Most people associate ADHD -- Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder -- with young children and teenagers who can't seem to sit still or have difficulty paying attention in class. But, did you know that up to 5% of adults currently have ADHD, and many don't even know it? ADHD doesn't begin in adulthood, so symptoms would have been present before the age of 12. Still many people, particularly those that didn’t exhibit extreme hyperactivity as a child, were never diagnosed, yet still experience clear and bothersome symptoms as adults. ADHD can interfere with everyday activities, job performance, personal relationships, and overall quality of life, so symptoms shouldn’t be ignored -- even if you’ve been dealing with them your entire life.
Adult ADHD may be difficult to pinpoint since it affects every individual and adult differently. The diagnosis process generally includes a physical exam to rule out other causes that can look like ADHD, including depression, thyroid disorders, and much more. Evaluating both family and personal medical history is also important. But an accurate diagnosis will depend on additional ADHD rating scale scores and psychological tests to help understand symptoms and the impact on everyday life. Some of the most common symptoms include:
- Problems focusing on or completing tasks
- Poor planning and time management skills
- Inability to multitask
- Avoiding tasks that require sustained concentration
- Difficulty managing stress
- Being easily distracted
- Frequently misplacing items
- Mood swings
- Sleep issues
If you have struggled with any of these symptoms since childhood and think you might have ADHD, talk to your doctor. There are treatment options and plans available, which can include therapy and stimulant medication. By working with your doctor to discover the best kind of treatment for you, ADHD can become manageable and many symptoms can be alleviated.
For most people, a diagnosis of ADHD is a relief, since it explains frustrating symptoms that they may have chalked up to laziness or not having enough self-discipline. Fortunately, ADHD is manageable, and with the right treatment most people experience an improvement in symptoms and a better quality of life. Talk to your primary care physician to determine if ADHD could be the cause of your symptoms. He or she can then recommend additional testing if necessary to make a diagnosis. Don't have a primary care doctor? El Camino Health can help. Learn more.
This article first appeared in the October 2021 edition of the HealthPerks newsletter.