Signs Of Add In Adults: Learning To Recognize Adult Add
ADD seems to be a term that people only use with children. However, there are people of all ages that are living with a mental health disorder. While it seems to gain the most amount of attention with school-aged children, it can also cause problems and challenges for adults as well. Learning to recognize the signs of ADHD or ADD in adults can help you identify if its something that you may be struggling with in life.
When you learn how to recognize it in your own life, it can help you take advantage of the treatment options that are available to overcome the struggles you may otherwise face.
Effects Of Adhd On Sexuality
What is attention deficit hyperactivity disorder?
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is a condition that causes a person to have a variety of symptoms which may include impulsive behavior, hyperactivity, and difficulty paying attention.
This disorder can have significant effects on adult life. For example, a person with ADHD may have a poor self-image and difficulty maintaining a stable relationship or job.
You Have An Adhd History
Adult ADHD always begins as childhood ADHD, says Eric Lifshitz, MD, a psychiatrist at Providence Saint Johns Health Center in Santa Monica and in private practice in Beverly Hills. Having a history of problems with concentration, focus, organization, and memory your whole life is the primary criteria in diagnosing ADHD in adults. For adults with ADHD the issues have persisted all their lives. If the problems are a new phenomenon, then its not ADHD, he explains. There are many, many other reasons that adults can develop these issues, including depression and stress. A trained professional can help you find the correct diagnosis to get you the best care.
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Can You Be Diagnosed With Adhd For The First Time As An Adult
Yes, but adults who are diagnosed with A.D.H.D. must have also experienced significant symptoms of the disorder before the age of 12, even if they were not formally diagnosed during childhood, according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or D.S.M.
Theres all kinds of reasons why people can get into adulthood without being diagnosed or detected, Dr. Barkely said.
Girls, for example, are less likely to be diagnosed than boys, which is part of the reason the prevalence of A.D.H.D. among women has typically been underrecognized, he added.
In addition, the D.S.M. criteria for the disorder is subjective, said Dr. Martin Teicher, a psychiatry professor and the editor of the Harvard Medical School guide on adult A.D.H.D. You have to draw some arbitrary distinctions about which behaviors happen often, he added.
Some children who are extremely bright can sneak under the wire without their A.D.H.D. being detected because they are doing well academically, but they will generally have other problems like being very fidgety, Dr. Teicher said.
What Causes Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder In Adults
The causes of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder are unclear, but the condition often runs in families. There appears to be a genetic and neurobiological basis for ADHD. Usually, adults with the predominantly inattentive form of ADHD first developed it during childhood and adolescence. They were likely reprimanded in elementary or middle school, were consistently distracted and turned in incomplete work. However, because children with this form of ADHD usually are not hyperactive, the disorder might have gone unrecognized until they reached adolescence or adulthood. This is especially true for girls and women with inattentive ADHD. Girls may be more quiet and passive than those who do not have the disorder, and therefore they do not stand out in the classroom. At times, adult women can go undiagnosed until one of their children is diagnosed with ADHD. At this point they might recognize similarities in their own behavior patterns and seek professional help.
Researchers are studying environmental trauma and other issues related to pregnancy or early life exposure as other possible factors that may play a role in ADHD.
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Lifestyle Changes And Natural Remedies For Adult Adhd
Environmental factors play a big role in the severity of ADHD symptoms in adults. Adults with ADHD can positively impact their symptoms by modifying lifestyle factors like:
- Sleep: Sleep problems are common among adults with ADHD. Adequate rest 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night has a positive effect on the ADHD brain and functioning, and can help with symptom management.26
- Exercise: Studies show that exercise has a positive impact on ADHD brains and can help with reducing symptoms.2728 Mindfulness and meditation activities can also help with symptom regulation.29
- Diet: Everyone benefits from a healthy diet, and that includes adults with ADHD, many of whom self-report better symptom management by maintaining a balanced diet.
- Supplements: Iron, zinc, and magnesium are often naturally low in people with ADHD. Many ADHD individuals take these as supplements, though research on the benefits are inconclusive.30 Melatonin can also help with sleep difficulties. There are also a wide variety of natural remedies for ADHD that may help to alleviate symptoms.
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
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Symptoms And Diagnosis Of Adhd
If you are concerned about whether a child might have ADHD, the first step is to talk with a healthcare provider to find out if the symptoms fit the diagnosis. The diagnosis can be made by a mental health professional, like a psychologist or psychiatrist, or by a primary care provider, like a pediatrician.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that healthcare providers ask parents, teachers, and other adults who care for the child about the childs behavior in different settings, like at home, school, or with peers. Read more about the recommendations.
