About attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (adhd) in adults

What is attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (adhd) in adults?

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is a behavioral condition characterized by distractibility, impulsivity, and/or hyperactivity.

  • Although there is no single cause for ADHD, there are a number of biological and social factors that seem to increase the risk of a person developing the disorder.
  • ADHD affects from 2%-6% of adults, men and women equally.
  • Adults with ADHD may show little to no hyperactivity but for those who do, the hyperactivity, impulsivity, and inattention symptoms are quite similar to those in children and adolescents.
  • There are three kinds of ADHD: predominately inattentive type, predominately hyperactive/impulsive type, and the combined (inattentive, hyperactive/impulsive) type.
  • In assessing a person for ADHD, a health professional will conduct a medical interview and physical examination. Lab tests are performed and patients are screened for ADHD as well as other mental-health symptoms.
  • Psychological treatments for ADHD in adults include education about the illness, participation in an ADHD support group, and skills training on a variety of topics.
  • ADHD in adults are often prescribed a long-acting stimulant medication. They may also benefit from a nonstimulant medication.
  • Home remedies, including dietary restrictions and vitamin supplements for ADHD in adults, have little research on their effectiveness.
  • The prognosis for ADHD individuals tends to be influenced by the person's severity of symptoms, intelligence, whether or not the ADHD sufferer has other mental-health conditions, as well as the person's family issues.

What is attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)?

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, often referred to as ADHD or ADD, is a behavioral disorder that is characterized by symptoms of distractibility, impulsivity, and/or hyperactivity. This condition often has a significantly negative impact on an adult's ability to make and keep relationships and do well at work and/or in the community in general.



What are the symptoms for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (adhd) in adults?

Many adults with ADHD aren't aware they have it — they just know that everyday tasks can be a challenge. Adults with ADHD may find it difficult to focus and prioritize, leading to missed deadlines and forgotten meetings or social plans. The inability to control impulses can range from impatience waiting in line or driving in traffic to Mood swings and outbursts of anger.

Adult ADHD symptoms may include:

  • Impulsiveness
  • Disorganization and problems prioritizing
  • Poor time management skills
  • Problems focusing on a task
  • Trouble multitasking
  • Excessive activity or restlessness
  • Poor planning
  • Low frustration tolerance
  • Frequent mood swings
  • Problems following through and completing tasks
  • Hot temper
  • Trouble coping with stress

What's typical behavior and what's ADHD?

Almost everyone has some symptoms similar to ADHD at some point in their lives. If your Difficulties are recent or occurred only occasionally in the past, you probably don't have ADHD. ADHD is diagnosed only when symptoms are severe enough to cause ongoing problems in more than one area of your life. These persistent and disruptive symptoms can be traced back to early childhood.

Diagnosis of ADHD in adults can be difficult because certain ADHD symptoms are similar to those caused by other conditions, such as Anxiety or mood disorders. And many adults with ADHD also have at least one other mental health condition, such as Depression or anxiety.



What are the causes for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (adhd) in adults?

While the exact cause of ADHD is not clear, research efforts continue. Factors that may be involved in the development of ADHD include:

  • Genetics. ADHD can run in families, and studies indicate that genes may play a role.
  • Environment. Certain environmental factors also may increase risk, such as lead exposure as a child.
  • Problems during development. Problems with the central nervous system at key moments in development may play a role.



What are the treatments for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (adhd) in adults?

Psychological treatments for ADHD in adults include education about the illness, participation in an ADHD support group, and skills training in a variety of issues, like job, organizational, parenting, financial, and time-management skills. Some adults with the disorder may benefit from cognitive behavior therapy, which is a form of psychotherapy that focuses on helping the ADHD sufferer alter negative thinking patterns that may impede their functioning.

Similar to the treatment of ADHD in children, adults often benefit from being prescribed a stimulant medication. Perhaps the oldest prescribed stimulant for the treatment of ADHD is Ritalin. However, given the longer days that teens and adults have compared to young children, stimulants that last much longer are usually prescribed in adults. Examples of such medications include long-acting preparations of methylphenidate, like Daytrana patches, Concerta, Quillivant, and dexmethylphenidate (Focalin-XR), as well as the long-acting amphetamine salt Adderall-XR. Long-acting stimulants also include lisdexamfetamine (Vyvanse). However, adults who have a more variable schedule, as in college students who may take day classes some days and night classes other days, may prefer shorter-acting stimulants like amphetamine salt (Adderall) and dextroamphetamine sulfate (Zenzedi), or methylphenidate preparations, like Focalin and Metadate, so they can vary the time they take the medication without being concerned that they'll have trouble sleeping at night. While modafanil (Provigil) is used to treat sleep attacks (narcolepsy) and is also a stimulant, some studies indicate a potential use in the treatment of ADHD while others do not demonstrate its effectiveness.

Some adults may need to take a nonstimulant medication for treatment of ADHD. For adults whose symptoms early in the morning or late in the evening are an issue, stimulants may not be the optimal medication treatment. For others, side effects like low appetite, insomnia, tremors, squelched exuberance, less frequently tics, and rarely hallucinations may make it unwise for the person to take a stimulant medication. Stimulant treatment of people with ADHD who have no history of drug abuse tends to contribute to a decreased likelihood of developing a substance-abuse problem later on. Those who have a recent history of alcohol or other drug abuse may consider avoiding the small but present addiction potential of stimulants. Long-term effects of addiction to Adderall or other stimulants may be serious, including stroke or heart attack. For individuals who either experience suboptimal effects, side effects, or significant side effects of stimulants, nonstimulant medications like guanfacine (Tenex or Intuniv), clonidine (Catapress or Kapvay), or atomoxetine (Strattera) or treatment with the specialized delivery system of the prescription supplement phosphatidylserine-omega-3 (Vayarin) may be in order.

People who suffer from ADHD are at higher risk for developing mood problems during adulthood. They may therefore benefit from medications that have been found to be helpful for people who have both ADHD and depression or anxiety, like buproprion (Wellbutrin) or venlafaxine (Effexor).



What are the risk factors for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (adhd) in adults?

Risk of ADHD may increase if:

  • You have blood relatives, such as a parent or sibling, with ADHD or another mental health disorder
  • Your mother smoked, drank alcohol or used drugs during pregnancy
  • As a child, you were exposed to environmental toxins — such as lead, found mainly in paint and pipes in older buildings
  • You were born prematurely



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