Adult ADHD: The Facts


 

May is here!

Hopefully, you are having a much better Spring weather.  

If this is your first time stopping by, a big hearty WELCOME.  To my faithful subscribers, you are appreciated! If you ever need to get in touch, please send a message using the Get In Touch tab. I respond to all messages within 24 hours. In continuing with the mental health series,  ADHD is the focus for this month.

 

According to the American Psychiatric Association,Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is one of the most common mental disorders affecting children. ADHD also affects many adults. Symptoms of ADHD include inattention (not being able to keep focus), hyperactivity (excess movement that is not fitting to the setting) and impulsivity (hasty acts that occur in the moment without thought).  It is more common among boys than girls.

STATS
About 4-5% of the population were diagnosed with adult ADHD before the diagnostic criteria changed in 2013 to include adults. That number may be substantially higher now. 60% or more of those who have ADHD symptoms as children or teens continue to have these traits as adults, including those who were never officially diagnosed. Only 10% of adults with ADHD are currently getting treatment. (Russell Barkley, 2010)

Causes of ADHD
Lower activity levels in the Prefrontal Cortex where attention is controlled is believed to cause ADHD. The lower activity levels are caused by:  

  • Genetics  
  • Lack of Dopamine and Norepinephrine 
  • In less than 10% causes may be environmental, due to illness or head injury, including birth. 
  • Fewer than 5% of these are believed to be from use of alcohol, drugs or nicotine during pregnancy. 

ADHD Diagnosis:
Previous DSM- IV guidelines specified that symptoms must be present before the age of 7; in the DSM-V, that has been changed to age 12.  

  • Adults need to exhibit five symptoms from at least one category, primarily hyperactive or primarily inattentive, or symptoms from both for the diagnosis of ADHD Combined Type. 
  • The symptoms must  lead to impairment in at least two areas of life: work, relationships, social, financial, parenting, home, etc.  
  • Adults with ADHD must have symptoms present since childhood unless caused by a head injury or other trauma.
  • The symptoms must occur in two or more settings.
  • Many adults with ADHD were not diagnosed as children, but find they still have problems in adulthood. If the symptoms have been present since childhood, particularly problems in school with academics and/or behavior, is is possibly undiagnosed ADHD.  (DSM-V, 2013)

Symptoms:

  • Many people have characteristics/traits, but do not show problems with executive functions.
  • They may be very active and high energy, but do not interrupt others, losing track of thoughts, forget things, struggle with disorganized, have problems listening, etc. 
  • These people generally do not meet the criteria for ADHD, and should be evaluated for Anxiety, Bi Polar II or Cyclothymia.

Until the next post, Dealing with ADHD At Work,

Best,

Juan