What is ADHD?
Historically, ADHD, or Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, was thought to be a childhood condition. Because of this, adult ADHD research is still in its early stages. Recently; however, data suggests that ADHD may continue into adulthood. According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, up to 50% of people who had childhood ADHD may still have it. ADHD can be a major problem for adults, since it can make everyday tasks seem very difficult. It can be hard to focus at work, hard to make plans, and cause a variety of other problems.
Symptoms of Adult ADHD
The symptoms found in adults can show up in different ways. Impulsiveness may display itself in the form of getting irritable or getting angry very quickly. Adults with ADHD may also have the ability to "hyper focus" on tasks that interest them, often losing track of time and forgetting other responsibilities. Another symptom of Adult ADHD is eating disorders. Overeating and obesity can result from not planning out healthy meals, or putting off hunger until it is too late. This can mean eating junk food to satisfy hunger, because it is convenient. Below is a list of some common symptoms of ADHD:
- Forgetting something you were recently told
- "Zoning out" during a conversation
- Being late or forgetting to show up for appointments
- Speaking before you think
- Random speech, moving quickly from one topic to the next
- Becoming easily frustrated or bored
- Leaving a mess
- Starting new tasks before you have other ones finished
- Underestimating the time needed to do something
- Always being on the go
- Substance abuse problems
- Taking unnecessary risks
Diagnosing Child and Adult ADHD
There are specific criteria for diagnosing someone with ADHD. This can be seen in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th ed. (DSM-IV). The manual states that you must have 6 symptoms, which must have lasted for at least 6 months, in order to be diagnosed with childhood ADHD. The criteria in the DSM-IV can be applied to adults, but is usually used when diagnosing children. When diagnosing adults, different criteria are often used, depending on who is making the diagnosis.
How do I manage my adult ADHD?
If you are exhibiting the symptoms of ADHD, there is hope! There are several things adults can do to help manage their ADHD. Being educated about the disorder is the first thing you can do to help you cope. Making lists of tasks and using detailed schedules can help you with planning. Eliminating clutter from your home or workplace can help you to stay focused on everyday tasks.
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