When you think of ADHD, you probably think of a childhood disorder. Children with ADHD are hyperactive, impulsive and unable to pay attention. For 60 percent of these children, ADHD will be a life long condition. In the United States, 4 percent, or 8 million, of the adult population has adult ADHD. Unfortunately, most of them have not been diagnosed or treated.
Diagnosing Adult ADHD
Diagnosing adult ADHD can be difficult because most of what we know comes from studying children. Adults have different symptoms than children, which tend to be more subtle. While children tend to be hyperactive, adults feel restless and have difficulty relaxing. Adults may also feel like they are unable to organize or prioritize. You may notice that they act inappropriately in social situations and vocalize rude thoughts that you would normally keep to yourself. One reason that adult ADHD is under diagnosed is because of doctor reluctance. Doctors may be reluctant to diagnose adults with ADHD because the treatment involves amphetamines, a strong drug with potential for abuse. Adults with ADHD are more likely to have problems with substance abuse.
Adult ADHD Symptoms
- Diagnosis as a child
- Inability to deal with stress
- Act impulsively
- Quick temper
- Mood swings
- Always bored
- Can't concentrate
- Relationship difficulties
- Employment difficulties
These and other behaviors may manifest in different levels of intensity and may happen in certain situations or all the time.
ADHD as a Social Problem
Adults with ADHD are more likely to participate in activities that can harm themselves and others. The condition can hold them back from succeeding professionally and socially. Adults with ADHD have increased chances of:
- Substance abuse to medications prescribed
- Having a low socioeconomic rank
- Smoking cigarettes
- Driving recklessly, speeding, or having a suspended license
- Marital problems; multiple marriages, separations and divorces
The same medications that work for children appear to work for adults as well. However, most ADHD drugs are stimulants which have a large potential for abuse.
Treatment Beyond Medication
Medication allows the patient to focus, but treatment can't stop there. Adults with ADHD should also participate in behavioral therapy to build self esteem and learn new, healthier behaviors. Some of these treatments are:
- Instruction on methods to keep organized at home and work.
- Family education and therapy
- Mentoring to learn relationship and job skills.
- Learning to relax, manage stress and lower anxiety.
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