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Adult ADHD FAQs

Reviewed by Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

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Q:Who is at greater risk for developing ADHD?

A:Male gender and a family history of the condition are both risk factors for developing ADHD.

Further risk factors include low birth weight and low paternal education.

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Q:What behaviors and problems are common in adults with ADHD?

A:A history of poor educational performance, difficulty concentrating, and relationship problems are common in adults with ADHD.

Symptoms of ADHD in adults include problems with remembering information, following directions, organization, concentration, and adhering to time limits. These symptoms, when poorly controlled, can lead to issues like relationship difficulties, social problems (including a lower socioeconomic status) and educational or vocational problems.

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Q:10% of adults suffer from ADHD. True or False?

A:False. Overall, ADHD is believed to affect 2 to 6% of all adults.

Among children with ADHD, about 60% will go on to have some symptoms of the condition in adulthood, and about 50% have symptoms severe enough to qualify for a diagnosis of ADHD in adulthood.

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Q:What are symptoms of hyperactivity in adults with ADHD?

A:Fidgeting, jumpiness, nervousness, or excessive movement are all symptoms of hyperactivity in adults with ADHD.

Hyperactivity can be associated with other symptoms like problems with concentration, excessive talking, or staying focused on a task. Hyperactivity is a hallmark symptom of ADHD.

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Q:How many types of ADHD are there?

A:Doctors classify ADHD into three types.

The three types of ADHD are known as predominately inattentive type, predominately hyperactive/impulsive type, and the combined type (having symptoms of both types).

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Q:What kinds of difficulties are seen in adults with ADHD?

A:Procrastination, low frustration tolerance, and chronic boredom are commonly seen in adults with ADHD.

Behaviors and emotions such as low tolerance for frustration, boredom, and procrastination can be related directly to the diagnosis of ADHD or may result from adjustment difficulties often faced by those who suffer from ADHD. These symptoms can be mild or severe and can vary with the situation. Other symptoms that can occur in adults with ADHD are chronic lateness, forgetfulness, concentration disturbances, difficulty with anger management, impulsiveness, low self-esteem, mood swings, poor organization skills, and relationship problems.

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Q:Usually, how are adults diagnosed with ADHD?

A:The diagnosis of adult ADHD is usually established via a questionnaire or self-test.

Examples of self-rating questionnaires that are used to establish the diagnosis of adult ADHD include Conners' Adult ADHD Rating Scale, or CAARS, as well as the Adult Self Report Scale. These are based on symptoms checklists for children and have been revised to screen for ADHD symptoms in adults.

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Q:How is ADHD in adults treated?

A:As with children and teens, stimulant drugs are the primary medical treatment for ADHD in adults.

About two-thirds of adults with ADHD who take these medications show significant improvement in ADHD symptoms. Examples of stimulant medications that may be used to manage ADHD in adults include Adderall XR®, Concerta®, Focalin XR®, Quillivant XR®, and Vyvanse®.

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Q:What is "diversion" as it relates to ADHD treatment?

A:Diversion is a practice of transferring medication to another individual for whom it was not prescribed.

Short-acting stimulant medications are the most common ADHD drugs at risk for diversion. Experimentation, help with studying, and improved alertness are among the reasons cited for the use of non-prescribed ADHD medications.

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Q:Those who are unable to curb their immediate reactions or think before they act are referred to as what?

A:Those who are unable to curb their immediate reactions or think before they act are referred to as impulsive.

Impulsivity is the apparent inability to curb one's immediate reactions or to think before acting. Those who are impulsive may behave inappropriately or act impatient as a consequence of this symptom. Impulsivity is a common feature of ADHD in adults and children.

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Q:What is hyperfocus?

A:Hyperfocus is the practice of focusing intensely on one thing or event to the extent that focus on required or necessary tasks is lost.

Hyperfocus can be a symptom of ADHD in adults and children.

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Q:It is possible that an adult with ADHD will show no symptoms. True or False?

A:True.

Since adults are more mature than children and teens, they may be able to better control their symptoms of ADHD. As a result, they may display few to no recognizable symptoms of the condition.

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