A Revealing Look at Adult ADHD

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About eight to nine million adults are suffering from a type of ADHD right now.It’s a condition that is almost exclusively associated with children, and that makes it one of the most unrecognized conditions in adults. You might recall this elusive condition from when your kids were young, being called into their classroom because they couldn’t sit still, or wouldn’t focus on the teacher, and would never pay attention in class. It wouldn’t be long before a doctor would diagnose your child with ADHD: attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder. And according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the prevalence of ADHD in children has increased dramatically over the past few years. The data from the U.S. Children National Health Interview Survey in 2011 found that more than five million children had been diagnosed with ADHD.

But what about adults?

That survey doesn’t even record or ask about the number of adults with ADHD because it’s rarely diagnosed in adulthood. That doesn’t mean you can’t develop ADHD when you’re older. In fact, Canadian psychiatrist Dr. Tim Bilkey says it’s one of the most unrecognized conditions in adults because doctors don’t even think that adults might be suffering from this condition their whole lives without ever being diagnosed. According to the Attention Deficit Disorder Association, about eight to nine million adults are suffering from a type of ADHD right now.

If you have experienced these symptoms for at least six months, then you want to get checked:

• Unable to pay attention to certain tasks for an extended period of time

• Impaired impulse control

• Hyperactivity, including consistent restlessness

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Because doctors are so used to seeing this disorder in children, they might be hesitant to consider you as a candidate for ADHD. But the myth that ADHD is just a childhood ailment is false, say the National Resource Center on ADHD. If you’ve been diagnosed as a child, you might not outgrow the condition as an adult, as you previously thought. The condition persists until adulthood, can cause disruptions for you at work, or at home. About 70%–80% of children with diagnosed ADHD will carry the symptoms into adulthood. Scientists are now getting caught up, too—the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, set to come out in May 2013, will mention adult ADHD for the first time.

Stressful life events can also aggravate this condition, just like they exacerbate many other health problems. You don’t have to suffer in silence. Perhaps you’ve always been someone who couldn’t watch TV for hours on end—you always had to get up midway and walk around. Maybe you found sitting in your cubicle too boring and you were constantly asked not to be restless. Or maybe your kids always joke that you let your impulses drive you and that you get easily excited or distraught making small decisions.

Now you can breathe a sigh of relief and know that what you’ve been feeling is real.

Here’s what you need to do next:

• Ask your physician if you’re a candidate for ADHD and rule out other illnesses.

• Find a support group. Your peers will help you learn tools to deal with restlessness, impulse control, and the overall symptoms of ADHD.

• Understand your symptoms and what makes them flare up. Note these trigger points and practice keeping them under control.

• Some patients feel better when they’re on medication, but like the saying goes “the pill does not replace the skill or the will.” You’ll still need to work on yourself, even if you choose to take medication.

Source(s) for Today’s Article:
“ADHD FAQs,” Attention Deficit Disorder Association web site; http://www.add.org/?page=ADHD_faqs#2, last accessed March 20, 2013.
“Myths and misunderstandings,” National Resource Center on ADHD web site; http://www.help4adhd.org/en/about/myths, last accessed March 20, 2013.
“Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention web site, December 12, 2012; http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/adhd.htm, last accessed March 20, 2013.
Teotonio, I., “Could you have adult ADHD?” The Toronto Star February 5, 2013; http://www.thestar.com/life/health_wellness/2013/02/05/could_you_have_adult_adhd.html, last accessed March 20, 2013.