes.

Neurological wiring and the prefrontal cortex play important roles in governing impulses. People with ADHD struggle with this because they may not think about what they say and do beforehand. This isn’t necessarily malicious behavior: Again, it’s because executive functioning may be impaired. But why? Scientists are unpacking the answers to this question, but they’ve discovered a link between executive functioning challenges and S-100B, a critical protein that aids neuron communication.

S-100B is a calcium-binding protein, keeping calcium levels within normal range. It also helps neurons communicate with each other. When there’s too much S-100B floating around in our bodies, it can overexcite our nervous systems. That overexcitement could lead to irritation, anxiety and executive functioning challenges, including lack of focus and impulse control.

Non-Prescription Solutions

Adults with ADHD have many options for managing their mental and emotional health. Deliberate lifestyle practices may help with issues such as memory, task focus and scheduling. Self-awareness and mindfulness strategies could enable you to recognize potential trouble spots and develop alternatives for impulsive behavior.

Meanwhile, you may also find non-prescription OTC anxiety meds beneficial in combating impulsive behavior. Brillia contains an antibody to the S-100B protein. Also known as Lapine S-100B immune globulin, its sole purpose is to bind to and reduce levels of S-100B in the body. Once those levels are back within normal ranges, symptoms such as anxiety, irritability, lack of focus and impulsivity typically diminish. Because Brillia contains only the S-100B antibody, it has no side effects.

Managing Impulsivity Naturally

ADHD and impulsive behavior frequently go hand-in-hand. Adults may find it challenging to put the brakes on harmful impulses, but there are options that can help. Lifestyle changes, mindfulness and mild anxiety medication over the counter such as Brillia can be very useful in gaining more control over one’s actions.


Award-winning writer, blogger, social media consultant and charity campaigner. Social Media Manager for BritMums, the UK's largest parent blogging network Freelance clients include Firefly Communications and Save the Children UK. Works with brands on marketing projects. Examples include Visit Orlando, Give As You Live, Coca-Cola and Kodak. Cambridge Law graduate with many years experience working across three sectors in advice, media relations, events, training and project management. Available for hire at affordable rates.

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