Dr. Roxanne Dryden-Edwards is an adult, child, and adolescent psychiatrist. She is a former Chair of the Committee on Developmental Disabilities for the American Psychiatric Association, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, and Medical Director of the National Center for Children and Families in Bethesda, Maryland.
Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.
What is attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)?
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), also referred to by some as attention deficit disorder (ADD), is classified as a behavioral disorder that has neurocognitive issues involved. The symptoms of this disorder have been described in the known medical literature for at least the past 200 years. ADHD is characterized by problems focusing, sitting still,
and/or controlling impulses.
What is the impact of ADHD in adults?
Adults affected by ADHD can be challenged in their ability to make and keep friends and other relationships, do well in school, at work, and/or in the community in general. Early treatment of ADHD may prevent a number of further problems from developing during adulthood. While men with this condition tend to develop substance-abuse
disorders more often than women with the condition, men and women tend to have
trouble getting and keeping jobs at an equal rate.
How common is ADHD in adults?
ADHD is quite common. Among school-aged children, this disorder has been found to occur from 2%-20%, translating to
4.5 million children 3 to 17 years of age. The onset of the disorder for most individuals is usually sometime during the school-age
years. While boys are still thought to develop this illness more often than
girls, improved assessment of girls has resulted in the gender gap in diagnosis
being significantly less than in years past. Up to about 60% of children with
ADHD grow into adults with continued challenges as a result of the disorder.
Approximately 1%-6% of adults are estimated to have ADHD. In adults, women are
thought to suffer from ADHD at a rate that is much closer to equal compared to
What are common
adult ADHD symptoms, behaviors, and problems?
People with adult ADHD may have lower self-esteem than adults without this
disorder. Some studies on adults with ADHD show that more than two-thirds may have another mental health condition, and about 50% have two other such conditions. The most common other problems that adults with ADHD suffer from include drug abuse and addiction,
and mood, anxiety, and personality disorders. In terms of personality disorders, adults with ADHD are at risk for developing antisocial personality disorder and borderline personality disorder. More than
one-third of adults with ADHD need adult mental health treatment.
Reviewed by William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR on 4/4/2013
Like children, adults who suspect they have ADHD should be evaluated by a
licensed mental health professional. But the professional may need to consider a
wider range of symptoms when assessing adults for ADHD because their symptoms
tend to be more varied and possibly not as clear cut as symptoms seen in
To be diagnosed with the condition, an adult must have ADHD symptoms that
began in childhood and continued throughout adulthood.15 Health professionals
use certain rating scales to determine if an adult meets the diagnostic criteria
for ADHD. The mental health professional also will look at the person's history
of childhood behavior and school experiences, and will interview spouses or
partners, parents, close friends, and other associates. The person will also
undergo a physical exam and various psychological tests.
For some adults, a diagnosis of ADHD can bring a sense of relief. Adults who
have had the disorder since childhood, but who have not been diagnosed, may have
developed negative feelings about themselves over the years. Receiving a
diagnosis allows them to understand the reasons for their problems, and
treatment will allow them to deal with their problems more effectively.