Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is not limited to children — 30% to 70% of kids with ADHD continue having symptoms when they grow up. In addition, people who were never diagnosed as kids may develop more obvious symptoms in adulthood, causing trouble on the job or in relationships.
Signs of adult ADHD include the following which people often overlook identifying the disease. Keeping a close eye may help to some extent.
Running late: Adults with ADHD may be chronically late for work or important events. Adults may realise that their tardiness is undermining their goals, but they just cannot seem to be on time.
Risky driving: One of the hallmarks of ADHD is difficulty keeping your mind on the task at hand. That spells trouble for teens and adults when they are behind the wheel of a vehicle. Studies show that people with ADHD are more likely to speed and have accidents.
Distraction: Adults with ADHD may have trouble prioritising, starting and finishing tasks. They tend to be disorganised, restless, and easily distracted. Some people with ADHD have trouble concentrating while reading.
Outbursts: Adults with ADHD may have problems with self-control. This can lead to difficulty controlling anger, impulsive behaviours and blurting out rude or insulting thoughts.
Hyperfocus: Some adults with ADHD can focus intently on things they enjoy or find interesting — the ability to hyperfocus. But they struggle to pay attention to tasks that bore them. People with ADHD tend to put off boring tasks in favor of more enjoyable activities.
What causes ADHD?
In people with ADHD, brain chemicals called neurotransmitters are less active in areas of the brain that control attention. Researchers do not know exactly what causes this chemical imbalance, but they think genes may play a role, because ADHD often runs in families. Studies have also linked ADHD to prenatal exposure to cigarettes and alcohol.
Diagnosing ADHD in adults
Many adults do not learn that they have ADHD until they get help for another problem, such as anxiety or depression. Discussing poor habits, troubles at work, or marital conflicts often reveals that ADHD is at fault. To confirm the diagnosis, the disorder must have been present during childhood, even if it was never diagnosed. Old report cards or talking with relatives can document childhood problems, such as poor focus and hyperactivity.
Complications of adult ADHD
Coping with the symptoms of adult ADHD can be frustrating in itself. At the same time, many adults with ADHD struggle with depression, anxiety, or obsessive compulsive disorder. They are also more likely to smoke or abuse drugs. People with ADHD can limit these problems by seeking proper treatment.
Medications for ADHD
The most common medicines for ADHD are stimulants. It may seem ironic that people who are restless or hyperactive get help from stimulants. These drugs may sharpen concentration and curb distractibility by fine-tuning brain circuits that affect attention.
Counselling for ADHD
Most adults with ADHD improve when they start medication, but they may continue to struggle with poor habits and low self-esteem. Counselling for ADHD focuses on getting organised, setting helpful routines, repairing relationships and improving social skills. There is evidence that cognitive-behavioural therapy is particularly helpful in managing problems of daily life that are associated with ADHD.
Diet tips for adults with ADHD
Some experts believe foods that provide quality brain fuel could reduce symptoms of ADHD. High-protein foods, including nuts, meat, beans, and eggs, may improve concentration. Replacing simple carbs with complex carbs, like whole-grain pasta or brown rice, can help ward off mood swings and stabilise energy levels.
Outlook for adults with ADHD
Adults with ADHD do not outgrow the condition, but many learn to manage it successfully. Long-term treatment can reduce problems at home and at work, bringing patients closer to their families and their professional goals.