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What Is Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
Many people have heard of ADHD. It may make you think of kids who have trouble paying attention or who are hyperactive or impulsive. Adults can have ADHD, too. About 4% to 5% of U.S. adults have it. But few adults get diagnosed or treated for it.
Who gets adult ADHD? Every adult who has ADHD had it as a child. Some may have been diagnosed and known it. But some may have not been diagnosed when they were young and only find out later in life.
While many kids with ADHD outgrow it, about 60% still have it as adults. Adult ADHD seems to affect men and women equally.
Thereâs no cure for ADHD. If your doctor says you have it, youâll work together to make a treatment plan just for you.
Medications To Treat Adult Adhd
Stimulants. Adults with ADHD are often prescribed stimulant medications. Studies show that about two-thirds of adults with ADHD who take these medications have big improvements in their symptoms.
Examples of stimulant medications include:
But stimulants are not always ideal. Why? They can be:
- Addictive. Stimulants are controlled substances. That means they can be misused. Some adults with ADHD have substance abuse problems or had them in the past.
- Hard to remember to take. Short-acting types of stimulants may wear off quickly. Since people with ADHD can have trouble with forgetfulness, remembering to take them several times a day can be a challenge.
- Hard to time. If people choose to stop taking them in the evening, they can have a hard time focusing to do housework, pay bills, help children with homework, or drive. But if they do take them later in the day, they may be tempted to use alcohol or other things “to relax.”
Nonstimulants. Doctors may also recommend a nonstimulant medication for you to take, either on its own or with a stimulant. They are:
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Add And Adhd Subtypes And Presentations
The subtypes of ADHD introduced in 1994 were:
- Impulsive and hyperactive ADHD: May include difficulty with organization, paying attention, or listening
- Inattentive and distractible ADHD : May include difficulty being still, waiting, or remaining quiet
- Combined ADHD: Includes both impulsive and hyperactive ADHD and inattentive and distractible ADHD, and is the most common type of ADHD.
In 2013, the ADHD “subtypes” were changed to “presentations.” This means that instead of being diagnosed with a specific type of ADHD, people are diagnosed with ADHD and the way in which they have ADHD.
Adhd Symptoms In Adolescents And Adulthood
The manifestation of ADHD differs when the patient is a teen versus when the patient is an adult. Recent discoveries in the symptoms of adult ADHD has led to an increase of adult diagnoses. A general inability to focus is the symptom that is most present in both adolescents and adults, but this is displayed through different behavioral patterns.
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What People Mean By Add
The difference between the terms ADD and ADHD has to do with symptoms. ADHD has three main symptoms:
Most people with ADHD struggle in all three areas. But some mainly have trouble with attention, or focus. Before 1994, they would have been diagnosed with ADD . Today, the formal diagnosis is ADHD, Predominantly Inattentive Type.
There are other terms people use to refer to this type of ADHD. You might hear:
- ADHD without hyperactivity
- Inattentive ADHD
All of these terms mean the same thing ADHD when the main symptom is inattention.
When kids with ADHD mostly struggle with attention, their challenges arent always recognized. They may just come across as shy, daydreamy, or off in their own world. But trouble with focus impacts kids in lots of ways.
They might not follow through on projects or have trouble following directions. Its often hard for them to sift through information and know whats important and what isnt. They may be easily distracted and seem forgetful or careless.
How Is Adult Adhd Diagnosed
Look for a psychiatrist who has experience with diagnosing and treating people with ADHD.
The doctor may:
- Ask you to get a physical exam to make sure there arenât other medical problems causing your symptoms
- Take some blood from you and run tests on it
- Recommend psychological testing
- Ask you questions about your health history
While experts donât agree on an age that you can first diagnose ADHD, they do agree that people donât suddenly develop it as an adult. Thatâs why when a doctor sees you they will ask about your behavior and any symptoms that you may have had as a child. They may also:
- Look at school report cards. Theyâll look for comments about behavior problems, poor focus, lack of effort, or underachievement compared to your potential.
- Talk with your parents to see if you had any symptoms during childhood.
People who have ADHD may have had trouble getting along with others when they were kids or had a hard time in school. Teachers may have had to work with you. For example, maybe you had to sit at the front of the class.
Theyâll also ask if anyone else in your family has ADHD. This can be helpful information because it does seem like ADHD runs in families.
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How Is Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder Inattentive Type In Adults Treated
Although there is no cure for the disorder, it can be successfully treated. There are several different approaches for treating adults, but generally some combination of medication and behavioral therapy yields the best results.
