Just 10 – 15 years ago, it was thought that most people outgrew ADHD; therefore, it was (and is) rarely diagnosed in adults. Even now, many mental health professionals do not understand Adult ADHD, and often diagnose these patients with anxiety, depression, bipolar/manic-depressive, and even personality disorders. More recent research has demonstrated that less than 1/3 of childhood ADHD resolves by adulthood; on the other hand, more than 2/3 of children with ADHD will have symptoms as adults.
Adult ADHD (Attention Deficit Disorder) Diagnosis and Treatment
Most adults with untreated ADHD have had symptoms when they were young, but many were able to compensate for them by engaging in tutoring or by working harder than their classmates for equal or lower grades. Often, by high school or college, the work level has increased beyond what the patient’s compensatory mechanisms can override, and the patient drops out or fails out of school. This and other problems associated with untreated or undertreated ADHD can permanently damage a child’s self-esteem.
The outwardly observable symptoms usually do not disappear, but in fact change, often to less noticeable behaviors. Symptoms in early childhood may include obvious daydreaming (indicative of inattentiveness) and more severe forms of hyperactivity, the latter being more common in boys than girls. Inattentiveness in adults is often less obvious, and often undetectable, to the untrained eye, and hyperactivity may be limited to excessive talking or frequent interrupting in social situations, foot or finger tapping, and/or getting up to leave at inappropriate times from seated or sedentary activities.
Although many physicians still believe that the condition does not exist beyond childhood, treating adults with Attention Deficit Disorder is a specialty of Dr. Fairweather, who treats it very seriously.
How is it evaluated in Adults?
Dr. Fairweather will ask you a series of questions relating to the most common presentations of Adult ADHD, as well as your symptomatology during childhood. She will also be asking about your level of functioning at home and at work. In addition, you will be evaluated for medical or psychiatric illnesses that may mimic or exacerbate it.
Symptoms of ADHD range from inattention to hyperactivity and impulsivity; however, these symptoms often present differently in adults than in children, and this may partially explain why many doctors do not believe in or treat Adult ADHD.
Many physicians do not have experience in or believe in treating Adult ADHD, despite the fact that 1 in 20 adults suffer from this disabling diagnosis.
Dr. Fairweather is an expert at thoroughly reviewing your symptoms and examining the possible etiologies of the ADHD by ruling out medical or psychiatric illnesses that may mimic or exacerbate the condition. Based on her evaluation, Dr. Fairweather will formulate an individualized, comprehensive, effective treatment plan for your situation. Neuropsychological testing to confirm the diagnosis is rarely necessary, as Diagnosis of ADHD is based on DSM-IV criteria and rests on the clinical interview to assess symptoms, impairments, course of the illness, and family psychiatric history.
Common symptoms of Adult ADHD:
- Easily distracted, can’t focus on one thing without being distracted by extraneous stimuli
- Failure to pay attention to details, leading to careless mistakes
- Failure to finish work (start multiple projects, but have trouble wrapping up the final details)
- Fidgety, unable to remain seated in meetings
- Difficulty organizing
- Frequently losing or misplacing items
- Time management problems (chronically late and/or difficulty remembering appointments)
- Feeling restless or impatient
- Talking excessively or frequent interrupting
How does Dr. Fairweather treat Adult ADHD?
The gold standard for the treatment of ADHD is stimulant medication (Adderall, Ritalin, and several derivatives of each). Two-thirds of patients will respond robustly to the first stimulant prescribed; for those who do not do as well, 2/3 of that population will respond to a second stimulant medication. Thus, 90% of adult patients with ADHD respond extremely well to stimulant medications. For the remaining 10%, there are many other treatment options.
Proper Treatment is Multi-Faceted.
Our Goals Are:
- Reduce the negative symptoms
- Improve functioning
This typically includes medication, lifestyle changes, and various types of education, support, therapy, counseling, or coaching.
As an adult with Attention Deficit Disorder, you can get the help you need by scheduling an appointment with Dr. Fairweather at (817) 283-4300.
Conditions that Commonly Occur with ADD/ADHD
|Condition||Adults with ADHD who also
have this Condition
|Alcohol Abuse or
|Drug Abuse or Drug Dependence||19%|
The above disorders may mimic ADHD; more commonly, these disorders exacerbate the condition and vice versa. In ADHD patients with a mood or anxiety disorder, treatment of the mood or anxiety disorder often results in a decrease in ADHD symptoms.
In the same population of patients (ADHD and co-occurring mood or anxiety disorder), treatment of the ADHD often results in significant improvement in co-occurring conditions. Many patients must work extremely hard just to get through their day without any significant problems (they must make lists, check and re-check things to catch careless mistakes, they spend a lot of time looking for misplaced items, they struggle to keep up with coworkers or with keeping the house in order). Because of this, patients often become overwhelmed, depressed, or anxious; many self-medicate with alcohol and/or drugs.
If you have been living with your symptoms for a long time, you might feel that you don’t need to treat them. You have learned to cope. But with treatment, you could function even better at work, at home, and with your relationships. Remember, our goal is to help you attain 100% functionality.
Why is it Important to Treat Adult ADHD?
Teens with ADHD are more likely to be involved in car accidents, to break the law, to become sexually active at an earlier age, to become pregnant, and to abuse drugs and alcohol.
Adults with ADHD are twice as likely to get a divorce, are more likely to get fired, change jobs more often, and they tend to have more sexual partners and less fulfilling relationships than others.
Our goal is to provide you with personalized, thorough, effective treatment in an environment that is professional, welcoming and private. ~ Dr. Fairweather