Adult Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, popularly known as adult ADHD, is a neurobiological disorder that affects adults. At least thirty percent of those who are affected by this disorder had it during their childhood.
There are three general ADHD subtypes. These are Predominantly Inattentive (ADHD-PI), Predominantly Hyperactive (DHD-PH) and Combined type (ADHD-C). In most cases, the hyperactive and impulsive types are manifested less frequently in adults. Symptoms of hyperactivity tend to begin revealing themselves in early childhood and develop with age.
Effects of Untreated Adult ADHD
Early diagnosis is crucial because undetected adult ADHD has far-reaching implications. In most cases, it causes physical and psychological problems. The symptoms that characterize this disease often lead to a variety of health complications such as uncontrollable eating, drug abuse, anxiety and stress. Due to forgetfulness, severe ADHD might lead to legal problems and employment difficulties.
Those who suffer from undiagnosed adult ADHD experience difficulties in managing their finances and careers. They repeatedly feel they are underachieving in their tasks because they fail to observe strict corporate rules. Financial management can also be quite difficult and many may fall into debt due to out of control spending. Relationship problems are also widely experienced because ADHD sufferers find it hard to cope with family members who don’t understand their disease.
The Diagnosis of Adult ADHD
This process requires in-depth reflection to determine whether a patient experienced similar symptoms during his or her childhood. This should be done with an objective mind regardless of whether the condition was previously detected or not. Just as it is the case with other psychological disorders like schizophrenia, adult ADHD cannot be subjected to an objective test. Its diagnosis basically relies on a careful evaluation of symptoms from early adulthood, and validation from reports of family members as well as documentation from schools and doctors.
Adult ADHD diagnosis relies on carrying out screening tests whose purpose is to discount other similar conditions and distinct diagnoses like depression, anxiety and drug dependency. Illnesses such as hyperthyroidism can similarly exhibit symptoms that bear close resemblance to adult ADHD. It is advisable to rule out such conditions as well. The quality of diagnosis can be tainted by the fact that most adults suffering from ADHD are often affected by other illnesses.
Normally, adult ADHD is diagnosed through IQ tests, standard achievement tests and neuropsychological tests. This is often done to rule out other similar conditions, which have ADHD-like symptoms. Mental health experts adhere to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). When diagnosing adult ADHD, attention should be paid to the fact that all individuals normally exhibit ADHD-like characteristics when they are under stress.
Interventions for Adult ADHD
More often than not, adult ADHD treatment starts with the administration of medication to control the symptoms of the illness. Most specialists use Methylphenidate, which is a highly effective stimulant. This drug increases neurotransmission, thus slowing down hyperactivity. Other commonly used drugs include amphetamine, atomoxetine, bupropion and desipramine. These are antidepressants, which are beneficial in lowering the size of the treatment effect. They are mainly meant to control the symptoms of adult ADHD.
However, medication cannot work in isolation during this process. Successful non-stimulant treatments for adult ADHD (which can be used alone or in combination with stimulant treatment) often combine medical, behavioral, cognitive and vocational interventions. Psychological therapy has been proven to be effective as far as non-stimulant treatments are concerned. Normally, psychologists employ stress management and relaxation therapies to calm down patients. While therapy can be helpful on its own, it’s generally far more effective when used together with stimulant medications.
How ADHD Plays Out in Women
Research has shown that men and women affected by this condition exhibit dissimilar tendencies. ADHD in women often brings with it eating disorders, low self-worth and awareness, anxiety and depression. These symptoms may not apply to all the affected women, but two or three may play themselves out in the course of the women’s lives. Women with adult ADHD are also likely to be involved in domestic conflicts and fights.
Mothers suffering from the condition are likely to be overwhelmed all the time due to the restrictive societal expectations placed on them. Traditionally, women are supposed to be the organizers and planners of the household. Those affected by ADHD often find themselves ridiculed because it is quite difficult to effectively manage the household when suffering from this disorder. Such individuals lack a sense of self-regulation and management, which may make them fall prey to drug abuse.
The management of ADHD in women is quite difficult. Generally, they face more challenges in their daily lives than men. Those who are affected should integrate certain practices in their daily lives to enable them cope with all the challenges that come their way. Most importantly, they should seek the support of family and friends by helping them understand the condition. They should avoid unwarranted stress and commitments by letting family members and friends to take over challenging tasks whenever possible. Hiring an organizer or personal coach is advisable.
ADHD in Men
The challenges faced by men with ADHD range from anxiety and chronic boredom to mood swings. Men affected by ADHD are also more likely to be involved in road accidents, have disciplinary and anger issues, and experience drug abuse. They have also been noted to be short tempered and forgetful.
While at school, teachers may find it easier to cope up with students affected by the illness. However, they experience more challenges as they enter their careers because most bosses do not have an understanding of ADHD. Men with adult ADHD often experience problems at their workplaces and are faced with the challenge of completing their tasks on time.
Such problems can be controlled in a supportive work environment. The affected individuals can list their tasks, and make use of reminders and notes. This can be helpful particularly if they are teaming up with colleagues who are less creative or more organized.
Debunking Common Myths and Misconceptions About Adult ADHD
There are a number of myths associated with adult ADHD. It is widely believed that that the condition results from a lack of will to carry out daily activities. In addition, a misconception exists that individuals who are affected only focus on activities that are of interest to them. This is however a false notion, because ADHD is not a willpower problem at all. It’s a chemical problem within the brain’s management system, which requires medication and lifestyle changes to control.
Many people also hold onto the belief that everyone displays ADHD symptoms and that any person with adequate intelligence has the ability to overcome the condition. It should be known that ADHD can affect anyone regardless of his or her mental capability. Although individual ADHD symptoms can be seen in just about everyone from time to time, only chronic impairments should warrant a diagnosis.
There is a misconception that those who have ADHD cannot be affected by other psychiatric problems such as depression and anxiety. This is untrue since those suffering from ADHD have a high probability of suffering from psychiatric conditions and other learning disorders. The belief that those who had ADHD during childhood cannot have it in their adult lives is also unfounded, since adult ADHD mostly results in a failure to recognize and treat childhood impairments.