Adult attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is characterized as a neurobehavioral disorder that causes a loss of focus on a particular task for a given amount of time. If you may have adult attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, you may have problems with self-motivation, focus and concentration, self-regulation, organization and prioritization. You may be easily distracted and cannot focus on any one topic for a long period of time. In addition, you may be impulsive and hyperactive. When you have ADHD your intelligence and ability to learn are not affected.
Who Can Develop ADHD?
ADHD typically presents in childhood and persists throughout adulthood. Approximately 60% of adults with this disorder were originally diagnosed during childhood. ADHD can affect your relationships, education and/or employment opportunities. If you have adult ADHD, you may show a decrease in the hyperactivity, but still react impulsively. You may not even realize you have the disorder until someone mentions it to you or it starts to interfere with your daily functioning.
What Are The Long-Term Effects Associated With Adult ADHD?
- Not being able to keep a single job or being productive at work
- Not being able to focus
- Problems accomplishing everyday takes such as: getting out of bed, getting dressed for work and/or arriving at work on time
- Academic decline
- Failed relationships
- Memory problems
- Taking “short cuts” to accomplish tasks
- Illicit drug usage
- Alcohol, drug and/or nicotine abuse or misuse
- Frequent panic attacks
- Frequent bouts of anxiety
- Not able to learn new skills
How is Adult ADHD Diagnosed?
If you suspect that you have ADHD, it is important that you seek help from a qualified mental health professional. Adult ADHD symptoms vary, depending on the individual so it is important that a mental health professional diagnosis you with the condition.
A diagnosis is made from the following:
A History Of Your Symptoms
One of the key criteria for an adult ADHD diagnosis is that the symptoms started during childhood and have persisted throughout adulthood. Mental health professionals use special rating scales designed to determine if you fall into the category of someone who possible has adult ADHD.
An Interview With Family and Friends
A mental health care professional evaluates your past school experiences. Your spouse, parents and siblings are interviewed along with other close associates like your coworkers and friends.
Lastly a battery of psychological tests and a physical exam is performed.
Benefits of an Adult ADHD Diagnosis
Feelings of hopelessness and helplessness can cause you to develop clinical depression therefore you will probably experience a tremendous relief once a clear diagnosis is made. You more than likely have experience ADHD symptoms since childhood so it is a relief to learn what has been affecting you for so many years. In addition, you may feel empowered to change your situation through medication and/or therapy now that you know what ails you. For once in your life you will have the tools necessary to successful cope with your condition.
Treatment of ADHD
Adults and children with ADHD are treated in the same manner. Treatment typically consists of a combination of medication and psychotherapy.
Methods Commonly Used To Treat Adult Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder:
- Stimulants: Stimulants have a small potential for abuse, which means they are prescribed with caution. These medicines also react with other medications so a full medical history is needed before they are prescribed. For example: stimulants may cause a negative reaction if you are taking a blood pressure medication and medications for diabetes or other conditions. All of these facts must be taken into consideration before a physician will prescribe this medication for ADHD.
- Anti-Depressants: If you have adult ADHD, there is a chance that you may develop ADH-related clinical depression. Anti-Depressants are prescribed to help you cope with your feelings of helplessness, hopelessness and despair. Tricyclic antidepressants are mostly commonly used to treat adult-onset depression. The anti-depressant, Wellburtin (Bupropion), has shown some success in treating adult-onset ADHD. Anti-Depressants can react with other medications so they are prescribed with caution.
- Education and Counseling: A professional therapist or a counselor can you live a more organized and structured life. Therapists can provide tools (date books, calendars, organizers, sticky notes and other helpful items) that can help you successfully manage your condition. Your keys, cell phone, documents and other important documents should be kept in a special location. A counselor or a therapist can teach you how to break up large tasks into smaller tasks so that you can successfully accomplish your goals.
- Psychotherapy: Professional psychotherapy which includes cognitive behavioral therapy can teach you how to increase your self-confidence and see yourself in a more positive light. If you are prone to impulsive decisions and behaviors, a counselor or therapist can teach you techniques that will help you think before you act. All of these techniques will help reduce impulsive behaviors that can lead to risk behaviors.
National Institute of Mental Health. (2012). Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Retrieved from http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/attention-deficit-hyperactivity-disorder/complete-index.shtml
Wilens, T. E., Spencer, T. J. & Biederman J. (n.d). Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder across the lifespan. Annual Review of Medicine.
Wilens,T. E., Horrigan, J. P., Rosenthal, N.E., Hudziak, J. J., Haight, B. R., Connor, D. F., Richard, N.E., Hampton, K.D. & Modell, J. G. (n.d). Bupropion XL in adults with ADHD: A randomized, placebo-controlled study. Biological Psychiatry.