By Bob Murray, PhD
October 1, 2004
Adult ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) is in the news and many misguided prescriptions have been written for the disorder. In fact there is very little unbiased information available. We have put together some facts about the illness for those who think they have ADHD or someone they know might have it, and tips for dealing with attention deficit disorders.
Adult ADHD Facts & Symptoms
- ADHD may affect 30% of people who had ADHD in childhood.
- Less than 1/3rd adults diagnosed with ADHD suffer from the disorder because symptoms are often confused with depression, substance abuse and other disorders.
- There are no reliable diagnostic criteria for adult ADHD.
- ADHD does not develop in adulthood. Only those who have had the disorder since early childhood really suffer from ADHD.
- The key criteria of ADHD in adults is "disinhibition"--the inability to stop acting on impulse. Hyperactivity is much less likely to be a symptom of the disorder in adulthood.
- Adults with ADHD tend to forget appointments and are frequently socially inappropriate--making rude or insulting remarks--and are disorganized. They find prioritizing difficult.
- Adults with ADHD find it difficult to form lasting relationships.
- Adults with ADHD have problems with short-term memory.
- Almost all people with ADHD suffer other psychological problems--particularly depression and substance abuse.
- Many physical ailments have similar symptoms to adult ADHD eg hyperthyroidism, petit mal, hearing problems, hepatic disease, head injuries and lead poisoning.
- ADHD is associated with the inability of the brain to produce and manage two neurochemicals--dopamine and noradrenalin. Since stimulants such as Ritalin (like alcohol, and other drugs initially) stimulates the brain to produce these two chemicals they are often used to treat ADHD.
- In adults Ritalin and other pharmacological stimulants can lead to heart problems. New, non-stimulant drugs are becoming available.
- Drugs only mask the symptoms, they don't cure the disorder.
- No "alternative" treatment has been found to effective for adult ADHD.
Adult ADHD Diagnosis
The most widely used diagnostic tool for adult ADHD is the Utah criteria:
- Childhood history consistent with ADHD.
- Adult symptoms:
- Hyperactivity and poor concentration
- Plus two of the following:
- Hot temper
- Inability to complete tasks and disorganization
- Stress intolerance
Read more in Psychiatric Times
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About the Author
Dr Bob Murray is a widely published psychologist and expert on emotional health and optimal relationships. Together with his wife and long-term collaborator Alicia Fortinberry, he is founder of the highly successful Uplift Program, and author of Raising an Optimistic Child (McGraw-Hill, 2006) and Creating Optimism (McGraw-Hill, 2004).
Disclaimer: The diagnosis and treatment of medical or psychiatric disorders requires trained professionals. The information provided in this article is for educational purposes only. It should NOT be used as a substitute for seeking professional help.
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