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Understanding ADD/ADHD

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Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, also known as ADHD, is a condition that can cause disruption in work, school and home life. Formerly classified as two different disorders, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder and attention deficit disorder, ADHD is now one disorder with two types: inattentive type and hyperactive-impulsive type.1

Before, researchers classified ADHD as a mental disorder mainly found in children, it is now medically understood that ADHD is also an adult disorder. Symptoms of ADHD often begin in childhood or adolescence, but there is no reason to believe that anyone who suffers from it will outgrow the symptoms of this disorder with time. If you are diagnosed with the disorder, the correct treatment will allow you to balance your condition within the limits of proper behavior and still manage to lead a fully functional life.

Adults who suffer from ADHD and do not receive treatment will have many adverse symptoms, so it is important that you do not wait to address the issue. Social, familial, and professional relationships are bound to suffer if you let yourself be dominated by ADHD tendencies. Learning more about the disorder will help you to see if you have the symptoms that qualify for diagnosis, and what to do if you would like to surpass the mental limits of ADHD.

Inattention/Attention Deficit Symptoms

People who struggle with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder may experience six or more of the following symptoms:

  • Forgetfulness about daily activities and tasks
  • Difficulty organizing tasks
  • Easily distracted by outside stimuli
  • Reluctance to work on tasks that require sustained effort
  • Failure to pay close attention to details
  • Inattentive listening skills, difficulty paying attention to conversations
  • Difficulty sustaining attention in tasks
  • Often loses items
  • Difficulty following directions

Hyperactivity and Impulsivity Symptoms

Hyperactivity is not always fully apparent in ADHD, but it is a symptom that affects many adults. There are three types of ADHD in adults:

  • Predominately inattentive presentation
  • Predominantly hyperactive/impulsive presentation
  • Combined presentation (a combination of inattentive and hyperactive types)

ADHD graphicPredominantly hyperactive/impulsive presentation type includes all of the six or more inattention features along with six or more of the following hyperactivity or impulsivity symptoms:

  • Interrupts conversations or activities frequently
  • Talks excessively
  • Completes sentences or blurts out answers out of turn
  • Inability to sit still or stay in one place
  • Constant restlessness
  • Often leaves seat or required location out of turn
  • Inability to sit still, may tap hands or feet
  • Inability to engage in leisure activities
  • Has difficulty waiting in lines, or waiting for work associates to complete tasks
  • The symptoms of these behaviors often cause adults to miss important details or complete work tasks effectively. Adults can also suffer because you are not really able to control impulsive tendencies like talking too much, fidgeting, or not being able to stay still.

Adults with predominantly inattentive presentation ADHD may be viewed as “daydreamers” with wandering thoughts. Sometimes, this type of ADHD gets missed, or gets mislabeled as “laziness” or “fatigue,” when it is actually a type of ADHD.

Treating ADHD

Young ADHD patient with counselorA mental health care professional, such as a primary care provider, psychiatrist, or psychologist can help you ascertain whether you qualify for the diagnosis of ADHD. Some experts recommend that before diagnosing ADHD, a doctor or health care professional gather input from people who are involved in your life, like your family members or coworkers. If you are comfortable including them in your quest for better mental health, then their input might be valuable in determining the real severity and sort of your symptoms.

Doctors will not diagnose you with ADHD based off of their own understanding or opinion, but off of the professionally recognized American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (Fifth Edition). This ensures that diagnosis is standard all throughout the country, and you should not get a drastically different opinion based solely on which doctor you see.2

Every individual is unique. It is important to discuss all of your symptoms honestly with your healthcare provider. Be aware that attention problems may also be the result of trauma, substance use, mania, anxiety or other learning disorders. In some cases, physical illnesses like thyroid disease may cause these symptoms. Substance use disorder and abuse of stimulant drugs in particular can cause ADHD symptoms. No matter what the cause, inpatient treatment is a very effective way to uncover and understand all symptoms so that you can live a life with less distraction.

1Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders.” American Psychiatric Association. 2013. DSM-5. Washington, D.C.  Accessed 2 July 2017.

2ADHD Symptoms and Diagnosis.” Center for Disease Control and Prevention. 5 Feb 2016. Retrieved 2 July 2017.