ADHD stands for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. This is a broad diagnosis that includes problems with attention, with or without hyperactivity. Some studies estimate that as many as 10% of adults have ADHD, and a significant number of them have not been diagnosed or treated. An adult with ADHD could have experienced a lack of performance in college or grad school. They might have also been reckless, leading to legal problems. Adults with ADHD also might have trouble performing, to their maximum potential, in their job or family life. In children, ADHD often gets noticed due to the child’s hyperactivity, like running, jumping, inability to sit down or class disruption. In adults the symptoms can be different, but the diagnosis and treatment can be just as important. Instead of the hyperactivity, adults might experience a restless sensation, talk excessively or interrupt others in conversation.
Adults with ADHD don’t have a total lack of attention. They often can concentrate, almost excessively, on things that interest them. This often leads our adult patients to be experts in certain topics or to be quite creative in certain arenas. In other, less interesting areas of their lives, ADHD patients have trouble with organization, task completion or keeping appointments.
Symptoms of ADHD can take various forms depending on the setting. Adults with ADHD can have trouble relaxing, even on vacation. They can feel “driven”, like they have a motor in their body or constantly feel like they need to be doing something. Even though they might feel driven, adults with ADHD often have trouble completing tasks, especially if the task has complicated steps that must be completed sequentially.
At home, an adult with ADHD could neglect to return phone calls, keep appointments, or pay bills. They also might frequently lose track of things like their car keys, phone or glasses. These symptoms of ADHD can be frustrating to people in their lives, often leading to relationship difficulty. Lack of attention is often misinterpreted as lack of importance or lack of caring.
At work, individuals with ADHD might exhibit poor time management, miss deadlines or forget assignments. Most adults with ADHD will have trouble completing a project, after the most complicated part of the project is completed, or have trouble initiating the complicated part of the project. Difficulties at work can stem from the person’s inability to pay attention to details or sit through a business meeting.
In school, adults with ADHD often have trouble getting organized to study or staying on task once beginning a study session. Class attendance and participation can be daunting, without proper focus. Delaying uninteresting tasks can lead to cramming and poor sleep habits. Careless mistakes often leads to scoring lower on tests and assignments, not reflecting accurately on the amount of subject mastery. This can lead to underperforming in school, which can be detrimental to career goals.
Only a doctor or licensed health care provider can make the official diagnosis of ADHD. To be diagnosed with ADHD, as an adult, one must have 5 or more symptoms of inattention and/or 5 or more symptoms of hyperactivity. These symptoms of inattention or hyperactivity must have been present for at least six months. At least some of the ADHD symptoms must also have been present prior to the age of 12. This can be difficult to remember or quantify, but is an integral part of making an adult ADHD diagnosis. Multiple symptoms of ADHD must also be present in at least two settings. These settings could be related to school, work, home or social arenas.
The last component of the diagnosis is one of the most important. The symptoms of ADHD must interfere with the person’s performance in life via work, academic, home or social difficulties. Many people may have ADHD, but they have navigated the symptoms and thus their lives are not significantly impacted. These adults do not need treatment for ADHD.
Adults, from all walks of life, that have disruptions in their lives due to ADHD can benefit from appropriate treatment. We have seen college students, grad students, young professionals, stay at home moms, small business owners, entrepreneurs and business executives make improvements in their life performance with ADHD treatment.
If you feel that you might have ADHD, start with our short Screening Questionairre and look at the results. Call us today for an evaluation appointment.