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 ADHD 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 anything you have additional questions about 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.
Non-medication Treatments for ADHD
Medications Used in the Treatment of Attention-Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder
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
* – 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.
Grohol, J. (2017). Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 22, 2017, from https://psychcentral.com/disorders/adhd/