Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is a neurobiological condition that is thought to affect nearly 20 percent of the American population. ADHD is a condition that affects children, adolescents, and adults of all ages. It affects more males than females; ADHD affects people of all races and cultural backgrounds.
It is believed that at least half of children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) continue to have problems as adults, comprising about 4 percent of the adult population in the U.S.
An adult with ADD has a different complex of symptoms than a child does. Often the most prominent characteristic of adult ADD is difficulty with executive functioning. As a person matures, the childhood symptoms of ADD may evolve. Common symptoms of adult ADD include:
- Poor attention; excessive distractibility
- Physical restlessness or hyperactivity
- Excessive impulsivity; saying or doing things without thinking
- Excessive and chronic procrastination
- Difficulty getting started on tasks
- Difficulty completing tasks
- Frequently losing things
- Poor organization, planning, and time management skills
- Excessive forgetfulness
Not everyone who suffers from adult ADD displays all of the symptoms, nor does every person with adult ADD experience the symptoms of ADD to the same level of severity or impairment. Adult ADD can cause problems in jobs and careers, at home, in family and other relationships, and with tasks of daily living.
It’s important to remember that the self-control and self-regulation problems seen in cases of adult ADD are not a matter of deliberate choice. These problems are caused by neurological events or conditions. People with adult ADD know how to behave. They generally know what is expected in a given situation. But they run into trouble at the point of performance — that moment in time when they must inhibit behavior to meet situational demands. Their troubles may show up in how they act in the outside world, or internally. They characteristically have inconsistent performance. This inconsistency is often mistaken for a lack of regard or respect, or as a lack of effort.
There is no cure for adult ADD. When properly diagnosed and treated, adult ADD can be well managed, leading to increased satisfaction in life and significant improvements in daily functioning.
It’s often recommended that those who suffer from adult ADD seek the help of a psychologist or psychiatrist, because three out of four adults with ADD also suffer from other problems, including depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety, alcohol and substance abuse and learning disabilities. It’s unlikely that treatment for any of these problems will succeed unless ADD is identified and treated as well. Similarly, just treating adult ADD probably won’t make other disorders go away.