Adult ADHD has received considerable media attention, yet little is known about the prevalence of the disorder. While 3 to 5 percent of children in the U.S. have ADHD, it is difficult to predict how many of these children will still have it as adults. Recent studies estimate that between 30 to 70 percent of children with ADHD will still experience symptoms of the disorder as adults.
Adult ADHD Diagnosis
The symptoms of adult ADHD are the same as those experienced by children with ADHD, but it is usually more difficult to recognize these symptoms in adults.
The three primary characteristics of ADHD are:
In adults with ADHD, these symptoms are usually described as impulsivity, distractibility, and restlessness. In many cases, individuals will have a history of failures in school and work or will experience bouts of anxiety or depression related to ADHD.
To be diagnosed with adult ADHD, the individual must:
- Have symptoms that began in childhood.
- Experience persistent symptoms that create problems in one or more life areas.
- Exhibit current symptoms of the disorder.
Adult ADHD TreatmentsPsychotherapy
Psychotherapy can help the individual learn more about adult ADHD and discover tips and techniques to manage ADHD. Therapists can help clients become more organized through the use of calendars, date books and other organizational tools. Adults with ADHD often feel disordered, so learning time management skills and ways to structure tasks can help individuals feel more accomplished and competent.
Psychotherapy can also help clients overcome low self-esteem, anxiety and depression.Medications
- The medications used to treat adult ADHD are usually similar to those used by children with the disorder. Stimulant medications such as atomoxetine are used to regulate the neurotransmitters, dopamine and norepinephrine.
- Antidepressants such as venlafaxine (which affects norephinephrine) and bupropion (which affects dopamine) are sometimes effective.
Reference: (1996) Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder National Institute of Mental Health