ADHD (Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder) has been both over- and under-diagnosed over the years. Some adults are never diagnosed. Some are diagnosed after their child has been. Still others are diagnosed after they have struggled to balance the demands of adulthood.
Many adults with ADHD face problems as their adult responsibilities continue to increase. They are trying to juggle more balls – managing a career, raising a family, running a household. These demands require a greater need to organize, prioritize, focus, and maintain a quality of life. This can be challenging for anyone. But, for those with ADHD, it is an ongoing stressor, not just an occasional occurrence.
There are three types of ADHD, according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition. The DSM-5 lists the full criteria for each of these three types:
- Hyperactivity and Impulsivity
- Combined Type
Untreated ADHD is a very debilitating disorder. It can lead to a life of underachievement for many intelligent and creative individuals. It can cause numerous mental and physical problems that can put a strain on relationships and cause difficulties in many aspects of everyday life. Problems of untreated ADHD can include physical health issues due to added stress with the disorder, inattentiveness or impulsivity.
Mental health issues can manifest as anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, and relationship difficulties. This often includes increased divorce rates and interpersonal issues in the workplace. Others suffer with employment and financial issues. Some face chronic boredom, lateness or forgetfulness. Many have trouble concentrating when reading, doing routine tasks or organizing their personal and work lives.
Some struggle to manage their anger, display a low tolerance for frustration, experience mood swings, and have higher rates of accidents when driving. Others have a low level of motivation and procrastinate tasks and decision-making. There also is an increased risk of substance abuse or other addictive tendencies.
For those willing to seek help, there are treatment options that can be tailored to the individual. Research shows that regular exercise and sleep, a healthy diet and a good support network can be effective interventions. Additionally, counseling and/or coaching and medication management, when indicated by a medical doctor, can work together for optimum results and symptom management.
For additional information and resources:
www.CHADD.org (Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder National Resource Center)
www.ADD-vance.org (ADD-vance ADHD and Autism Trust)
www.addresources.org (Education for children, families and parents with ADHD)
www.russellbarkley.org (Internationally recognized authority on ADHD in children and adults)
www.drhallowell.com (Leading authority in the field of ADHD)
www.danielamenmd.com (Best-selling author, double board-certified psychiatrist, professor and brain health expert)
Patti Hall, M.S., LMHC, CAC, CSAT