Updated 9/18. The term ADHD replaced ADD/ADHD several years ago. It was decided that everyone who has it has some form of hyperactivity.
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) affects about 10% of the population.
It is thought of as a childhood condition which will be outgrown, but that is not the case. Adults have ADHD, too; they had it as a child and will have it all their lives.
It may sometimes seem as though someone has outgrown it, but in fact, they have just learned to manage their symptoms better.
Although ADHD is called a “deficit” and a “disorder”, in my opinion (and that of others), neither is true nor accurate.
ADHD is just different.
You can put a negative spin on it, or a positive one. An inability to focus in on one thing can also be thought of as an ability to multi-task.
There are a number of symptoms that characterize ADHD. I have listed some of them below.
Please note that many people may have instances when they exhibit some of these symptoms. A true diagnosis would require:
- you have a number of the symptoms (usually 5-7)
- you have them in different situations
- you have had them over a period of time
For instance, you may have trouble paying attention in a meeting at work. That may be true of many of your fellow co-workers. But if you also have trouble paying attention elsewhere, say when you’re watching TV, talking to a friend, or even during sex (!), then it’s more indicative of ADHD.
- An inability to pay attention to most things for more than a few minutes
- Hyper-focus – an ability to lose one’s self in something, to the exclusion of everything else
- An inability to filter out distracting sounds, smells, or sights
- An inability to sit still for any reasonable length of time (also a restless but deep sleeper)
- Daydreaming more than others
- Poor time management skills – no concept of time or how long things take
- Poor organizational skills
- Messy environment
- Tendency to start multiple projects, but rarely finish them
- Easily overwhelmed
- Highly creative
- Tendency to interrupt people when talking
- Usually very intelligent, but poor grades
- May be a risk taker
- May change jobs (or majors in school) often
- Impulsive – acts without thinking
- Ability to multi-task
- Often a visually oriented learner, a hands on learner, or a combination
It should also be noted that there is often a history of substance abuse (drugs or alcohol), gambling, shopping and other addictions, or eating disorders within the family. Family history of depression and/or anxiety is often present as well.
A diagnosis by a qualified medical professional is required to determine whether or not a person has ADHD. A qualified medical professional would include:
- A psychiatrist, psychologist, or neurologist are the best sources for a diagnosis
- A master level therapist may also do an initial diagnosis
- A psychiatrist, neurologist, or physician are the only ones who can prescribe medication
Treatment and Medication
Treatment of ADHD is often nothing more than prescribing medication; typically a stimulant. These are controlled substances and there are strict rules regarding writing and filling these prescriptions.
Typically a prescribing doctor will start the patient off on a low dose of whichever medication they deem appropriate, and then make adjustments as needed in the coming months.
Many people are afraid of ADHD medications, particularly when it comes to children, thinking that they will turn into “zombies” or have an altered personality. This is not the case at all.
The medication is designed to work on the brain’s function, speeding up the processing rates. It will not alter someone’s personality.
The typical side effects are dry mouth and a loss of appetite, which is temporary.
Sometimes working with a therapist or social worker is suggested, although this is more common for children. The purpose is to help them learn skills to compensate for some of their ADHD symptoms.
A comorbidity is the presence of two or more chronic diseases or conditions in a patient.
Like many other conditions, ADHD comes with comorbidities. These can include depression, anxiety, learning disabilities, bipolar, oppositional defiant disorder, conduct disorder, and others.
This makes it even more vital that your diagnosis is done by the best professional that you can find.
This entire blog is full of great articles about managing different aspects of ADHD. This might be a good place to begin.
You may find as you get older, your ADHD symptoms change. This is more due to the fact that you have learned ways to successfully manage them and not because they have “disappeared”.
And as you go through life, you may also find that some new symptoms will appear. This is especially true for women and life changes that involve their hormones.
An ADD Woman
This blog is written with a slant towards women with ADHD; however, many of the articles are relevant to anyone with ADHD, and some can be useful even if you don’t have ADHD. Articles about time management, organization, and productivity, for instance.
I have been writing this blog since 2007 and have been involved in one way or another in the field of ADHD for over 30 years. I have also trained and worked as an ADD Coach.
If I can be of any assistance, please do not hesitate to reach out.