What is Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)?
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), whose telltale symptoms include impulsiveness, hyperactivity and inattention, has received a lot of notoriety over the past few decades and is among the most well recognized developmental problems in children. For 60% of those afflicted, however, the symptoms and the disease process continues into adulthood. Nearly 8 million people in this country suffer to some degree from the affects of adult ADHD.
Some of the symptoms of adult ADHD include:
- Inability to complete tasks within a given time frame.
- Inability to retain information.
- Inability to follow directions appropriately.
- Inability to concentrate on a given task.
These difficulties may lead to behavioral, emotional, social, vocational and academic problems.
What are the Common Behaviors and Problems of Adult ADHD?
Those suffering from adult ADHD may display any or all of the following character traits to varying degrees:
- Chronic lateness and forgetfulness.
- Low self-esteem.
- Employment problems.
- Difficulty controlling anger.
- Substance abuse or addiction.
- Poor organization skills.
- Low frustration tolerance.
- Chronic boredom.
- Difficulty concentrating when reading.
- Mood swings.
- Relationship problems.
There are no telltale signs for adult ADHD. The severity varies as does the behavior of the individual suffering from the disease. Some patients may be very withdrawn while others are overly social. Some may be able to concentrate on tasks they enjoy while others may not be able to concentrate on any task for an extended period of time. Some may suffer constantly while others may show only sporadic symptoms.
Adults with ADHD tend to have some history of difficulty in school. Many did poorly or were forced to repeat a grade or may have even been forced to drop out. Their employment history also tends to show that ADHD sufferers change jobs frequently and may have poor performance ratings. They generally tend to be less successful socioeconomically and tend to be more frequent users and abusers of substances such as tobacco, alcohol and illegal drugs. They have more marital problems than the general population and have a higher incidence of separation and divorce.
Much of this functional impairment diminishes with remission of the disorder and can be mitigated by appropriate treatment!
How Is Adult ADHD Diagnosed?
While researchers may disagree about age of childhood onset in diagnosing adult ADHD, all agree that ADHD is not an adult-onset disorder and must be verified from childhood. A strong family history of ADHD may also be informative, given the strong genetic component of the disorder.
Treating Adult ADHD
Adult ADHD may be treated with one or more of the following:
- Individual cognitive and behavioral therapy to enhance self-esteem.
- Appropriate Medications.
- Relaxation training and stress management to reduce anxiety and stress.
- Behavioral coaching to teach the person strategies for organizing home and work activities.
- Job coaching or mentoring to support better working relationships and improve on-the-job performance.
- Family education and therapy.
Assessment and a complete and comprehensive customized treatment plan are essential to maintain each patient. Family support and the building of the patient’s self esteem are also crucial factors in successful therapy.
Living with Adult ADHD
Although most people don’t outgrow ADHD, they do learn to adapt. If the difficulties associated with ADHD are managed appropriately throughout their lives, adults with ADHD can learn to develop personal strengths and become productive and successful.