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Adult Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder

May 10th 2010

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD is considered a children’s condition. In recent years, there has been more and more evidence of the condition remaining into adulthood. Many adults with this condition are unaware they have it. The condition in adults has not been recognized or taken as seriously as it should, and they are not getting the treatment they need. Their doctors diagnose them as suffering from depression or anxiety.

Researchers consider that about 2 out of 3 children with ADHD will continue to suffer from it throughout their lives. The ADHD condition manifests itself differently in adults than it does in children. ADHD does not have a single symptom, but is a spectrum, or range of symptoms. The impulsivity and hyperactivity are the most noticeable aspects of ADHD in children. In adults the inattentiveness is more noticeable while the impulsivity and hyperactivity of the child are reduced in many cases. This can partly be due to the child’s hyper-silliness disappearing with maturity as the adult learns coping mechanisms during later adolescences and young adulthood.

In the child the hyperactivity is more predominant so the term ADHD is used more and the ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) is incorporated into the ADHD term as the “Predominantly Inattentive Type”. The adult being less hyperactive is given the acronym AADD (Adult Attention Deficit Disorder).

Diagnosing adult ADHD in a person who was not diagnosed as a child can be very difficult. One of the DSM IV (Diagnostic Manual) criteria defining ADHD states that the person must have shown symptoms of the condition before the age of seven years. Many children are not diagnosed at this age, as their behaviour is regarded as somewhat excessive, but still normal behaviour as in, ‘Boys are lively,’ or ‘their character.’ In the beginning years of adulthood, starting life in a new post-school environment, there is more pressure to adjust, that there might have been during the school years, thus forcing psychological adjustments in the new environment.

When the patient visits his or her doctor, the doctor sees the patient in an environment where the symptoms are not apparent. They might only be noticed in the everyday home or normal work environments. The doctor treats the peripheral symptoms, such as mood swings and ignores the core condition. As the treatment for the secondary symptoms frequently appear to suppress the ADHD symptoms, the core condition remains untreated.

As the knowledge of adult ADHD becomes more widespread, people in the attention deficit person’s circle of friends and colleagues recognise the symptoms. Since he or she was not diagnosed at an early age, before the age of 7, which is a defining criteria, the physician cannot diagnose them as ADHD.A typical catch-22 situation.

There is hope for those trapped in this situation. Medication should be a last resort. medication does not cure, but merely suppresses the symptoms, and have to be taken daily as long as the AADD condition remains. The body is a finely tuned organism and certain medications are like killing a mosquito with a shotgun. There are too many coincidences of horrendous crimes, like the Columbine massacre, where ADHD medication has been in the picture.

The first action to take if one suspects one has adult AADD is to have a medical check-up to ascertain if there is a real physiological cause.

ADD coaching, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy or Neuro Linguistic Programming can be an alternative for some to learn to cope.The important step is to accept oneself for who one is. With a careful assessment of personal strengths and weaknesses it is possible to adjust to living with ADHD and benefit from this condition.

Trying to be like the rest of society is not necessary. Most people in society are not like everyone else. We are all individuals and there are many lifestyles. Readjusting to a lifestyle and environment where the adult ADHD is not a handicap can lead to a better life.

Some highly creative people have had symptoms of adult ADHD.Albert Einstein, Winston Churchill, and Isaac Newton, artists  like Pablo Picasso, then there are Richard Branson and Robin Williams with ADHD. If there is an ADHD gene, then it must be a “genius gene” and not a disorder.

Adult Attention Deficit is a strange way of labelling a personality. After all those same “attention deficit” individuals are able to be hyper-focussed when they really get into something. That is why so many of them are successful.

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