Understanding Adult ADHD

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Thanks in part to widespread media coverage of Attention Deficit Disorder and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorde among children, many inaccurately assume these conditions are exclusive to children. However, there are adults who experience similar symptoms.

ADD and ADHD are often misunderstood and misdiagnosed. Characteristics of both conditions can be carried over into adulthood. ADD is the colloquial name given to the ADHD condition when hyperactivity or impulsive behaviors are not present. However, the American Psychiatric Association formally recognizes ADHD as the clinical term for all attention deficit or hyperactivity issues.

Adults who have trouble concentrating at work, feel they can never get fully organized or remember to keep appointments actually may be experiencing ADHD. Many adults carry over ADHD tendencies from childhood. If the disorder was not diagnosed during childhood, an adult may not know he or she has it. The National Institute of Mental Health offers that roughly 4 percent of the adult U.S. population has ADHD. Of those people, around 40 percent have severe symptoms.

Just like children, adults can be assessed by a mental health professional to see if ADHD may be the culprit behind some of their problems. This person will use a ratings system to see if the person meets the diagnostic criteria for ADHD. Questions about childhood behaviors may be asked and a psychological test may be conducted.

It can be important for an adult to receive a confirmation of ADHD, because only then can he or she begin treatment. This may include medications or behavioral therapy to alleviate symptoms. Left untreated, ADHD can have a profound impact on quality of life. Many adults with the disorder find it is difficult to pay bills or manage money, leading to financial problems. Others may miss appointments or have trouble performing on the job. Behavioral issues may be frowned on by supervisors and seen as bucking the system.

Adolescents and adult students may experience many of the same hurdles as younger children in school. The inability to concentrate or behave in a classroom setting can compromise learning ability and advancement.

Adults with ADHD may find the disorder has negative effects on a marriage or other relationship. Getting a firm diagnosis can help the patient and the other person work on a system that helps them function and promote the relationship.

Symptoms of ADHD

Adults can experience impulsivity and hyperactivity and be easily distracted. Impulsivity in adults may include behaviors such as gambling or drinking, promiscuity or engaging in verbal outbursts.

Hyperactivity is showcased through restlessness and fidgeting. A person may not be able to stay still for long or possibly have a nervous tick.

With distractibility, adults may not be able to focus on one task, jumping from thing to thing and leaving projects unfinished. Boredom may come frequently.

Recognizing the symptoms of adult ADHD can mean faster diagnosis and treatment options that can restore quality of life.