If you find yourself constantly disorganized, late, forgetful and overwhelmed by daily activities, it is possible you may be suffering from ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). More than 10% of adults or about 16 million Americans have been living with this condition since their childhood and may not even be aware of it. ADHD affects the prefrontal cortex of the brain, where all of our planning and decision-making functions occur. Left untreated, ADHD can hinder everything we do in our daily lives, from school to career to relationships. With Clarity Clinic, you can speak to expert clinicians and receive treatment and ADHD medications in Chicago.
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a genetic, brain-based syndrome characterized by inattentiveness, impulsivity, and hyperactivity that affects individuals’ relationships, academic or professional performance, and can contribute to low self-esteem. The condition typically becomes apparent before the age of 7, but can persist through adulthood. The difference between adult and childhood ADHD lies in developmental and environmental changes. For example, one of the most telling symptoms of hyperactivity in children is the inability to remain seated in a classroom setting; whereas symptoms of hyperactivity in adults are more subtle and may include feelings of internal restlessness, getting bored easily, or fidgeting. If the condition is untreated, it can adversely affect almost every aspect of individuals’ personal and professional lives. However, there is an array of treatment options available for individuals with the condition ranging from individual or group therapy to medication.
The validity of a psychiatric disorder is derived from a pattern of converging evidence, namely clinical correlations, genetics or family history, lab and outcome studies, and patients’ responses to treatment. If ADHD is the same condition in children and adults, one would expect to find observable neuropsychological similarities. While there is evidence that suggests adults with ADHD exhibit the typical signs of inattentiveness, impulsivity, and hyperactivity, diagnosticians have had difficulty creating an operationalized definition of adult ADHD. Furthermore, follow-up studies on children with ADHD maintaining the condition through adulthood have rendered mixed results. As such, the validity of adult ADHD has been challenged by researchers and clinicians alike.
The debatable validity of adult ADHD is rooted in its diagnostic difficulties, and the recent sensationalization of the condition by the press and popular media outlets. Diagnosing ADHD in adults is difficult because the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) is developmentally insensitive. So when clinicians are diagnosing adults with ADHD, they’re forced to consider symptoms like, “often leaves seat in classroom in which remaining seated is expected.” This is problematic because most children mature and outgrow these developmental challenges, and because their environment will inevitably change as they grow older. These difficulties were reverberated by D. Shafer’s observation that diagnosis requires an onset before the age of seven, which forces adults to accurately recall distant events. Also, because the symptomatology of ADHD in adults is similar to other disorders, such manic-depressive illness , individuals may be misdiagnosed the condition.
In recent decades, adult ADHD has been sensationalized by popular media outlets. This has caused numerous individuals to self-diagnose their ADHD. Clinicians are often skeptical of self-diagnoses because troubled individuals are quick to attribute their problems to syndromes or disorders covered by influential media outlets.
Despite its criticisms, adult ADHD is a very real condition that affects approximately 4.4% of American adults . An accurate diagnosis requires the use of developmentally sensitive psychometrics and the comorbidity paradigm . Developmental changes are an irrefutable, and must be factored into diagnoses. This is because people’s symptoms and environments will change during the maturation process. These symptomatological and environmental alterations and their effects must be well documented in order to accurately account for the person’s condition. The changing symptoms often overlap and may appear as different conditions all together. The comorbidity paradigm encourages diagnosticians to asses all disorders without assuming that one accounts for the other. In other words, the comorbidity paradigm treats diagnostic overlap as the rule as opposed to the exception.
The symptoms of ADHD in adults are categorically similar to the symptoms exhibited in children. The primary difference between child and adult ADHD lies in the fact that symptoms lies in the fact that symptoms become less conspicuous as people mature. The particular symptoms and their severity are unique to each individual. However, people with ADHD will likely exhibit all of the major five categorical symptoms to some extent. Symptoms usually worsen when individuals try to balance numerous tasks simultaneously. The five major symptom categories are:
If ADHD is untreated, it can adversely affect almost every aspect of an individual’s professional and personal life. If you’re an adult with undiagnosed ADHD, you’ve likely endured symptoms of the condition for the majority of your later adolescent and adult life. The persistent stress and anxiety attributed with the condition leave people feeling strained. The most commonly affected areas are:
Anything a person does to cope with or mitigate the symptoms of ADHD is considered treatment. Considering that most adults with undiagnosed ADHD have dealt with the symptoms for a number of years, they have been forced to develop tactics in order to cope with their symptoms. As such, there are number of self help techniques that are effective in decreasing the severity of the symptoms of ADHD. The most effective techniques include:
If your symptoms are still getting in the way of your daily life despite your best efforts to manage them on your own, it is time to seek professional assistance. A diagnosis for ADHD can serve as a tremendous relief for a person because it provides reassurance that their condition is not a character flaw or sign of weakness, but in fact a treatable medical condition. Medical assistance typically involves:
1.) Barkley, R.A. (1998) Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder: A handbook for diagnosis and treatment. New York: Guilford Press.
2.) Shaffer, D. (1994). Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in adults. American Journal of Psychiatry, 151, 633-638.
3.) Faraone, Stephen V. “Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder in Adults.” Current Directions in Psychological Science , vol.
9, no. 1, 2000, pp. 33–36. [JSTOR] , doi:10.1111/1467-8721.00055.
4.) “ADHD in Adults.” ADHD/ADD in Adults: Recognizing the Signs and Symptoms of Adult ADHD and What You Can Do
About It , www.helpguide.org/articles/add-adhd/adhd-attention-deficit-disorder-in-adults.htm .
5.) “Treatment for Adult ADHD/ADD: A Guide to Finding Treatments That Work.” /ADD: A Guide to Finding Treatments That Work , www.helpguide.org/articles/add-adhd/treatment-for-adult-adhd-attention-deficit-disorder.htm.
At Clarity Clinic, we have highly trained staff who specialize in diagnosing and treating ADHD. To schedule an appointment, click on one of the specialists below to schedule an initial evaluation to and discuss assessment, diagnosis and treatment options.