Can Adults Get ADHD?

ADHD is usually thought of as a childhood disorder . ADHD affects about 3-5 percent of school children; in a class of 25-30 children, it's probable that one or more children will have ADHD. But what happens when those children grow up? Researchers estimate that 30-70 percent of children with ADHD will continue to show symptoms as adults. And 80 percent of them remain undiagnosed and untreated.

The development of ADHD

ADHD can't develop spontaneously in an adult. Adults with ADHD have a history of the disorder that starts in childhood. However, some people are diagnosed as adults because their symptoms were not recognized when they were younger. ADHD is hard to diagnose in adults because it is often masked by other disorders like anxiety and depression. If it is left untreated, adults with ADHD are more likely to abuse substances, get in car accidents and have marital and professional problems.

Diagnosing an adult with ADHD

To be diagnosed with ADHD, you must show symptoms that developed when you were a child and continue to this day. The doctor making the diagnosis will often talk with your parent, spouse and friends to get a complete picture of your behavior throughout your life. Family history is also important because ADHD can be hereditary. If you have it, it is likely that someone else in your family may have it too. Your doctor should also do physical and psychological examinations. People with ADHD may also have anxiety, learning disabilities or affective disorders. It is important that you see a doctor that is trained to diagnose adult ADHD, because it is different than childhood ADHD. Not all doctors are comfortable making an ADHD diagnosis in an adult.

What an ADHD diagnosis can mean for you

Sometimes people being treated for emotional problems like depression or anxiety will find out they have ADHD. They are depressed about their social and professional failures, which resulted from their untreated ADHD. Parents of children with ADHD sometimes realize that they have the same symptoms as their child, like being restless, impulsive and easily distracted. Being diagnosed with ADHD can be a life changing experience because now that you know why you have the problems you are having, you can take steps to improve your entire life.

Treatment of ADHD in adults

If adults take medication for ADHD, they usually start with amphetamine stimulants. Now that ADHD is more widely recognized in adults, medications are being tested for use in adults and children. Antidepressants are also used, particularly the antidepressants that affect the neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine. Many people have started seeking out natural treatment options for ADHD because of the harsh side affects of prescription meds.

ADHD patients have also found success by taking supplements and changing their diet.

Psychotherapy can be helpful for learning new organizational behaviors and to help you recover from the anger of not being diagnosed. The psychotherapist can help you change your impulsive, risk-taking behavior and teach you to think before acting. Therapy can also improve your self image and sense of accomplishment. Having ADHD has positive characteristics too, like affection, passion and unlimited energy.


Photo Credit: maclauren70

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