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ADHD in adults- Symptoms and Management

WHAT IS ADHD?

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a disorder marked by an ongoing pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity that interferes with functioning or development. ADHD symptoms are the product of complex interactions of neuroanatomical and neurochemical systems.

In some cases, contributory factors may include prenatal toxic exposures, prematurity and prenatal mechanical insult due to the fetal nervous system.

STATISTICS

  • ADHD occurs in about 2.5% of adults.

  • The rate of ADHD in parents and siblings of children with ADHD is 2 to 8 times greater than in the general population.

  • Etiology of ADHD is largely genetic, with a heritability of approximately 75%


KEY POINTS

  • The symptoms do not occur suddenly

  • They are not situation specific

  • There is generally a history of symptoms as a child. Symptoms might be displayed differently as an adult

  • There can be co-morbid conditions like anxiety, depression etc

  • Adults generally face difficulty with attention and memory rather than hyperactivity


SYMPTOMS

A continuing pattern of inattention and / or hyperactivity that affect daily functioning-

  • Easily distracted (By outside events, objects or unrelated thoughts)

  • Difficulty to give close attention to details (eg. careless mistakes, work is inaccurate)

  • Difficulty in maintaining focus (eg. mind wanders during meetings, conversations or lengthy reading)

  • Often does not follow through instructions (eg. leaving work incomplete, starting work but losing focus midway etc)

  • Difficulty in organizing (eg. when managing sequential tasks, keeping belongings in order, poor time management, unable to meet deadlines etc)

  • Often avoids or dislikes doing tasks that require sustained attention (eg. preparing reports, completing forms, reviewing projects/ papers etc.)

  • Loses things for daily tasks 9eg. keys, mobile, wallet etc.)

  • Constant Fidgeting (with hands, feet or any object)

  • Finds it difficult to remain seated (leaving a seat often at workplace or movements while in a meeting etc)

  • Often 'on the go' (Feeling restless)

  • Often talks excessively


HOW TO MANAGE IT

  • Maintain a routine

  • Use tools for scheduling daily tasks

  • Using reminders

  • Assigning a fix place for keys, bills, and paperwork

  • Dividing big goal in small, manageable tasks

  • Channelize energy into productive activities

  • Consult Psychiatrist for medicines- Medicines are considered to be the first- line choice for treatment.

  • Reach out for a professional counselor or therapist


HOW DO I KNOW I NEED EVALUATION

  • Losing/ quitting/ Changing jobs frequently

  • Forgetting important things or getting upset easily over minor things

  • Difficulty in managing everyday responsibilities, such as completing household chores, maintenance tasks, paying bills or organizing things etc

  • History of academic and/or career underachievement

  • Relationship problems due to communication difficulties or not completing tasks

  • Chronic stress and worry due to failure to finish tasks, achieve goals and meet responsibilities

  • Chronic and intense feelings of frustration, guilt or blame

Source of information: Synopsis of Psychiatry; Kaplan and Sadock, 11th ed.

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