Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, commonly referred to as ADHD, is often believed to be a disorder diagnosed only in childhood, however that is not the case. ADHD is the second most prevalent psychiatric disorder in adults in the United States and according to the National Comorbidity Survey Replication, only 11% of adults are treated.
Core symptoms of ADHD are defined by the American Psychiatric Association and are outlined in a manual used by healthcare physicians when evaluating a patient for a first-time diagnosis. Each symptom presents differently from patient to patient, especially between genders and age ranges. When diagnosing an adult with ADHD, healthcare physicians often need to also take a deeper dive into a patient’s past and present environmental factors to provide a proper diagnosis.
According to The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fifth edition (DSM-5) a patient can be diagnosed with one of three types of ADHD: ADHD predominantly inattentive, ADHD predominantly hyperactive/impulsive, or ADHD combined.
Patients diagnosed with predominately inattentive ADHD may have trouble with:
· Paying attention to details or making seemingly careless mistakes at work
· Sustaining attention for long tasks, such as compiling data, completing a large piece of writing, or sitting through long meetings.
· Listening closely when spoken to directly.
· Following instructions and finishing duties in the workplace.
· Organizing daily tasks and activities.
· Time management
· Engaging in tasks that require sustained attention.
· Losing things
· Being easily distracted by unrelated thoughts or stimuli.
· Being forgetful in activities of daily life, such as paying bills, keeping appointments, or returning calls.
Patients diagnosed with predominately hyperactive/impulsive ADHD may experience:
· Extreme restlessness, difficulty sitting for extended periods, and/or wearing others out with one’s activity.
· Fidgeting with or tapping hands and feet.
· Squirming in their seat.
· Being unable to engage quietly in leisure activities.
· Talking excessively
· Answering questions before they are asked completely.
· Having difficulty waiting for their turn.
· Interrupting others.
Patients diagnosed with ADHD combined can experience symptoms and difficulty with examples that fall under both the inattentive and hyperactive types.
Symptoms of ADHD present differently in children than in adults due to the environmental demands each stage of life presents but they also present differently among patients in the same age group. While it is not uncommon to have similar behaviors and patterns it is important to remember that ADHD affects each person differently. A person with an ADHD diagnosis may experience certain symptoms whereas another person may not experience the same symptom(s) at all. The severity and level of dysfunction that symptoms can cause also differs significantly between patients.
Diagnosing ADHD in Adults
Diagnosing adult-onset ADHD is more complex than diagnosing ADHD in childhood. Internet screening tools can be an excellent place to start an adult’s ADHD journey, but they are limited and not adequate to diagnose ADHD accurately and clinically.
According to the DSM-5, a person over the age of 17 years old must experience 5 or more of the core ADHD symptoms to be diagnosed with ADHD. Those symptoms alone, however, are not the only element in receiving a diagnosis. A qualified healthcare professional will need to perform a thorough evaluation as symptoms may present as a mood disorder such as depression or anxiety. This requires a deeper dive into a patient’s symptoms and experiences, sometimes as far back as childhood, to uncover any underlying issues that may be present or overlooked.
Understanding the impact symptoms have on one’s ability to function effectively in their daily life and in different areas of their environment (work, home, and in social settings) is a key element in the diagnosing process. ADHD evaluations will often include cognitive and behavioral assessments to aid in this process.
Do you think you have adult ADHD?
If you think you might have undiagnosed ADHD, have symptoms and/or concerns you believe are attributed to ADHD, or were diagnosed with ADHD as a child but are continuing to struggle in adulthood, we highly recommend having an evaluation by a qualified healthcare professional.
If you are ready to get started with an evaluation and treatment for adult ADHD, we’re ready to help you! We have years of experience understanding ADHD and how it presents in men and women, how it can disrupt your life, and what to do to help navigate the world with greater ease and better quality of life. Keep the parts of yourself that make you, you, and trust us to provide customized, compassionate care. Get in touch with Neurokin today to get started!