Adults With ADHD
Between 30-70 percent of children with ADHD live with it throughout adulthood. Adults with poor organizational skills, bad time management and lack of sustained attention will more than likely not think they have ADHD. Every day can be a challenge for them, so diagnosis can be a great relief.
ADHD Diagnosis in Adults
Adults suffering from ADHD may not know they have it until a specific event occurs in their life. For the diagnosis to be given to an adult, the individual must have had ongoing symptoms since childhood. These symptoms may include distractibility, impulsivity and restlessness. Other conditions include learning disabilities, anxiety, or affective disorders. Since the diagnosis has to be accurate, it is best undertaken by an expert in adult ADHD. It will include taking a personal history and gathering information from the individual’s close relatives, friends or colleagues. A physical examination and the usual psychological tests are also administered.
Once diagnosed with ADHD, an adult can then start to understand the source of his or her problems, which may help improve self-esteem. The diagnosis can strengthen close relationships by giving others an explanation for unusual behaviors. To address and overcome these issues, the individual may decide to seek psychotherapy or other counseling.
ADHD Treatment in Adults
Medical treatment for adult ADHD can be the same for children, such as stimulant drugs and newer drugs like Strattera (atomoxetine). Other applicable types of drugs for adults with ADHD are antidepressants with or without a stimulant. Antidepressants, which target the brain chemicals dopamine and norepinephrine, are the most effective, including the older Tricyclics. In addition, the newer antidepressant drug Venlafaxine (Effexor) could be helpful. The antidepressant Bupropion (Wellbutrin) has been found effective in trials of adult ADHD, and may also help reduce nicotine cravings.
However, the effects of drugs can be different in adults and children. To avoid adverse effects, multiple medications must not be taken at the same time.
Adults with ADHD can benefit from education and psychotherapy. Learning about the condition can give them a sense of empowerment. With assistance, the patient can devise techniques to counter the effects of the disorder. Maintaining a good organizational system such as keeping well-planned calendars, lists and notes can help the individual feel organized and a sense of achievement. Psychotherapy allows the individual to explore his or her emotions related to ADHD that might have gone unnoticed. This therapy may improve self-awareness and compassion. It can offer support during the changes brought about through medication and behavior, and limit any destructive consequences of ADHD.
Lastly, therapists can assist their patients in realizing the positive effects of high energy levels, spontaneity and enthusiasm that ADHD can bring.