Adult ADHD (Attention-Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder)

1 What is Adult ADHD (Attention-Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder)?

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a mental disorder characterized by hyperactivity, impulsiveness and lack of attention.

It is found in children and adults, but the symptoms are more subtle in adults.

In children, ADHD may lead to poor performance in school and also affect relationships. It becomes more prevalent among those who had ADHD as a child.

Some may have diagnosed it in childhood, while in others it was ignored. Many children outgrow ADHD at later stages, but about 60% of the symptoms persist in adulthood.

ADHD affects both men and women. Medications, therapy and counseling are successful in relieving symptoms of ADHD.

2 Symptoms

Symptoms of Adult ADHD are subtle and hence it remains undiagnosed in many adults.

Some of the common signs that indicate ADHD include:

  • Difficulty in getting organized – keeping things organized is hard for adults with ADHD and this may affect their performance at work place.
  • Prone to accidents – adults with this disorder lack attention and so driving is usually careless or reckless. They tend to end up with accidents due to speeding.
  • Trouble in relationships – partners with ADHD have poor listening skills and often forget or ignore commitments. This leads to troubled relationships.
  • Easy distractions – people with this disorder lack attention and hence are easily distracted from the task at hand. They leave work unfinished before moving on with the distractions.
  • Poor listening skills – lack of attention leads to poor listening skills, and hence disappointments and misunderstandings.
  • Restlessness – hyperactivity in adults results in the inability to relax. They often appear as tensed or edgy.
  • Procrastination – people with this disorder often put off starting a task. This is particularly true of tasks that require a lot of attention.
  • Emotional outbursts – they find it difficult to control their emotions and burst out at minor problems. These outbursts may subside as quickly as it started.
  • Lack of prioritization – tasks and responsibilities are not prioritized leading to issues at the workplace or home front.

Many of the above-mentioned symptoms resemble that of other conditions and hence it is important to get it diagnosed by an experienced mental health professional.

Confirmatory diagnosis of ADHD is done only when symptoms are severe and affect more than one phase of life.

In most of the cases, symptoms can be traced back to childhood.

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3 Causes

The actual cause of Adult ADHD is not clear.

A number of genetic, environmental, and developmental factors affect the development of this disorder.

Having a close family relative with this disorder increases the risk of ADHD in adults.

Smoking, drinking, and drug abuse during pregnancy can increase the chance of ADHD in the child.

Exposure to toxins during pregnancy and premature birth are also risk factors for ADHD.

4 Making a Diagnosis

Experienced psychologists, psychiatrists, neurologists and family practitioners diagnose ADHD in adults.

The symptoms of ADHD in adults are subtle and difficult to diagnose. It is important to rule out other conditions that may cause similar symptoms.

Diagnosis is based on responses to questions regarding the symptoms.

The diagnostic criteria for ADHD in adults is explained in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders by American Psychiatric Association.

Adult ADHD is diagnosed if the person has more than six symptoms from this list:

  • Lack of attention leading to careless mistakes
  • Difficulty paying attention to tasks
  • Poor listening skills
  • Inability to follow instructions
  • Difficulty organizing
  • Inability to engage in tasks that require focus
  • Losing items needed for a task
  • Easily distracted
  • Forgetfulness
  • Squirming and fidgeting
  • Restlessness
  • Inability to enjoy leisure activities
  • Talks too much
  • Emotional outbursts
  • Difficulty waiting for their turn
  • Interrupts or talks over others

Most of the patients may have had hyperactivity symptoms in early childhood.

5 Treatment

Psychological therapy like counseling or talk therapy is beneficial in the treatment of childhood or adult ADHD.

Visiting a psychiatrist to discuss or decide on medication options is also helpful in treating the symptoms of this condition.

6 Prevention

Taking good care of health during pregnancy is the best way to prevent ADHD in children and in adults.

Cigarettes, alcohol, and drugs should be avoided during pregnancy.

7 Alternative and Homeopathic Remedies

Stramonium, Cina and Hyoscyamus niger are examples of alternative and homeopathic remedies to control specific symptoms of Adult ADHD.

Special diets that limit allergens help in improving the behavior.

Massage, yoga, meditation, and Tai Chi are also tried as alternate remedies for alleviating symptoms of ADHD.

8 Lifestyle and Coping

Making efficient lifestyle changes helps to reduce carelessness, improve attention span and cope with Adult ADHD.

Making a list of tasks and using sticky pads helps to remind the person or priorities and prevent procrastination.

Using a file organizer in an electronic format aids in being more organized at the workplace.

Having a set routine and taking help from colleagues and family members also goes a long way in leading a peaceful life.

Support groups, coaches, mentors, family members and friends also help in coping with the disorder.

9 Risks and Complications

Adult ADHD is associated with poor performance at work, failed relationships, alcohol or drug abuse, poor health, frequent accidents and financial troubles.

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