Attention-Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder

Attention-Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder is a mouthful to type or say, so for the rest of this section, we will refer to it by its acronym, ADHD. This summary will focus on ADHD in adults (age 18 and over).

Some children with ADHD continue to have it as adults. And many adults who have the disorder don't know it. They may feel that it is impossible to get organized, stick to a job, or remember and keep appointments. Daily tasks such as getting up in the morning, preparing to leave the house for work, arriving at work on time, and being productive on the job can be especially challenging for adults with ADHD.

These adults may have a history of failure at school, problems at work, or difficult or failed relationships. Many have had multiple traffic accidents. Like teens, adults with ADHD may seem restless and may try to do several things at once, most of them unsuccessfully. They also tend to prefer "quick fixes," rather than taking the steps needed to achieve greater rewards.

4.1% of the adult population in the United States are diagnosed with ADHD and of these, 41.3% are classified as “severe.”

What things put a person at higher risk of experiencing ADHD?

ADHD has been found to be more common in the immediate biological family members of persons with ADHD. Considerable evidence indicates strong influences of genetic factors on hyperactivity, impulsivity, and inattention. Family, school, and peer influences can also be crucial in determining the severity of the disorder.

Can ADHD be treated?

Much like children with the disorder, adults with ADHD are treated with medication, psychotherapy, or a combination of treatments. An adult with ADHD should discuss potential medication options with his or her doctor. These and other issues must be taken into account when a medication is prescribed.

A professional counselor or therapist can help an adult with ADHD learn how to organize his or her life with tools such as a large calendar or date book, lists, reminder notes, and by assigning a special place for keys, bills, and paperwork. Large tasks can be broken down into more manageable, smaller steps so that completing each part of the task provides a sense of accomplishment.

Psychotherapy, including cognitive behavioral therapy, also can help change one's poor self-image by examining the experiences that produced it. The therapist encourages the adult with ADHD to adjust to the life changes that come with treatment, such as thinking before acting, or resisting the urge to take unnecessary risks.

How does ADHD progress?

To be diagnosed with the condition, an adult must have ADHD symptoms that began in childhood and continued throughout adulthood. Accordingly, early symptoms of inattention, hyperactivity (as opposed to normal over-activity), and/or impulsivity may have been overlooked.

Do people with ADHD get better?

ADHD is a lifelong disorder but may improve with treatment. Although it may be damaging to mental/social health, it is not fatal nor does it involve gradual or continuing loss of function.

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