Dennis B. Kottler, MD
Westlake Village, CA
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See Also: ADULT ADHD SELF-TEST
See Also: ATTENTION DEFICIT HYPERACTIVITY DISORDER
Attention Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder is a complex of behaviors that begin in childhood (prior to age 7) and often persist into adolescence or adulthood. For a detained description of ADHD please read: ATTENTION DEFICIT HYPERACTIVITY DISORDER.
Approximately 8% of U.S. children have ADHD. This is based on diagnosed cases and the number is probably significantly higher.
It was originally thought most children outgrow the disorder, but this is not true.
It is estimated that about 4.4% of U.S. adults have ADHD -- the number is probably significantly higher.
Most adults with ADHD are unaware they have the disorder, since it was never diagnosed when they were children.
Some of these adults "got by" as children, but nonetheless suffered by falling short of their potential, academically, socially, and in careers.
On the flip side, some individuals with ADHD capitalize on their charisma, creativity, energy and charm--their are many famous examples.
Some examples of a "missed diagnosis" of ADHD in childhood:
A gifted child does well in the first few years of elementary school, but falls behind later when the work is more challenging and requires more effort. Innate intelligence only carried this child so far. Ultimately, undiagnosed ADHD sabotaged further advance by interfering with the ability to sustain effort, focus on tasks one at a time, organize projects and manage time.
An undiagnosed ADHD child has comorbid problems with Anxiety, Substance Abuse, and Mood Disorders. The combination of comorbidities further interferes with academic, social, and career aspirations.
Adults with ADHD often have a life-long pattern of difficult or failed relationships, accidents (including auto accidents), failure to keep a job, and problems with substance abuse, including tobacco, marijuana, and stimulant abuse. The substances may be self-medication to make it easier for the ADHD child (or adult) to live with himself. Some of these medications seem to provide "clarity"to the individual. Sometimes they allow the person to "escape" from the mental discomfort (sometimes torment) that is ADHD.
ADULT ADHD may show variations from the symptoms typically seen in children. For example, adults may be better able to control the impulse to get up and move about, but they will feel intense restlessness. Adults may also have learned that they can mitigate symptoms by use of substances, such as nicotine, amphetamines, or coccaine. Finally, adults, having more choices than children, may have engineered a lifestyle and occupation which is more tolerant of their attention or hyperactivity problems. Such an individual might avoid a desk job in favor of a job involving travel, for example. The fast pace of sales jobs seems to work out for many ADHD adults.
Many adults with this disorder experience marital and relationship problems or problems in the workplace.
Diagnosis and Treatment
Diagnosis and treatment of ADULT Attention Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder is best left to a psychiatrist who has had considerable experience in treating this disorder. Treatment approaches generally involve the use of cognitive and behavioral techniques as well as medication, particularly psychostimulants. Other medications can also be used.
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