The healthcare provider should also determine whether the child has another condition that can either explain the symptoms better, or that occurs at the same time as ADHD. Read more about other concerns and conditions.
Why Family Health History is Important if Your Child has Attention and Learning Problems
When To See A Doctor
If you suspect you or a loved one may be suffering from ADHD, there are treatments such as medication, counseling, and addressing any issues with other mental health disorders that can accompany ADHD. Patients with ADHD have been known to experience coexisting conditions such as depression, anxiety, learning, and behavior disorders. Diagnosis of ADHD is based on symptoms present in childhood, the number of symptoms and their direct relation to each other, and how the symptoms affect your daily activities. Talk to your doctor about possible symptoms, major life changes or events, any form of medications, and alternative treatments.
With the proper treatment and support, it is possible to function successfully with symptoms of adult ADHD. Feelings of anxiety, lack of focus or hyper focus, restlessness, and forgetfulness can disrupt your daily life and lead to problems with personal and professional relationships. If you or someone you know is suffering with any of these symptoms, seek professional advice and begin to enjoy life today.
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Adhd Symptoms In Girls And Women
Although researchers believe almost as many girls as boys have ADHD, girls are less likely to be diagnosed and are often diagnosed five years later than boys. On average, boys are diagnosed at age 7, girls at age 12.¹
Boys/men are identified earlier often due to behavioral issues associated with the externalizing traits of ADHD such as hyperactivity, impulsivity, aggression, clowning around for attention or oppositionality, Saline explains. At the same time, boys with inattentive ADHD can be overlooked or misdiagnosed, because this is expected in girls, but not in boys.
While boys with ADHD are more likely to externalize their symptoms, girls are more likely to internalize theirs. Girls are more likely to be inattentive and less likely to be severely hyperactive-impulsive than boys. While boys with ADHD typically cant sit still, girls tend to behave in a more daydreamy, distracted way.
Girls and women have a higher proclivity for internal traits of ADHD, such as forgetfulness, difficulty listening, misreading social cues, and problems with verbal expression and verbal control, Saline adds. This is especially hard for girls because they relate primarily through verbal connections.
Aattention Deficit Disorder Symptoms In Adults: Boredom
Adults with ADD crave stimulation. They seek out tasks that sustain their attention. The brains executive functions perform better when interest is piqued, as they are focused on a task that sustains their attention and fuels their motivation. When they already have difficulty concentration, it is harder to focus on activities that are mundane. The connection between ADD and boredom is thought to be low activity in the prefrontal cortex of the brain, which controls stimulation and anxiety.
Signs of boredom are:
- Excessive eatingPeople with ADD may eat out of boredom when they are not hungry
- Impulsive behaviorEngaging in reckless activities that provoke anxiety
- Delaying SleepThose with ADD procrastinate going to bed until they are exhausted to avoid the time it takes to fall asleep
- Neglecting ResponsibilitiesNecessary responsibilities like paying bills or chores are often ignored because they do not sustain attention
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How Adhd Differs In Women Vs Men
Girls and women tend to show more inattentive symptoms than hyperactivity/impulsivity. They are also more likely to present with internalizing symptoms than externalizing. Because these symptoms are less disruptive and don’t fit the ADHD stereotype, ADHD is often missed in girls.
Girls are often able to develop coping strategies that mask their ADHD symptoms, particularly when they are younger. When they do show noticeable symptoms, they are are often diagnosed with other conditions, such as anxiety or depression , instead of being accurately diagnosed with ADHD.
Studies have shown teachers are less likely to refer girls for ADHD assessment, which can lead to delayed diagnosis and treatment. When assessed, girls and women tend to meet fewer of the diagnostic criteria outlined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders for ADHD, as these criteria were developed based on predominantly male samples.
These delays in diagnosis and treatment often hinder basic skills that are acquired in elementary school and can lead to impairments in academics and in psychosocial functioning in girls and women.
ADHD symptoms in girls and women tend to:
What Are The Symptoms Of Adhd
Although it’s possible for children or adults who dont have ADHD to experience some of the symptoms, the symptoms in people with ADHD are chronic, and extreme enough to significantly interfere with their functioning across at least two settings, such as at home, school, or work.