Medications. Prescription drugs that are used to treat ADHD in children usually are effective for most adults with the predominantly inattentive form of ADHD. However, the dosage and frequency of medications may have to be adjusted early during the course of treatment. It is important to match the needs of the person with ADHD with the characteristics of the drug.
The major classes of prescription medications that are prescribed for ADHD are psychostimulants, antidepressants, and nonstimulant drugs. These treatments affect the neurotransmitters that send signals to brain cells.
Coaching is a relatively new approach that has become more popular over the past few years. Coaches help people with ADHD handle the challenges of daily life by providing feedback, recommendations and encouragement, and directing the individual to attend to their own solutions to problems. They also offer practical solutions to address certain issues–such as time management and organization–and help their clients achieve goals.
Signs And Symptoms Of Adhd In Adults
In adults, attention deficit disorder often looks quite different than it does in childrenand its symptoms are unique for each individual. The following categories highlight common symptoms of adult ADHD. Do your best to identify the areas where you experience difficulty. Once you pinpoint your most problematic symptoms, you can start implementing strategies for dealing with them.
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Understanding Adhd In Adults
Life can be a balancing act for any adult, but if you find yourself constantly late, disorganized, forgetful, and overwhelmed by your responsibilities, you may have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder , previously known as ADD. ADHD affects many adults, and its wide variety of frustrating symptoms can hinder everything from your relationships to your career.
While scientists arent sure exactly what causes ADHD, they think its likely caused by a combination of genes, environment, and slight differences in how the brain is hardwired. If you were diagnosed with childhood ADHD or ADD, chances are youve carried at least some of the symptoms into adulthood. But even if you were never diagnosed as a child, that doesnt mean ADHD cant affect you as an adult.
The good news is that no matter how overwhelming it feels, the challenges of attention deficit disorder are beatable. With education, support, and a little creativity, you can learn to manage the symptoms of adult ADHDeven turning some of your weaknesses into strengths. Its never too late to turn the difficulties of adult ADHD around and start succeeding on your own terms.
A Good Starting Point
This screening test is a symptoms checklist for adult ADHD and not a diagnostic test. A full assessment and potential diagnosis of ADHD is not accomplished using an online test or during a quick doctors appointment. A thorough evaluation usually takes more than one visit, and must be done by a professional who is trained in ADHD*. Other conditions can sometimes resemble ADHD, so it is important to work with a professional who is able to rule out these other conditions and make the appropriate diagnosis. Many psychologists, psychiatrists, therapists and some general practice physicians are trained to diagnose adult ADHD.
A thorough assessment requires a complete physical and psychiatric medical history as well as screening to rule out any possible physical disorders. All assessments should include an extensive interview with you and often with your significant other , and the application of various symptom-rating scales. For accuracy, it is common to use more than one scale to confirm results.
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How Is Adult Adhd Treated
Treatment plans can include medicine, therapy, education or learning more about ADHD, and getting family support.
Together these things can help you find new ways to do things that can make day-to-day life easier. That can make you feel better in general and feel better about yourself.
Making sure you get fully checked by a doctor is important. Thatâs because people with ADHD often face other conditions, too. You may also have a learning disability, anxiety or another mood disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, or a dependence on drugs or alcohol. Knowing the whole picture can make sure you get the best plan for you.
Adult Add Is Actually An Outmoded Term But It’s Still Commonly Used Here’s What It Meansand How It Differs From Adult Adhd
Losing focus easily and finding yourself unable to finish tasks such as projects, presentations, or chores are classic signs of Inattentive Adult ADD/ADHD.
Forgetting things, being easily distracted, and feeling restless are all signs of adult ADD, a biological brain disorder that has been reclassified as ADHD. Adult ADHD is increasingly common, affecting 5 percent of adults, according to the Attention Deficit Disorder Association .
So what are the symptoms traditionally tied to adult ADD, and how do they differ from adult ADD? Read on to find out.
Adult ADD is an outdated term used to describe someone whos easily distracted or inattentive but not hyperactive. Sometimes, people use the term ADD to indicate ADHD without hyperactivity, or ADHD, says Dr. Michelle Frank, Clinical Psychologist and Vice President of the ADDA. This terminology, though, used sometimes in casual conversations, is outdated and incorrect.
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Two: Pursue An Adhd Diagnosis
ADHD is not a behavior disorder. It is a developmental impairment of the brains self-management system a neurological condition that impacts executive functions. Finding a medical professional who understands this, and knows how to recognize symptoms in adults, is half the battle.
During an initial consultation, you should expect your doctor to review the ADHD criteria in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-V . Intelligence tests, broad-spectrum scales, computer tests, and even brain scans may follow to ensure an accurate diagnosis. The most vital step is to find a doctor whos qualified to diagnose ADHD.
