ADHD stands for attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder. It is a neurodevelopmental problem with an estimated global prevalence of about 4%. This means that about 4% of the world’s population suffers from ADHD. Its signs are symptoms classified as “inattention” and “hyperactivity/impulsiveness”.
This article discusses ADHD and its differences from ADD, how ADHD is diagnosed, and explains the treatment options available for adults with ADHD.
What is the difference between ADD and ADHD?
In previous versions, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) distinguished ADD from ADHD.
People with predominant attention deficit hyperactivity disorder are diagnosed as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, while those with predominant hyperactivity/impulsive symptoms are diagnosed as hyperactivity disorder. However, many people are diagnosed with ADHD and ADHD, and both manifestations have similar treatment options.
Types of ADHD
DSM-5 divides ADHD into three different types:
- Mainly inattentive introduction
- Mainly hyperactivity/impulsive performance
- Combination demo
Mainly attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
Mainly inattention type ADHD requires an individual to have the following six or more symptoms:
- Make careless mistakes or neglect details in homework, work, or other activities
- Difficulty concentrating
- Difficult to listen when talking directly
- Difficulty in following instructions or failure to complete tasks
- Avoid or dislike tasks that require “continuous mental work”
- Throw something
- Highly disturbed by external stimuli or thoughts
- Forgetfulness in activity
Hyperactive/impulsive ADHD requires an individual to have six or more of the following symptoms:
- Fidgeting or squirming
- Leave your seat at an inappropriate time
- Running or climbing at inappropriate times
- Noise when working or playing
- Move as if they are “on the road” or “driven by a motor”
- Answer vaguely before someone completes the question
- Hard to wait for their turn
- Interrupt in the conversation
Combined ADHD requires individuals to meet the criteria for both inattention and hyperactivity/impulsive ADHD.
When is ADHD diagnosed?
Neurodevelopmental disorders, as the name suggests, occur in infancy or early childhood. DSM-5 requires symptoms before the age of 12 to diagnose ADHD. However, many people with ADHD are not diagnosed until adulthood.
When a child encounters difficulties in school, the teacher usually recommends a referral for ADHD testing. Because of this, if there is no obvious struggle, children with strong learning ability may be ignored.
White children are more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD than black, Asian, and Latino children. In addition, girls with ADHD are often missed and will not be referred for testing.
If someone was not diagnosed in childhood but noticed that they had many of these symptoms, they can seek ADHD testing in adulthood.
Adult ADHD assessment
Since ADHD is a lifetime diagnosis, it is never too old to be evaluated for ADHD. Psychologists, psychiatrists, and other medical and mental health professionals with appropriate training can diagnose ADHD. Most doctors have referral information about where their patients can get an ADHD evaluation.
There are many psychological evaluation measures that can be used to diagnose adult ADHD, including:
- Attention Variable Test (TOVA): TOVA is a computerized standardized test that measures an individual’s attention ability through visual and auditory tasks. The score compares the client’s performance with that of individuals of the same age and sex with and without ADHD.
- Conners Adult ADHD Rating Scale (CAARS): CAARS is a standardized reference scoring scale used to determine whether someone has attention difficulties, impulsivity, and hyperactivity, and whether these symptoms meet the diagnostic criteria for ADHD. The customer fills in the self-report form, and the person close to the customer fills in the observer form.
- Executive Function-Adult Behavior Rating Scale (BRIEF-A): Brief-A is a norm-referenced scoring scale used to collect information about a person’s ability to regulate impulses, complete tasks, organize, focus, and other symptoms of ADHD.
- Barkley Adult ADHD Rating Scale (BAARS): BAARS uses self-reports and observer data to link client symptoms to DSM diagnostic criteria.
The assessor will also collect detailed information about the customer’s history, usually in the form of diagnostic interviews, to provide background information for the assessment measures used.
Adult ADHD treatment
When treating any mental health diagnosis, the individual’s unique needs are prioritized. Discuss your concerns, questions, and preferences with the providers of your treatment team to determine which method is best for you and ask about the different options available to you.
Generally, treatment options for adult ADHD include medication, treatment, skill development, and appropriate accommodation.
The drug options for the treatment of adult ADHD include stimulants and non-stimulants.
Stimulants are based on amphetamine or methylphenidate, and usually come in immediate release, sustained release and sustained release forms. Examples of amphetamine-type stimulants include Adderall IR, Adderall XR and Vyvanse. Examples of methylphenidate-based stimulants include Ritalin IR, Ritalin LA, and Concerta.
Non-stimulant options may include drugs such as Strattera and Guanfacine.
Medications help regulate impulses and improve concentration. Some people take ADHD medications every day, and some take them exclusively on days when they need to complete specific tasks that require concentration. Please consult your attending physician for the choice of medications used for the diagnosis of ADHD. They will discuss options with you or refer you to experts who can help.
Adults with ADHD usually benefit from ongoing treatment services Deal with life stressors and develop behavioral skills for symptom management. Cognitive behavioral therapy, Based on mindfulness therapy, And a short motivational interview Provide evidence-based methods for adult ADHD treatment.
Continuous support is essential to everyone’s happiness. If adults with ADHD are in a long-term, loyal relationship, their partner can benefit from support to help the couple overcome the unique challenges that ADHD may pose to their relationship.
Treatment of comorbidities
More than half of ADHD adults have at least one diagnosis of comorbidity. The specific treatment plan depends on the individual’s needs and diagnosis. For example, people with ADHD may also be diagnosed as disruptive, impulse control or conduct disorder, bipolar disorder, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, depression, trauma-related disorder, substance use disorder, or personality disorder.
In addition, a large number of ADHD patients also meet the diagnostic criteria for autism spectrum disorder or learning disabilities.
Adults with ADHD can use treatment resources, regardless of whether they were diagnosed in childhood. Discuss with your healthcare provider which treatment is best for you.