Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder that can persist into adulthood, affecting an estimated 8 million adult Americans. However, adult ADHD often goes undiagnosed or misdiagnosed due to the condition presenting differently than in childhood. Recognizing the signs, getting properly diagnosed and following an effective treatment plan are critical for adults with ADHD to reach their full potential.
Symptoms and Signs of ADHD in Adults
The core symptoms of adult ADHD include inattention, impulsivity, hyperactivity and emotional dysregulation. Adults with ADHD typically struggle with:
- Difficulty concentrating and staying focused
- Disorganization, forgetfulness and difficulty completing tasks
- Restlessness and trouble sitting still
- Impulsive behaviors and decision making
- Problems with time management and meeting deadlines
- Emotional dysregulation and mood swings
- Relationship issues, underperformance at work or school
Adult ADHD red flags also include a childhood history of ADHD symptoms, a family history of the disorder and problems with organization, focus and impulsiveness persisting since youth.
Getting Diagnosed with Adult ADHD
If you suspect you have undiagnosed ADHD, it is essential to be properly evaluated by a psychiatrist or psychologist.
It is important to know at the outset that the ADHD assessment process can take time. The goal is not to quickly start stimulant medication but rather to discover whether you actually have ADHD. There is no single definitive test for diagnosing ADHD. A clinical evaluation involves:
- Psychiatric assessment of current and past ADHD symptoms
- Interview about medical, family, school and work history
- Rating scales and questionnaires
- Diagnostic criteria from the DSM-5 psychiatric manual
A proper adult ADHD diagnosis requires a thorough evaluation of symptom history beginning from childhood. Providing copies of old report cards, records and evaluations can help provide your clinician a longitudinal view of your symptoms.
Effective Treatment Options for Adult ADHD
Though ADHD has no cure, the right treatment plan can significantly improve ADHD symptoms and quality of life. A multifaceted approach may include:
- Stimulant medications like Vyvanse, Azstarys and Jornay to improve focus, concentration and impulse control
- Non-stimulant medications like Strattera and Qelbree as alternatives
- Cognitive behavioral therapy to develop coping strategies
- Education and organization skills coaching
- Mindfulness training, exercise and routines for lifestyle structure
Take Control of Adult ADHD
Adult ADHD is highly treatable with appropriate diagnosis and management. Our practice has deep expertise in recognizing ADHD across the lifespan and creating individualized treatment plans. Treatment starts with taking the first step - schedule an evaluation.
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