Did you have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) as a child? Did you outgrow it?
New research suggests that many kids with ADHD do not outgrow it. According to a report, published in the March 4 online edition of Pediatrics (and summarized by the Mayo Clinic here), 29 percent of children with ADHD still have it as adults. Moreover, 81percent of those adults who have persistent ADHD also have another psychiatric disorder (such as depression, anxiety or substance abuse). As you can see, ADHD is a real behavioral health problem.
Even though the diagnostic criteria are the same for adults and children, ADHD can manifest somewhat differently in adults than in kids. To determine whether you might have adult ADHD and need to speak with your primary care physician, ask yourself the following questions:
- Am I disorganized?
- Do I wait untill the last minute?
- Do I lose things?
- Am I forgetful?
- Do I start lots of projects but finish very few?
- Do I misjudge time and run late frequently?
- Do I make impulsive decisions with my money, job or social life?
- Do I have trouble controlling my anger?
- Do I have difficulty concentrating?
Hyperactivity in adults may result in feelings of inner restlessness, fidgeting or a need to expend energy.
Impulsivity in adults may cause them to act first and think second, interrupt others or engage in dangerous behaviors, such as speeding, gambling or spending sprees.
Adults with ADHD may find their moods go up and down quickly, alternating between excitement and boredom or discontent. They may have a low stress tolerance and feel overwhelmed.
If you think you might have adult ADHD, help is available. I recommend you see your primary care physician to confirm the diagnosis and discuss treatment. For a summary of treatment options, which are similar in adults and kids, see my blog post on ADHD in kids. Since adult ADHD often coexists with other behavioral health problems, be sure to discuss with your primary care provider any feelings of anxiety or depression as well as use of alcohol or other substances.
You may not outgrow your childhood ADHD, but you can get help for it. Take control of your ADHD and improve your quality of life!