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Do Symptoms Of Adult Adhd Differ From A Childs Adhd
Adults are less likely to demonstrate hyperactive traits in the same way as children, who, for example, may jump on a desk or climb the walls. Through maturity and years of practice with managing their symptoms, adults are better able to hide their impulsive and hyperactive feelings.
Instead, Frank says, the hyperactivity seems to go underground and present as a feeling of inner restlessness, trouble relaxing or sitting still, and fidgeting.
ADULT ADHD: GENETICS AND GENDER
- ADHD is a highly genetic, brain-based biological syndrome, says Frank. The majority of those who suffer from this condition have close relatives with ADHD. Multiple research studies have shown various alterations in the brain images of ADHD patients. Currently, scientists are trying to discover which two genes cause ADHD.
- While both sexes can have ADHD, women are more prone to the Inattentive type whereas males are more likely to be diagnosed with the Hyperactive/Impulsive classification.
Identifying And Treating The Seven Types Of Add/adhd
ADD, or attention deficit disorder, is the outdated term for ADHD . In 1987, the American Psychological Association discontinued the use of the term ADD and instead replaced it with ADHD. However, in modern times both terms are thrown about and sometimes this can cause major confusion. In a modern context, ADD is used to describe inattentive attention deficit hyperactive disorder, which is a subtype of ADHD.
ADD/ADHD is characterized by hyperactivity and a lack of impulse control and attention. However these symptoms can vary by the individual and not all the symptoms must be present to diagnose ADD/ADHD. In fact, there are several different types of ADD/ADHD and understanding these different types is a crucial aspect in developing an effective treatment plan. But first, lets take a look at the basics of ADD/ADHD.
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Related Conditions In Adults With Adhd
As with ADHD in children and teenagers, ADHD in adults can occur alongside several related problems or conditions.
One of the most common is depression. Other conditions that adults may have alongside ADHD include:
- personality disorders conditions in which an individual differs significantly from the average person in terms of how they think, perceive, feel or relate to others
- bipolar disorder a condition affecting your mood, which can swing from one extreme to another
- obsessive compulsive disorder a condition that causes obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviour
The behavioural problems associated with ADHD can also cause problems such as difficulties with relationships and social interaction.
Page last reviewed: 24 December 2021 Next review due: 24 December 2024
Questions To Ask Your Doctor
If you think you could have ADHD or your doctor has diagnosed you, here are some questions to ask them:
- What could have caused it?
- Should I see a counselor to deal with the effects of ADHD at home and at work?
- What can I expect if I go to a psychologist, psychiatrist, or other professional for treatment of adult ADHD?
- How will I be diagnosed? What else could it be?
- Does ADHD happen with other psychiatric problems?
- Have you treated other adults with ADHD? If not, can you refer me to a specialist?
- Which treatments are best for adults with ADHD?
- How long should my treatments last?
- Will I always have to take medication?
- Do people outgrow ADHD? How will we know if we no longer need ADHD medication?
- Where can I find emotional support for my family and for me?
- Could I have passed this on to my children?
- How often do I need to see a doctor?
- Can I take medication for ADHD if I become pregnant?
- Where can I find out about clinical trials I could participate in?
- I still have symptoms. Is my medication for ADHD not working? Should I try another medication?
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What Is The Difference Between Add And Adhd
With so many children and adults affected by this disorder, there has been a lot of debate and confusion over what to call it. Depending on how old they were when they were diagnosed, what the perspective of their therapist was, or what their own personal view of the disorder is, people who are affected may call the same type of symptoms ADD or ADHD. The terms are used interchangeably, though ADHD is recognized as the current, official term.
Fortunately, we can always look to the official diagnostic standards in the psychology community to really answer the difference of ADD vs ADHD.
The biggest difference between ADD and ADHD is that ADD is obsolete terminology that is no longer used as a formal diagnosis.
You cant have an apples-to-apples comparison of the terms because ADD hasnt been formally defined as a diagnosis since 1987 in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or DSM. Thats the standard manual used by medical and psychology professionals to diagnose any type of mental disorder. The manual is currently in its fifth edition, and is usually called the DSM-5.
ADD used to be a featured diagnosis in the DSM, beginning in 1980 with the release of the DSM-III as Attention-Deficit Disorder, with or without hyperactivity.
In 1987, that was changed to Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder in the DSM-III-R revision.
- ADHD with inattentive presentation ADHD I
- ADHD with hyperactive presentation ADHD II
- ADHD with combined presentation ADHD III