Understanding ADHD in Adults

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is not just a problem in children. About 8.4% of U.S. children have the current diagnosis of ADHD while 4.4% of U.S. adults have ADHD. A research study also revealed that 60% of children with ADHD demonstrated persistence of symptoms into their mid-20s, and 41 percent had both symptoms and impairment in adulthood. Yet people can be affected by ADHD even if they have never been diagnosed with it as a child.

Some people may only learn that they have ADHD when they get older with more responsibilities. They may run into problems if symptoms outpace the skills to organize, focus, and remain calm when pursuing a career or running a household. These are challenges for everyone, but people with ADHD can feel downright impossible. Other people may realize that they have ADHD only after their children receive the diagnosis and they become educated about the condition.

Signs and Symptoms of Adult ADHD

Adult ADHD signs contribute to interpersonal, social, family, academic, financial and work-related difficulties, which fall into three groups:

  • Inattention or hyper focus - Difficulty regulating attention, easily distracted, overlooking details, repeatedly losing things, disorganization and forgetfulness, and a tendency to become absorbed in a task or ignores others around them.
  • Impulsivity or hyperactivity - Easily bored, agitation, trouble sitting still, talk excessively, interrupting others, rushing through tasks, being socially inappropriate, and acting without thinking.
  • Combined type - both inattention and hyperactive-impulsive behaviors.

Common Comorbidities in ADHD

Comorbidity rates in adults are equal to those in children. ADHD in adults is frequently associated with comorbid psychiatric diseases that complicate its recognition, diagnosis and management, as the robust signs of the co-existing conditions can mask the symptoms of ADHD. In a large family study, it was found that 87% of adults with ADHD had at least 1 comorbid psychiatric disorder, and 56% had at least 2 disorders, including mood and anxiety disorders, impulse control disorders, substance use disorders (SUD), and anti-social personality disorders.

Social Impact of ADHD in Adults

Adults with ADHD often experience social difficulties and interpersonal relationship problems, which causes emotional pain and suffering as the socially inappropriate behaviors as a result of adult ADHD symptoms are often perceived as being rude, self-centered, irresponsible, or other negative personality attributes. These negative labels result in social rejection, which can lower self-esteem throughout the life span or even may "burn out" the relationship or marriage.

With proper assessment, treatment and education, adults with ADHD can learn to interact with others effectively in a way that enhances their social life.

Treating ADHD in Adults

ADHD is inherited genetically, and children whose parents with ADHD face a 30% to 40%5 chance of having the disorder. Proper treatment can help control or reduce many symptoms, often leading to better performance at school or work and improved quality of life.

In-depth assessment, treatment planning, medication management, individual therapy, education and family support are all necessary to help children or adults with ADHD function in new ways and build his or her self-esteem. Adults with ADHD may benefit from treatment strategies similar to those used for children, especially for:

  1. Medication
    Stimulants such as Adderall, Concerta, Focalin, Vyvanse, Quillivant, and Ritalin in long-acting form are often prescribed for symptoms. Strattera and Intuniv are non-stimulants, which are also widely prescribed for treatment of adult ADHD.

  2. Therapy and counseling
    • Behavior therapy or psychotherapy is a form of counseling or treatment to help children or adults with ADHD learn behavior-changing strategies and skills to cope with their symptoms.
    • Family therapy helps parents, spouses, or siblings deal with the stresses of living with the ADHD patients.
    • Parenting skills training helps parents come up with ways to guide their child's behavior.
    • Social skill training is a form of therapy that helps children with ADHD to learn appropriate social behaviors.
    • Life coaching may help adults set goals and stay organized at home and work.
    • Job coaching or mentoring helps adults create better working relationships and improve on-the-job performance.

Sources: www.hk01.com, NGOs including Caritas, Heep Hong Society, Fu Hong Society, The Spastics Association of Hong Kong, Tung Wah Group, and private clinics.

Getting treatment and learning ways to manage ADHD, you can even turn some weaknesses into strengths. Some insurers provide the dedicated network of specialists as additional services provided by other service providers to support you and your family with the optimal treatment and professional counseling service to get through the difficult situations.


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