ADHD in adults
Attention deficit hyperkinetic disorder
Attention Deficit Hyperkinetic Disorder – ADHD is a mental disorder that involves a combination of persistent problems such as difficulty paying attention, hyperactivity, and impulsive behavior. ADHD disorder in adults can lead to unstable relationships, low performance at work or school, low self-esteem, and more.
ADHD symptoms begin in early childhood and continue into adulthood. Although most children with ADHD outgrow this problem, about 60% continue to have it as adults. In some cases, ADHD is not recognized or diagnosed until adulthood. ADHD symptoms in adults may not be as clear as in children. In their case, hyperactivity may decrease, but impulsivity, inability to sit still, and difficulty concentrating may still be present.
Symptoms of ADHD in adults
Some people with ADHD have fewer symptoms as they get older. Others continue to have major symptoms that affect their daily functioning. They can range from mild to severe.
Many people with attention deficit hyperkinetic disorder are unaware that they have the disorder – they just know that everyday tasks are difficult to complete. They have difficulty concentrating or prioritizing, fail to meet deadlines, and forget about appointments or other social activities. The inability to control one’s impulses ranges from impatience in a queue or in traffic, to mood swings and tantrums.
Symptoms of ADHD include:
- Chronic boredom,
- Lack of memory,
- Low self-esteem,
- Lack of attention,
- Disorganization and inability to set priorities,
- Low ability to manage time,
- Problems concentrating on a task,
- Inability to multitask.
- Problems in relationships and/or at work,
- Hyperactivity or restlessness,
- Lack of planning,
- Lack of motivation,
- Problems managing anger,
- Low frustration tolerance,
- Frequent mood swings,
- Problems with following through and completing tasks,
- Problems coping with stress.
What is normal and what is ADHD in adults?
Almost everyone has symptoms similar to those with attention deficit hyperkinetic disorder at one time or another. If your problems are recent or have only occurred occasionally in the past, you probably don’t have ADHD. A diagnosis of ADHD in adults is made only when the symptoms are severe enough to cause ongoing problems in many aspects of your life. Diagnosis in adults is not easy. Certain symptoms of ADHD are similar to those caused by other conditions, such as anxiety or mood disorders. And many adults with ADHD have at least one other mental health condition, such as depression or anxiety.
Causes of ADHD in adults
The exact causes of ADHD are not clear, but research is ongoing. Among the factors that may be involved in the development of ADHD in adults are:
- Genetics. ADHD can run in families, and studies show that genes may play a role.
- Environment. Certain environmental factors, such as childhood exposure to lead, may increase the risk.
- Developmental issues. Central nervous system problems at key times in development may also play a role.
Risk factors for ADHD in adults
You are at increased risk of ADHD if:
- You have blood relatives (parents or siblings) with ADHD or another mental disorder.
- As a child you were exposed to environmental toxins such as lead, found mostly in paint and pipes in old buildings.
- You were born prematurely.
How ADHD in adults is diagnosed:
Signs and symptoms of ADHD in adults can be difficult to detect. However, the main symptoms appear early (before the age of 12) and continue into adulthood, creating significant problems.
There is no single test that can confirm the diagnosis. Diagnosis is based on:
- Physical examination, to eliminate other possible causes of symptoms.
- Gathering information, such as questions about other current medical problems, personal and family medical history, and symptom history.
- Psychological or ADHD assessment tests that help gather and evaluate information about symptoms.
Other conditions that resemble ADHD
Some medical conditions or treatments can cause signs and symptoms of ADHD. Among them are:
- Psychiatric disorders, including mood disorders such as depression or anxiety, behavioral disorders, language and learning deficits (such as dyslexia) or other psychiatric conditions
- Medical problems that can affect thinking or behavior, such as a developmental disorder, thyroid disorders, sleep disorders, lead poisoning, brain trauma, or hypoglycemia
- Prohibited substances and drugs
Standard treatments for ADHD include medication, education, and psychological counseling. Most of the time, the most effective is a combination of all of these. A drug treatment can only be prescribed by a doctor, who carefully evaluates your condition and watches over time how you react to each of them.
Drug treatment recommended for adults diagnosed with ADHD:
- Stimulants (for example, methylphenidate), available under a supervised regimen prescribed by a psychiatrist. The ability to concentrate, the energy, the ability to complete tasks increase, the emotional oscillations decrease.
Adverse effects: headache, tachycardia, agitation, restlessness, insomnia
- Non-stimulants – atomoxetine, available in Romania and completely free of charge to adults who suffer from lack of attention, through CASMB compensation.
Increases concentration, mood disorders, organizational capacity and follow-up.
Adverse effects: irritability, insomnia, dry mouth, dizziness, nausea, decreased appetite.
Psychological counseling can help you:
- Improve your time management and organizational skills
- Learn how to reduce your impulsive behavior
- Develop problem-solving skills
- Overcoming past failures at school, work or social life
- Learn ways to improve your relationships with family, colleagues and friends
- Develop strategies to control your temper
The most common types of psychotherapy to treat ADHD are cognitive behavioral therapy and marital and family counseling.
What you can do
Because ADHD is a complex disorder and each person is unique, it is difficult to make general recommendations. We customize for each ADHD adult. But some of these suggestions might help:
- Make a list of tasks to solve every day.
- Breaks these tasks down into small steps that are easier to complete.
- Use sticky notes to remind yourself of different things – put them on the fridge, on the bathroom mirror, in the car, etc.
- Keep a diary or electronic calendar for appointments and deadlines and carry them with you so you can always note down the things you need to remember.
- Patiently create information organization systems and get used to using them consistently.
- Follow a daily routine and always keep your things in the same places.
- Ask for the help of the people close to you.
When to seek a psychiatrist
If any of the symptoms described above disrupt your life on an ongoing basis, it’s a good idea to ask a doctor if you might have ADHD. There are several types of health professionals who can diagnose and oversee treatment. Find one with training and experience in treating adults with ADHD.
How to prepare for your doctor’s appointment
To make diagnosis easier, make a list of the following information:
- The symptoms you have and the problems they create
- Key personal information, such as major stressors or recent life changes
- Any medicines you take, including vitamins, supplements or herbs, and in what doses.
- Caffeine consumption.
- Questions to ask your doctor, including:
– What are the possible causes of my symptoms?
– What kind of tests do I need?
– What treatments are there and what do you recommend?
– What are the alternatives to the approach you suggest?
– I also have other health problems. How do I match the treatments for them?
– Is there a generic alternative for the drugs you prescribe?
– What types of side effects can I expect?
– Can you recommend informative materials or websites from which I could get information?