Not Just Your Kid's Problem: Adult ADHD
Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Everyone has heard of it. A few years ago every newspaper and weekly magazine had a feature about the disorder. The disorder was mostly associated with school-aged children because that was the time when most of the symptoms surfaced. Today ADHD is the most common behavior disorder diagnosed in children and teens. ADHD refers to a group of symptoms that begin in early childhood and can continue into adulthood, causing difficulties at home, at school, at work, and within the community if not recognized and treated (1). But what most people never hear was that ADHD also affects adults and if left untreated can have serious effects.
ADHD is a condition that makes it difficult for children and adults to pay attention, control their activity level and limit their behavior in age appropriate ways (2). Inattention is the most common symptom. In addition to having difficulty paying attention, people with this ADHD symptom often are unable to consistently focus, remember, and organize. They may be careless and have a hard time starting and completing tasks that are boring, repetitive, or challenging., impulsiveness and hyperactivity. With impulsivity, people who frequently act before thinking may not make sound judgments or solve problems well. They may also have trouble developing and maintaining personal relationships. An adult may not keep the same job for long or spend money wisely. A hyperactive child may squirm, fidget, and climb or run when it is not appropriate. These children often have difficulty playing with others. They may talk a great deal and not be able to sit still for even a short time. Teenagers and adults who are hyperactive don't usually have the more obvious physical behaviors seen in children. Rather, they often feel restless and fidgety, and are not able to enjoy reading or other quiet activities.
There are a couple of reasons why it is more difficult to diagnose an adult with ADHD than it is to identify a child with the same problem. One of the problems is that there is no real test for ADHD. Instead there are a series of evaluations that must be done that rule out other problems (2). The American Psychiatric Association describes the symptoms and criteria for diagnosing mental disorders in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV). Information used to diagnose the condition includes: an interview with the person, medical history, to include asking about the social, emotional, educational, and behavioral history of the person, physical exam,...