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Attention Deficit Disorder (ADHD)

Approximately 60 percent of youngsters with ADHD in the US become adults with Attention Deficit / Hyperactive Disorder; that’s approximately 8 million adults (4 percent of adult population).

Lower than twenty percent of adults with ADHD have already been diagnosed or treated, with 1/4 actively seeking help.

Thought to be genetic, ADHD occurs in early brain development. Adults with ADHD may exhibit similar symptoms that they had as children, and even though hyperactivity often lessens by adulthood, inattentiveness and impulsiveness may remain.

Symptoms

ADHD symptoms frequently include difficulty focusing, a lack of organization, and restlessness. Adults with ADHD might have difficulty organizing things, concentrating on details, and remembering instructions. They tend to find it difficult to complete tasks which can adversely affect their relationships at home, school, or professorially.

People who have ADHD may exhibit different symptoms, and they may experience them at different levels of severity, ranging from mild to significant impairment.

ADHD and mental health disorders

Adults with ADHD are likely to have an anxiety disorder, depression, bipolar disorder, or other comorbid psychiatric disorder. (The term comorbid refers to a condition that exists with another.)

About 50 percent of adults with ADHD also suffer from anxiety disorder. Adult ADHD symptoms that coexist with an anxiety disorder or other disorders may significantly impair the ability to function.

Diagnosis

Proper diagnosis relies on a comprehensive clinical evaluation by a health professional, who will take into account personal history, self-reported symptoms, and mental-status testing, as well as early development problems and symptoms of inattention, distractibility, impulsivity, and emotional instability.

Overlapping symptoms of comorbid psychiatric conditions often complicate getting an accurate diagnosis.

A health professional will ask questions like these during a consultation:

  • Do your behaviors and feelings show that you have problems with attention and hyperactivity?
  • Do you have a hard time keeping your temper or staying in a good mood?
  • Do these problems happen to you at work and at home?
  • Do family members and friends see that you have these problems?
  • Have you had these problems since you were a child?
  • Do you have any physical or mental health problems that might affect your behavior?

Treatment

Medication is a cornerstone of treatment for adults with ADHD. Research has shown that stimulants and some nonstimulants can improve the symptoms of ADHD, helping people pay attention, concentrate, and control their impulses.

Most people also benefit from behavioral, psychological, educational, and coaching interventions. A helpful resource for locating support groups or professionals with appropriate expertise is CHADD (Children and Adults with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder).

Anxiety disorders and other comorbid conditions may come about as a result of living with ADHD. Having a comorbid anxiety disorder can make treatment more complicated. A health professional will define the areas of impairment (such as problems relating to attention or impulsivity at work or school, sleeping, or family life) and help select the most favorable treatment option.

In addition to prescribing medication for ADHD, a health professional may recommend (cognitive-behavior therapy) for comorbid anxiety. Some stimulant-drug treatments for ADHD may worsen anxiety symptoms in patients with comorbid anxiety disorders.

A health professional should focus on the disorder associated with the highest degree of impairment. If ADHD is the cause of anxiety, treating the ADHD may reduce the anxiety. If anxiety is independent of ADHD, however, a doctor will determine the proper medication. One health professional may decide to treat the anxiety first; another may treat both conditions simultaneously.


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