Managing Adult ADHA
By Paul Rothbart
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is most often associated with children. People think of kids who can't sit still and engage in unruly behavior for which they take medication. ADHD can and does affect adults. An estimated 4-5 percent of American adults have ADHD, and few are diagnosed or treated for it. Adults with ADHD had it as a child whether they knew it or not. About 60 percent of kids outgrow it while the rest carry it into adulthood, frequently unknowingly. ADHD is not curable, but a doctor can prescribe a treatment plan to successfully manage it.
Symptoms of Adult ADHD
Adult ADHD symptoms can range from mild to serious and the level of severity can change over time. Common symptoms of Adult ADHD include difficulty:
Focusing and concentrating
Finish assignments on time
These symptoms can cause numerous problems including anxiety and chronic boredom. ADHD sufferers are frequently late and tend to be forgetful. They may have trouble controlling their anger and fall behind in their work. They are often poorly motivated and procrastinate. People with adult ADHD may experience mood swings and low self-esteem that can harm their relationships as well as their professional lives.
If you suspect you have ADHD, seek a psychiatrist with experience diagnosing the disorder. The doctor will ask questions about your medical history and most likely order a physical exam and blood work to rule out medical problems. They will also subject you to psychological testing and ask many questions about your childhood. Adults don't develop ADHD, they have had it for life. The doctor may wish to speak to your parents if possible to identify symptoms that were present during your childhood. They may also want to see report cards and school records for behavioral problems or difficulty with classwork.
Once diagnosed, your doctor will put together a treatment plan for your ADHD. It will likely include some combination of therapy, medication, learning about the disorder, and support from your family. Many doctors prescribe stimulants to their patients with ADHD and about two-thirds find them effective in improving symptoms. Cognitive and behavioral therapy is often very effective at treating ADHD. Stress management, mentoring, and life training also may be used and work well for some patients.
ADHD is not just a childhood affliction. Many children carry it into their adult years and may not even know they have it. If you show symptoms of ADHD, seek a psychiatrist for a diagnosis. It can be cured but it can be managed, giving you a healthy, productive life.
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