Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
An Overview of ADHD in Adults
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is characterized by symptoms that include the inability to keep one’s attention focused on a task, trouble organizing tasks, avoiding things that take effort, and follow-through. ADHD may also include problems with hyperactivity (fidgeting, excessive talking, restlessness) and impulsivity (difficulty waiting one’s turn or with patience, interrupting others). It is typically treated with stimulant medications, such as Ritalin, and psychotherapy.
Have you ever had trouble concentrating, found it hard to sit still, interrupted others during a conversation, or acted impulsively without thinking things through? Can you recall times when you daydreamed or had difficulty focusing on the task at hand?
Most of us can picture acting this way from time to time. But for some people, these and other exasperating behaviors are uncontrollable, persistently plaguing their day-to-day existence and interfering with their ability to form lasting friendships or succeed in school, at home, and with a career.
Unlike a broken bone or cancer, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD, also sometimes referred to as just plain attention deficit disorder or ADD) does not show physical signs that can be detected by a blood or other lab test*. The typical ADHD symptoms often overlap with those of other physical and psychological disorders.
The causes remain unknown, but ADHD can be diagnosed and effectively treated. Many resources are available to support families in managing ADHD behaviors when they occur.
Attention deficit disorder has been around a lot longer than most people realize. In fact, a condition that appears to be similar to the modern one was described by Hippocrates, who lived from 460 to 370 BC. The name attention deficit disorder was first introduced in 1980 in the third edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. In 1994 the definition was altered to include three groups within ADHD: the predominantly hyperactive-impulsive type; the predominantly inattentive type; and the combined type (in the DSM-5, these are now referred to as “presentations”).
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ADHD usually appears first in childhood, but can also now be diagnosed in adults (as long as some symptoms were present in the individual’s childhood, but simply never diagnosed).
We’ve compiled this library of ADHD resources for you to explore. We encourage you to take your time with these resources, print out things you’d like to read more carefully, and bring any additional questions to your family doctor or a mental health professional.
The good news is that attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is readily treated nowadays with psychiatric medications and psychotherapy. Don’t be put off by the number of things written about ADHD — because it’s a serious mental illness, a lot has been written about it! Read what you need, and leave the rest for another day.
What are the symptoms doctors and therapists use to diagnose ADHD? Are they different for children and teenagers, than for adults?
Problems Related to ADHD
ADHD: What a Difference a Diagnosis Makes
OCD & ADHD: Is There a Connection?
ADHD is readily treatable, although finding the right treatment that works for you can sometimes take time. Specific treatment options covered in this article include:
Non-medication Treatments for ADHD
Medications Used in the Treatment of Attention-Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder
Help and treatment for ADHD is just a click away. But you have to make the choice to do so — nobody can make it for you.
Our Online Support Group
Find a treatment provider now
Recommended Books on ADHD
Have a friend or loved one that you suspect has ADHD? Here are some ways to help someone with ADHD.
8 Ways To Help Someone With ADHD In Crisis
When Your Partner with ADHD Doesn’t Listen
Strategies for Trust and ADHD
While no two people experience ADHD in exactly the same way, it helps to know that you are not alone. These articles help people who are living with ADHD in their lives.
12 Tips for Getting Organized for Adults with ADHD
5 Warning Signs of Tipping Points in an ADHD Life
The Biggest Lesson I’ve Learned in Managing my ADHD
Coping Tips for ADHD
Adults & ADHD: 8 Tips to Make Good Decisions
ADHD in Adults: 5 Tips for Taming Impulsivity
Adults & ADHD: 7 Tips for Finishing What You Start
8 Strategies for Navigating Common Conversation Stumbles in ADHD
9 Ways for Adults with ADHD to Get Motivated
Attention deficit disorder affects different groups of people differently. You can learn more — and read people’s blogs — about how various people with ADHD cope and live with it.
ADHD in Adults & Can Adults Have ADHD?
Famous People with ADHD
More Resources: ADHD on The Mighty
* – Note: Some practitioners claim there are brain scan tests like SPECT that can “diagnose” ADHD; however these tests are experimental and used for research purposes only. No insurance company reimburses for such brain scan tests, and no research has demonstrated they are any more accurate or reliable than traditional diagnostic measures for ADHD.
American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Washington, DC: Author.
Barkley, R.A., Murphy, K.R. & Fischer, M. (2010). ADHD in Adults: What the Science Says. New York: Guilford Press.
Hallowell, E.M. & Ratey, J.J. (2011). Driven to Distraction (Revised): Recognizing and Coping with Attention Deficit Disorder. Anchor Press.
Millichap, J.G. (2011). Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder Handbook: A Physician’s Guide to ADHD (2nd ed.). New York: Springer.
National Institute of Mental Health. (2018). Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Retrieved from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/attention-deficit-hyperactivity-disorder-adhd/index.shtml on February 27, 2018.
Nigg, J.T. (2017). Getting Ahead of ADHD: What Next-Generation Science Says about Treatments That Work—and How You Can Make Them Work for Your Child. New York: Guilford.
Grohol, J. (2018). Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 14, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/disorders/adhd/