Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: ADHD in Adults

What Is Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)?

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is one of the most well-recognized childhood developmental problems. This condition is characterized by inattention, hyperactivity and impulsiveness. It is now known that these symptoms continue into adulthood for about 60% of children with ADHD. That translates into 4% of the US adult population, or 8 million adults. However, few adults are identified or treated for adult ADHD.

ADHD in Adults

Adults with ADHD may have difficulty following directions, remembering information, concentrating, organizing tasks or completing work within time limits. If these difficulties are not managed appropriately, they can cause associated behavioral, emotional, social, vocational and academic problems.

Adult ADHD Statistics

  • ADHD afflicts approximately 3% to 10% of school-aged children and an estimated 60% of those will maintain the disorder into adulthood.
  • Prevalence rates for ADHD in adults are not as well determined as rates for children, but fall in the 4% to 5% range.
  • ADHD affects males at higher rate than females in childhood, but this ratio seems to even out by adulthood.

Common Behaviors and Problems of Adult ADHD

The following behaviors and problems may stem directly from ADHD or may be the result of related adjustment difficulties:

  • Chronic lateness and forgetfulness.
  • Anxiety.
  • Low self-esteem.
  • Employment problems.
  • Difficulty controlling anger.
  • Impulsiveness.
  • Substance abuse or addiction.
  • Poor organization skills.
  • Procrastination.
  • Low frustration tolerance.
  • Chronic boredom.
  • Difficulty concentrating when reading.
  • Mood swings.
  • Depression.
  • Relationship problems.

These behaviors may be mild to severe and can vary with the situation or be present all of the time. Some adults with ADHD may be able to concentrate if they are interested in or excited about what they are doing. Others may have difficulty focusing under any circumstances. Some adults look for stimulation, but others avoid it. In addition, adults with ADHD can be withdrawn and antisocial, or they can be overly social and unable to be alone.

School-Related Impairments Linked to Adult ADHD

Adults with ADHD may have:

  • Had a history of poorer educational performance and were underachievers.
  • Had more frequent school disciplinary actions.
  • Had to repeat a grade.
  • Dropped out of school more often.

Work-Related Impairments Linked to Adult ADHD

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