« Goitre ( goiter ) | Main | Graves Disease »

Adult Attention Deficit Disorder

Adult attention deficit disorder (AADD) is the common terminology for the psychiatric condition currently known as attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), also known as attention deficit disorder (ADD), when it occurs in adulthood.

Although most diagnoses of ADHD are made for children, the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) definitions of ADHD do not confine the disorder solely to childhood and in fact many adults are also diagnosed. Although the disorder may not have been diagnosed in an individual during childhood, it is also currently thought that all adults with the disorder had it in childhood. There are three subsets of ADHD in the DSM, and one is a form which does not include hyperactivity.

Because symptoms tend to diminish with age, a lesser number of adults are thought to have AADD than children. Current studies indicate that approximately 30% of children diagnosed retain the condition as adults. However, there have been only a few studies, and results varied widely from as low as 9% to as high as 66%. An ADD/ADHD diagnosis is also dependent upon an impairment of functionality. Thus, an individual (adult or child) meeting ADD/ADHD criteria may change through various combinations of maturity, medication, education, and learned behavior to no longer be so diagnosed.

Scientific research strongly indicates that the neurological condition is hereditary. Some adults may discover they have ADHD only after their children are diagnosed with the disorder. It is unknown how many persons have undiagnosed Adult Attention Deficit Disorder.

In some instances, the understanding of ADD attributes may provide a vital educational and emotional key for an individual, especially an adult who may have lived with undiagnosed symptoms for many years. One Wikipedia writer who found his AADD diagnosis to be something of a revelation stated "I got my diagnosis at age 44 and shortly later read "Driven To Distraction: Recognizing and Coping With Attention Deficit Disorder from Childhood Through Adulthood" by Edward M. Hallowell M.D and John J. Ratey, M.D. "I would compare reading this book at age 44 to having a car and finding the owners manual in the glove box after you turn the first 100,000 miles!!!"

Professionals have noted that adults with ADD/ADHD have often developed coping skills and other forms of adaptive behavior which make symptoms less noticeable to themselves and others. Sometimes also found to be a gift, often accompanied by hyperfocus, the condition is thought to have been a factor for historic figures and persons currently well-known in a wide range of fields. Apparently many of the factors which define the disorder have also been successfully used by individuals to turn a potential problem in their lives into an advantage.

symptoms of adult attention deficit disorder

Adults are more likely than children to realize that they might have ADD/ADHD. Because the very nature of the condition makes a person likely to be poor at self-observation, it is important to seek a professional diagnosis.

Of course, everyone has trouble sitting still sometimes, or managing time, or completing a task. But the behavior of people with ADHD goes beyond occasional fidgeting, disorganization, and procrastination. For them, performing tasks can be so hard that it interferes with their ability to function at work, at home, at school, and socially.

  • In children the disorder is characterized by inattentiveness to external direction, impulsive behavior and restlessness. However, children with the inattentive type are actually often sluggish and hypo-active.
  • In adults the problem is often an inability to structure their lives and plan simple daily tasks. Thus, inattentiveness and restlessness often become secondary problems.

Symptom (or hallmarks) of ADD/ADHD vary widely between individuals, just as no two human brains are exactly alike. They also vary throughout a lifetime as the individual matures, and are affected by life experiences and learned behavior. However, the ADD/ADHD diagnosis is defined by multiple factors, which in total, define the disorder in an individual.

ADD with hyperactivity (ADHD) is characterized by symptoms of inattention, impulsivity and/or hyperactivity which have an onset during childhood, although the condition may have been undiagnosed. Some hyperactivity symptoms are less noticeable in adults. One subset of the current ADHD criteria does not require hyperactivity at all. This was formerly known as simply ADD.

An adult with ADHD (or ADD) has a different complex of symptoms than a child does. Often the most prominent characteristic in ADHD adults is difficulty with executive functioning, which is the brain activity that oversees the ability to monitor one's own behavior, to plan, and to organize. Other symptoms observed in adults include inattention, impulsivity, over-activity, behavioral, learning, and emotional problems.

Hyperactive and impulsive with ADD adults feel restless, are constantly "on the go," and try to do multiple tasks at once. They are often perceived as not thinking before they act or speak.

"In adults, it's a much more elaborate disorder than in children," says Russell Barkley, Ph.D., a psychiatry professor at the Medical University of South Carolina. "It's more than paying attention and controlling impulses. The problem is developing self-regulation." This self-control affects an adult's ability not just to do tasks, but to determine when they need to be done, says Barkley. "You don't expect 4- or 5-year-olds to have a sense of time and organization, but adults need goal-directed behavior--they need help in planning for the future and remembering things that have to get done."

Studies have indicated that adults with ADD are much more likely to have substance abuse problems than adults who do not have ADD. They are also more likely to suffer from depression and anxiety, be fired from jobs, and get divorced than non-ADHD adults.

Posted by Staff at May 19, 2005 6:17 AM

blog comments powered by Disqus

Comments Archive

need anwsers I feel that I have add or adhd who can I sse about that?

Posted by: susie suarez at July 13, 2006 11:04 PM