Adult Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

Adult attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is the psychiatric condition of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in adults. About one-third to two-thirds of children with symptoms from early childhood continue to demonstrate ADHD symptoms throughout life.

Three types of ADHD are identified in the DSM-5 as:

Predominantly Inattentive Type (ADHD-PI or ADHD-I)
Predominantly Hyperactive or Hyperactive-Impulsive Type (ADHD-PH or ADHD-HI)
Combined Type (ADHD-C)
In later life, the hyperactive/impulsive subtype manifests less frequently.  The hyperactivity symptoms tend to turn more into “inner restlessness”, starting in adolescence and carrying on in adulthood.

Adult ADHD is typically marked by inattention and hyperfocus, hyperactivity (often internalised as restlessness), emotional dysregulation, and excessive mind wandering. Specifically, adults with ADHD present with persistent difficulties in following directions, remembering information, concentrating, organizing tasks, completing work within specified time frames and appearing timely in appointments. These difficulties affect several different areas of an ADHD adult’s life, causing emotional, social, vocational, marital, legal, financial and/or academic problems. As a result, low self-esteem is commonly developed. However, given the right guidance and coaching, these traits of ADHD could also lead to career success.

Diagnosis follows one or several psychiatric assessment which may include examination of personal history, observational evidence from family members or friends, academic reports, often going back to school years, as well as evaluation to diagnose additional possible conditions which often coexist with ADHD, called comorbidities or comorbid disorders.

The condition often runs in families, and while its exact causes are not fully known, genetic or environmental factors are understood to play a part. ADHD often – but not always – is a childhood-onset condition.Children under treatment will migrate to adult health services if necessary as they transit into adulthood, however diagnosis of adults involves full examination of their history.

Treatment of ADHD is usually based on a combination of behavioral interventions and medication. Exercise, sufficient sleep and nutritious food are also known to have a positive effect. Within school and work, reasonable accommodations may be put in place by structuring work tasks and setting up clear rules and limits for tasks.


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