Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a common neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by an ongoing inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity pattern.

The symptoms usually occur together, although one may occur without the other. ADHD can impact many aspects of an individual’s life and lead to unstable relationships, poor work performance, and low self-esteem. It usually begins in early childhood and can persist well into adulthood. An estimated 8.4% of children and 2.5% of adults in the U.S. have ADHD. This condition is more commonly diagnosed in males than in females.

Types of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder

According to the predominant symptoms, ADHD can be broken down into three distinct categories:

Predominantly inattentive presentation

Predominantly inattentive presentation – People with this type may experience more inattention symptoms than hyperactivity and impulsivity. They may find it difficult to sustain attention, organize tasks and activities or follow instructions. They are also easily distracted and tend to have weak working memory. This type of ADHD is more commonly diagnosed in females than in males.

Predominantly hyperactive-impulsive presentation

Predominantly hyperactive-impulsive presentation – Symptoms of hyperactivity and impulsivity define this type. People with this type feel the need to move constantly and may often fidget, squirm or struggle with being seated. They may also talk excessively, interrupt others, grab things from people, and struggle with self-control. This is the least common type of ADHD and is most often diagnosed in children and males.

Combined presentation

Combined presentation – This is the most common type of ADHD, and people with this type exhibit a combination of inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity symptoms. It’s important to note that symptoms of ADHD can change over time. Hence, the presentation can change over time as well.

Signs and Symptoms

Typically, adults with ADHD exhibit fewer hyperactivity tendencies, but they may still experience the following:

  • Difficulty getting started on and completing tasks or activities
  • Poor attention to detail (often leading to careless mistakes)
  • Unable to focus and prioritize
  • Difficulty remaining silent, speaking out of turn, blurting out responses, and frequently interrupting others.
  • Unable to continue tasks that require sustained mental effort
  • Poor time management and organization skills
  • Low self-esteem
  • Forgetfulness
  • Impulsiveness
  • Extremely impatient
  • Unable to deal with stress
  • Restlessness
  • Depression
  • Frequent mood swings

Anxiety, mood disorders, and substance use disorders are some co-occurring mental health conditions that may arise with ADHD.

Risk Factors

Researchers are unsure what causes ADHD, but many studies suggest that genetics play a significant role. Researchers are also looking into other possible causes and risk factors, including:

  • Brain injury
  • Environmental risks, such as exposure to lead during pregnancy or at a young age
  • Alcohol, tobacco, or other substance use during pregnancy
  • Premature delivery
  • Low birth weight

Diagnosis and Treatment

Healthcare providers use the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V) to diagnose adults with ADHD. The DSM-V lists nine symptoms that suggest predominantly inattentive presentation and nine different symptoms that suggest predominantly hyperactive-impulsive presentation. An adult may be diagnosed with either type if they demonstrate at least five of the nine symptoms in two or more settings, such as at work or home, for at least six months.

Healthcare providers may also use the following to diagnose adults with ADHD:

  • A physical examination to rule out other possible causes for the symptoms
  • A clinical interview to gather information about current medical issues, family medical history, and history of the symptoms
  • ADHD rating scales completed by the adult or someone close to them to assess their symptoms, strengths, and weaknesses

In most cases, ADHD in adults is best treated with medication and psychotherapy.

  • Medication – Certain medications can reduce hyperactivity and impulsivity and help people focus, learn and work.
  • Psychotherapy – Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical-behavioral therapy (DBT) help people with ADHD get organized and motivated to take on specific challenges by using conditioning.

Other treatment options include:

  • Family therapy – Facilitates better communication between family members of a person with ADHD and the individual themselves, as well as the reduction of disruptive behaviors.
  • Vocational counseling – Assists those with ADHD to achieve higher professional achievement and personal fulfillment.
  • Support groups – Facilitates communication between those coping with ADHD and those who understand their struggles.

Turning Point Centers are unparalleled in their ability to address mental health disorders in adults. Our compassionate clinicians offer individualized care to those battling mental health conditions through residential treatment, day treatment (PHP), and intensive outpatient programs. Contact a Turning Point center now to find out more about ADHD treatment options.

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