When symptoms appear, it is important to get a diagnosis from a qualified mental health professional to rule out other physical or psychological problems. Please note, that general practitioners are usually not schooled enough in the nuances of ADHD to make a definitive diagnosis but should be able to refer you to someone who is.
ADHD manifests as a group of symptoms outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition . The symptoms are categorized in the DSM-5 into three groupsinattention, impulsivity, and hyperactivity. Symptoms may include the following:
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How Do You Know For Sure If You Have It And What Does Treatment Look Like
A.D.H.D. has a spectrum of severity levels and symptoms can become more pronounced in different environments.
If you believe that you have adult A.D.H.D., you might consider using a screening tool. It isnt meant to provide a diagnosis, however it can help you recognize the signs and symptoms of adult A.D.H.D.
Afterward, it is essential to get a comprehensive evaluation from a clinician specializing in A.D.H.D. This will help determine whether you have the disorder and a second one. As many as 50 percent of adults with A.D.H.D., for example, have an anxiety disorder.
If there is more than one issue going on, it may be difficult to tease out what is causing what, Dr. Zylowska said. It is important to take a developmental history and create a timeline of when A.D.H.D. behaviors started.
The disorder tends to run in families, meaning that if one of your parents had A.D.H.D., there is a much higher likelihood that you might have it too. One small study, for example, found that among parents of 79 children with A.D.H.D., 41 percent of mothers and 51 percent of fathers had the disorder. Typically, A.D.H.D. is treated with stimulant medications like Adderall, however there are also non-stimulant medications like Strattera. People with A.D.H.D. also use therapy, coaching, mindfulness-based training, nutritional interventions and exercise to manage their symptoms.
Adult Adhd Impact On Criminality And Safety
Research has linked ADHD in adults to criminality, rule-breaking, and other legal and safety issues including greater risk of getting into car accidents compared to the general population.9 One study found that individuals who present ADHD symptoms in childhood are more likely to engage in criminal activities as young adults than are non-ADHD individuals.10 Another recent systematic review estimates that 26% of prison inmates have adult ADHD.11
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Common Symptoms Of Add In Adults
1. We are easily distracted and have difficulty paying attention. We have a tendency to tune out or drift away. For example, we might say:
It is a struggle for me to stay focused or centered. When I least expect it, my brain changes channels, and I respond to the beat of another drum.
Although I can hyperfocus a times, I am more often distracted, and have difficulty staying on target.
At times I feel scattered and confused, like iron shavings attracted by competing magnetic fields.
I set out to clean the kitchen, and often find myself reading a cookbook and deciding to try a new recipe. I eventually finish the kitchen, but it takes me a while.
2. We are impulsive, and we make hasty decisions without considering the consequences. For example, we might say:
I make plans without consulting my family, and then wonder why they don’t share my enthusiasm. I jump to conclusions before analyzing all the facts. This creates problems in my personal and business life. I make decisions, commitments, purchases, even major life changes without adequately considering the consequences. I buy things I don’t need, and then wonder where all my money went. The worst part is having to justify my actions.
3. We are restless, often hyperactive, and full of nervous energy. For example, we might say:
4. We have a strong sense of underachievement and always feel that we fail to live up to our potential. For example, we might say:
5. We have difficulty in relationships. For example, we might say:
Where Can I Turn If I Feel Alone In My Diagnosis Of Adhd
Adults with ADHD may gain social support and better coping skills by talking with family, friends, and colleagues about their diagnosis. If the people in your life are aware of your diagnosis, they will better understand your behavior. Psychotherapy for families and couples can help relationship problems and teach everyone involved about ADHD. There are also support groups for adults with ADHD.
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Symptoms Of Hyperactivity And Impulsivity
These are some of the symptoms of hyperactivity and impulsivity that people with ADHD may display:
- Pacing or moving around, rather than remaining seated
- Feeling restless and unable to sit still
- Seeming like theyre always on the go or wearing others out with their activity
- Having difficulty sitting through work and other activities
- Talking excessively
- Blurting out responses before a question has been completed
- Intruding in others conversations
Self Assessment Tools For Adult Adhd
The World Health Organization created the Adult Self-Report Scale Screener that anyone can take online as a self-reported, preliminary survey.4 The ASRS is not an official diagnosis but you may bring your results to your doctor or therapist if you want to start the process for further evaluation.
If you suspect you might have adult ADHD, here are a few questions Schneider suggests asking yourself:
If you or someone you know has several of these symptoms, it is important to consult a mental health clinician or your physician in order to receive a proper referral for testing.
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