Can Adults Have ADHD?

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder can be diagnosed in adulthood.

Author: Christin Sander, Health Writer

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a well-known childhood developmental condition characterized by impulsive behavior, inattention, and hyperactivity. Approximately 60% of children with ADHD carry the symptoms over into adulthood. Nearly 4% of the US adult population are affected, however very few get diagnosed or treated. Most adults who were not treated for the disorder as children are not aware they have it.

Characteristics of Adult ADHD

Adults with ADHD are often restless and have a tendency to do too many things at once. They tend to be forgetful, struggle with productivity and being on time. For many, long-term goals are difficult to achieve due to the desire for instant gratification. This tendency often leads to impulsive and potentially self-destructive behaviors.

Symptoms of Adult ADHD are often varied and not as pronounced as the symptoms in children, making diagnosis more challenging. ADHD in adults can lead to issues with poor work performance, low self-esteem and difficulty in relationships. There are often overlapping conditions like depression, anxiety, sleep disorders and substance abuse.

Adults who suspect ADHD should consult with a mental health professional to obtain a proper diagnosis. Health professionals use rating scales to determine if a patient meets the criteria.  Adults are only diagnosed with the condition when they have symptoms that began in childhood and carried over. A history of childhood behavior and school experiences are considered, and a series of physical exams and various psychological testing are also performed.

Treatment for ADHD

Adult ADHD is treated with psychotherapy, medication or a combination of treatments. As with the childhood version, stimulant drugs are often prescribed. Psychotherapy is used to develop coping techniques as well as address any other mental health issues accompanying the disorder.

Prescription drugs used to treat ADHD can be complicated with adults, particularly for those taking medications for other conditions like depression and high blood pressure. Stimulant medications interact negatively with MAOI drugs and many medications that affect blood pressure and heart rate.

The side effects of ADHD drugs are potentially severe and even deadly. There is a risk of sudden cardiac death due to increased heart rate. Some drugs have been linked to liver damage, increased psychosis and high blood pressure. Stimulants are also potentially addictive and can lead to abuse.

There are natural remedies that can be used safely without the side effects of stimulant drugs. There are many herbs effective for treating the symptoms of ADHD. Ginko biloba aids brain function and concentration. Ginseng improves memory and has a mild stimulant effect that is non-addictive. Rosemary is energizing and acts as a mental stimulant.  Gotu kola supports a healthy brain and nervous system and helps facilitate concentration, mental clarity and a balanced mood. Valerian root, Skullcap and German chamomile are all great choices for their calming effects and mental balancing qualities.

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