ADHD in Adults

Every adult with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) had the disorder as a child. Some adults were diagnosed and know they have ADHA. Others were not diagnosed as children but find out later in life. About 40% of children with ADHA outgrow the disorder before adulthood. Adult ADHD affects men and women equally.

In adults, the main symptoms of ADHD include difficulty paying attention, impulsiveness, and restlessness. The symptoms can range from mild to severe. Other possible signs are an inability to get organized, lack of emotional control, and not being able to listen well. These symptoms can affect an adult’s ability to work productively, make and maintain relationships. Adult ADHD can also be a factor in depression and anxiety.

ADHD must be diagnosed by a physician. Making the diagnosis will likely include:

  1. A physical exam to help rule out other possible causes for the symptoms
  2. Information gathering, including asking questions about current medical issues, personal and family medical history, and the history of symptoms
  3. ADHD rating scales or psychological tests to help collect and evaluate information about the symptoms

Treatments that work well for children with ADHD are also used to treat adults. For most people, treatment is a combination of medicine and talk therapy. According to the Mayo Clinic, adult ADHD symptoms may not be as clear as ADHD symptoms in children. In adults, hyperactivity may decrease, but struggles with impulsiveness, restlessness, and difficulty paying attention may continue.

More on Meds
Finding the best medication often takes trial and error. While many meds work for both children and adults, clonidine, Intuniv (guanfacine), and modafinil are not yet well-researched for adults and not often prescribed. Stimulants are often the first choice. Most physicians start by prescribing a low dose, then increasing it every 7 days until the symptoms are controlled with limited side effects.

Beyond Treatment
Besides treatment, other steps can help adults with ADHD cope. Support groups allow adults to meet other people with ADHD to share experiences, information, and coping strategies. Adults who also share their ADHD challenges with their spouses, close relatives, or friends can better improve their relationships and increase understanding. Adults who tell coworkers, bosses, or people they work with that they have ADHD often find that others are more than willing to make small accommodations to help them succeed.

Two of the many online resources for more information are the Anxiety and Depression Association of America and Help Guide’s ADHD in Adults.