ADHD in Adulthood

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Allan Schwartz, LCSW, Ph.D. was in private practice for more than thirty years. He is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in the states ...Read More

The online issue of the journal named “Pediatrics,” March 4, 2013 reported the findings of a study that followed children with ADHD into adulthood. Many of the findings are very sobering in terms of what we think about this disorder. For one thing only 38% of the children in the study were free of ADHD by the time they were adults. What is even more troubling about the results is the fact that 57% of those children with ADHD had at least one psychiatric disorder as adults. The most common psychiatric disorders were substance abuse, antisocial personality disorder, hypomanic episodes, general anxiety disorder and major depression. In addition, it was found that 2.7% adults who had childhood ADHD were incarcerated at the start of the study. What is sobering about these statistics is that they demonstrate the fact that ADHD is not a myth. It is a very real disorder that, if left untreated during childhood, can have disastrous consequences during adulthood. Clearly, parents need to get help for their children who may have ADHD.

What are the symptoms of ADHD? The following is taken from the National Institute of Mental Help (NIMH). The URL is:


*Inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity are the key behaviors of ADHD. It is normal for all children to be inattentive, hyperactive, or impulsive sometimes, but for children with ADHD, these behaviors are more severe and occur more often. To be diagnosed with the disorder, a child must have symptoms for 6 or more months and to a degree that is greater than other children of the same age.

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A. Children who have symptoms of inattention may:

Be easily distracted, miss details, forget things, and frequently switch from one activity to another

Have difficulty focusing on one thing

Become bored with a task after only a few minutes, unless they are doing something enjoyable

Have difficulty focusing attention on organizing and completing a task or learning something new

Have trouble completing or turning in homework assignments, often losing things (e.g., pencils, toys, assignments) needed to complete tasks or activities

Not seem to listen when spoken to

Daydream, become easily confused, and move slowly

Have difficulty processing information as quickly and accurately as others

Struggle to follow instructions.

B. Children who have symptoms of hyperactivity may:

Fidget and squirm in their seats

Talk nonstop

Dash around, touching or playing with anything and everything in sight

Have trouble sitting still during dinner, school, and story time

Be constantly in motion

Have difficulty doing quiet tasks or activities.

Children who have symptoms of impulsivity may:

Be very impatient

Blurt out inappropriate comments, show their emotions without restraint, and act without regard for consequences

Have difficulty waiting for things they want or waiting their turns in games

Often interrupt conversations or others’ activities.
* (Taken from NIMH)

Adult ADHD is one of those disorders that people can learn to control. For example, if one of the symptoms is forgetting important dates, such as anniversaries and birthdays, the solution is to program either the computer, or cell phone to send reminders.

Some of the treatment options for childhood and adult ADHD are:

1. Stimulant medications. Some of these do carry the danger of being abused.

2.. More important than medication there is the use of ADHD coaching in which patients are taught coping behaviors that help them learn to fulfill responsibilities at home and at work. For example,
Making a daily list of important tasks and appointments both at home and at work.

3. ADHD is often accompanied by depression, irritability and quickness to anger. Plenty of exercise, especially aerobic types, are essential in helping relieve tension, depression and irritability. In fact, it has been found that daily exercise can reduce many ADHD symptoms.

4. Meditation with or without Yoga are important in helping reduce stress, not only for people with ADHD, but for everyone.

Whether it’s a child or an adult with ADHD, learning to cope with and reduce symptoms is a family effort.

Diagnosing ADHD is very difficult. It is normal for children to appear hyperactive because they are filled with energy and are easily distracted. Only a clinical psychologist or child psychiatrist can provide an accurate diagnosis for this disorder. Any parent who suspects that their child has ADHD should consult their pediatrician who can go the next step and make a referral to a psychiatrist or psychologist.

What are your experiences with Adult ADHD?

Allan N. Schwartz

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