ADHD in Adults

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a well-recognized childhood development disorder. It is characterized by inattention, hyperactivity and impulsiveness. These symptoms continue into adulthood for about 60% of children with ADHD. This means about 4% of the US adult population, or 8 million adults have the condition as adults. Few adults are ever identified or treated for adult ADHD. I am one who strongly believes he has ADHD.

In adults there are three different types of ADHD,

  • Combined ADHD – includes all of the symptoms
  • Inattentive ADHD – marked by impaired attention and concentration
  • Hyperactive-Impulsive ADHD – marked by hyperactivity without attentiveness (this I believe most closely describes my condition, although I have some of the other)

ADHD is not an adult-onset disorder. It must be verified from childhood memories or evidence to support the symptoms. School records for example can be most telling. For an old guy like me going back over childhood events and memories confirms that I very likely am ADHD. Growing up in the 1950’s and 1960’s this condition had not been identified and certainly not treated. Let me assure you that it does exist, although sometimes diagnosed incorrectly. It is very real.

Common Behaviors and Problems of Adult ADHD individuals
There are many symptoms and behaviors, but here are some of the most common,

  • Anxiety
  • Low self-esteem
  • Difficulty controlling anger
  • Impulsiveness
  • substance abuse or addiction
  • procrastination
  • low frustration tolerance
  • chronic boredom
  • mood swings
  • depression
  • relationship problems

Any of these can be mild or severe and can vary with the situation or be present all the time. Many adults with ADHD can concentrate if what they are doing interests or excites them. Some adults look for stimulation, but others may avoid it. Adults with ADHD can be withdrawn and antisocial, or they can be overly social and can’t be alone.

When I reviewed my past life history with the doctor to confirm that I had ADHD, these areas were considered and I found they fit me almost to a tee.

School-Related Impairments

  • history of poor educational performance and underachiever
  • had to repeat a grade

Work-Related Impairments

  • no major ones identified in my case

Social-Related Impairments

  • driving violations such as speeding
  • low frustration tolerance – “no patience”

Relationship-Related Impairments

  • more marital problems
  • multiple marriages
  • higher incidence of separation and divorce

Fortunately my mother saved all my old elementary and high school report cards. The consistency of comments is very revealing. “Intelligent, but requires more work”, “underachiever”, “fails to put forth the effort”, “lack of concentration”, or the most prevalent one, “can do much better”. Subjects I liked and found interesting I excelled at were history, geography and english. Math and sciences I found boring and had no concentration to apply to.

There is no doubt in my mind I am an adult living with ADHD. I am in treatment, but more can be done for me and others. To convince a doctor or therapist you need to have the childhood evidence to relate to the adult.

Impulsive behavior and anger are my two demons and I am working hard to drive them out or at the very least to be in total control of them. The people I love and the relationships I cherish deserve my full attention to this effort.

Further Reading:
“Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: ADHD in Audlts”
http://www.webmd.com/add-adhd/guide/adhd-adults

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11 Responses to ADHD in Adults

  1. stamperdad says:

    The key is that symptoms must have appeared in childhood and be consistent, not from time to time. Best indicator if you can’t remember childhood, is report cards especially the comments from teachers and others.

    Thanks for joining in.
    Steve

  2. Wow- I’m sort of surprised at how many of these apply to me. I’ve joked about thinking I might be a little ADD before, but seriously…a lot applies

  3. stamperdad says:

    The most telling symptoms for adult ADHD, at least in my case, are implusiveness and low frustration tolerance. Both of these lead to age-inappropriate behavior and anger. We do stupid things not because we want to, but because of these factors. These are a condition, not a behavior that can be altered completely with counselling. Medication increases focus and enables the suffer to think clearly. ADHD suffers are in almost all cases very intelligent and creative, but social skills are hampered.

    A very complex condition for sure, but very real.
    Thanks to all for contributing to the discussion.
    Steve

  4. The trouble is that most of those symptoms can be part of something else as well. As you said in one of your comments, trying to prove it to your doctor would be the hard part as it’s so tied into personality and mood, which is rather vague when trying to diagnose.
    Do you think there’s one single thing that could stand out in ADHD that is most telling? People suffer worst with diseases that aren’t symptom specific.
    Great writing, as usual.

  5. Dennis Price says:

    I agree. As with other maladies, such as the increasing number of Autistic children, I believe the root problem is in nutrition. I will not elaborate here, but I am going to post something on the subject in the near future. Autoimmune disorders, cancers, endocrine problems, and a host of other disorders have their roots in a poorly functioning immune system. Cells can no longer communicate properly without certain glyco nutrients. These were available in our diet until the 1950s. Since then they have diminished significantly and must be supplemented.

  6. stamperdad says:

    Dennis most of it was just misbehaving. We have to be careful here. ADHD results in behaviors that can’t be changed with simply modification (the paddle) or counselling. Persons or children with the condition can’t help it, they don’t act that way because they want to. It is very unfortunate that more wasn’t known about it years ago. On the other hand a professional and thorough evaluation must be done before final diagnosis.

    Does ADHD exist? You bet it does and you just have to live with a child who has it, or be a person who has it to know that. It is very real and frustrating to live with. The good thing is that it can be treated, but not cured.

    Steve

  7. Dennis Price says:

    In our day it was just diagnosed as misbehaving. I’m sure I have some of the classic symptoms. I received numerous treatments (paddlings with a variety of home made attitude adjustment tools) when I was young. It helped me conquer, at least temporarily, some of my demons. 🙂

  8. stamperdad says:

    Unfortunately years ago ADHD was misdiagnosed frequently. Techniques are much better now. It is a difficult thing for sure.

    I didn’t realize that about Jeff. Thanks for sharing.

    Steve

  9. rosemerry says:

    My stepbrother as a child was misdiagnosed with ADHD. He was Adderol and Thorzien along with three other medications to treat it. He was given this medication twice a day from the age of 8 to 20. He was living with someone else for awhile and taken to a different doctor who diagnosed him with bi-polar disorder taken off the old medication and given new medication for bi-polarism. I believe he is doing better now. I have since lost touch with him after his mom and my dad got divorced and we never particularly got along due in part to his disorders.

    Jeff Corwin of Jeff’s Corwin’s Adventures on Animal Planet is an adult of ADHD.

  10. stamperdad says:

    It is a struggle but worth the effort if you can prove to your doctor it’s real.

    Steve

  11. Mada says:

    Very interesting. I’m going to have to look into that. Reading what you wrote describes my husband and he’s been struggling to figure out what is going on with him.

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