Adults With Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
The importance of adult ADHD diagnosis for adult patients cannot be overstated.
The change in diagnosis rules for ADHD from childhood to adulthood means that more adults are being diagnosed with this condition. The DSM-5, released in 2021, added criteria for ADHD specifically designed for adults, expanding the criteria for diagnosing and treating this condition. As a result, adult patients are now seeing a much broader range of symptoms and potential treatment options than they once did. As the focus has shifted to adult ADHD diagnosis and treatment, the expense of such a diagnosis has also increased. This is due to a greater number of professionals who now require training to implement the treatment recommended by the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) and the American Psychological Association (APA).
Adults are beginning to experience increased rates of ADHD prevalence. One reason for this rise in adult ADHD prevalence is the recognition and increase in the severity of adult ADHD. Adult ADHD is comprised of five separate disorders, including Inattention-Tongue, Combined Type, Predominantly Inattentive Hyperactivity Disorder, or Ritalin-Resistant ADHD. The prevalence rates of these specific subtypes of ADHD have been increasing steadily. Of the subtypes, the combined type is the most common.
Adults suffering from ADHD have many challenges. Adults dealing with these condition experience difficulties maintaining employment, managing time, managing their emotions, socializing with co-workers, and often experiencing symptoms of depression, anxiety, or other emotional disturbances. This condition can also significantly impact a patient's ability to maintain or obtain a high level of education. Because adult ADHD is often thought to stem from the inability of the adult to pay attention or to perform tasks accurately, many adults are inappropriately diagnosed with ADHD. ADHD symptoms in adults can be very similar to or much more intense than symptoms one might experience in children.
Adults are not the only ones who suffer from ADHD. Children and adolescents who are diagnosed with ADHD are also commonly referred to as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Unlike adult ADHD, diagnosis of children with ADHD can result in the same stigma as adult ADHD; however, research has indicated that the disorder is far more common in children. Both children and adults display the inattentive type of ADHD; however, their symptoms tend to vary significantly. In addition, it is becoming apparent that both children and adolescents exhibit the hyperactivity type of ADHD, while adults predominantly display the inattentive type of ADHD.
In recent years, the importance of adult ADHD diagnosis has become apparent as more adults are living with ADHD and making frequent use of medical treatment. Research indicates that ADHD negatively impacts nearly one in ten adults, compared to one in five children. While the number of adults with ADHD has been slowly rising, researchers have identified several risk factors that increase the likelihood that adults will develop ADHD. The risk factors include: having a family member with ADHD; having ADHD-related co-occurring disorders; having untreated anxiety or depression; receiving a diagnosis of ADHD during childhood; having an educational level that is below the norm; living in a neighbourhood that is high in crime and being male. It is important to note that women are just as likely to suffer from ADHD as men, but female ADHD is less common.
When an adult ADHD diagnosis is made, there are several different ways to go about treating ADHD. One of the most common medications prescribed for adult ADHD treatment is Strattera, which is given intravenously once a day. Other medications used to treat ADHD in adults include Ritalin and Adderall. Your physician may also prescribe additional medication if the inattention or hyperactivity is not responding adequately to the other ADHD medications. As with any prescription medication, you must be well-informed about the medications and their possible side effects.
As more research is being directed towards investigating the roots of ADHD, the condition is starting to be better understood. One hypothesis suggests that ADHD may be caused by a biochemical imbalance in the brain. Theories suggest that the neurotransmitter serotonin may be overly active in some people, which results in inattention and/or hyperactivity. Another hypothesis is that the reason why white individuals tend to have ADHD is due to genetic factors. Studies have shown that Hispanics and Asians do not have a greater tendency to have ADHD than Caucasians.
There is mounting evidence that genetics may play a role in the development of ADHD. Some of the results from a few years ago were that ADHD was seen to be a genetic disorder, when in fact, the disorder was a product of the environment. A few of the environmental variables that were noted to cause symptoms in some patients were family medical history, lower educational level, living in rural areas or towns, and maternal age at birth. More recent prospective studies are now suggesting that ADHD could be caused by a combination of genes and the environment and that both genes and the environment play important roles in causing the symptoms in adult patients.
The criteria used to make an ADHD diagnosis may vary among different studies. Some studies use the Composite International Diagnostic Criteria (CID), while others use the Ready Baldness questionnaire. Either way, the specific symptoms considered for the diagnosis of ADHD include distractibility, hyperactivity, distractibility, inattentiveness, impulsivity, and distractibility. Also, according to one study, the severity of ADHD symptoms was found to be related to a patient's academic performance and other personality traits. In a few studies, the diagnosis is also made with the use of questionnaires or interviews. Finally, data on the families of patients with ADHD have been analyzed to determine if there is any relation between their symptoms and family members.
Adults with ADHD may display some of the same characteristics as ADHD children. In addition to having the symptoms of ADHD, they may also exhibit the same aggressive and restless tendencies, social withdrawal, insomnia, and attention problems. As in children, adults with adult and may also suffer from substance abuse, depression, and suicidal thoughts and behaviour. However, unlike in children, the diagnosis of adult ADHD has more positive outcomes, including job retention, social development, and increased community participation. However, while adults with ADHD can contribute to the successful management of their respective work organizations and schools, employers and school districts have to be careful not to over-diagnose because of the potential ramifications it could have on their employees, as well as their non-work colleagues.
Adult ADHD diagnosis continues to be a timely, crucial, and necessary step in the treatment of adults with ADHD. It helps them manage their symptoms while strengthening their interpersonal relationships and career choices. As new research emerges regarding the biological basis of adult ADHD, more adults with this condition should be identified and treated accordingly.
If you would like some further guidance and support on managing your ADHD, then you should contact your local experienced ADHD specialist for an online ADHD assessment to improve your understanding of the disorder and to know what treatment method is fit for you or them.