Attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder

Attention Deficit Disorder in adults often includes hyperactivity, in which case it is commonly referred to as Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Adults suffering from ADHD may be characterized by a high degree of restlessness that is not only a problem for the sufferer, but it is also noticeable by and bothersome to others. Adult ADHD may include impulsivity, which is the tendency to make quick decisions and act without thought for the consequences. This degree of impulsivity can be harmful to the individual (e.g., crossing the street without looking) and bothersome to others, especially in relationships. High impulsivity may be motivated by a quest for immediate rewards and the inability to delay gratification. This can manifest itself in social intrusiveness (e.g., interrupting others excessively) and in making important decisions without proper planning or understanding of their implications (e.g., making an investment without adequate information, quitting a job for trivial reasons). In all cases, the essential feature of adult ADHD is a a pervasive, noticeable pattern of inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity that interferes with functioning and may cause severe distress. It is a severe disorder that will not resolve itself without treatment. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and medication is the approach that has been shown to produce the best results.

A difficult diagnosis

The importance of an accurate diagnosis. Two criteria are of paramount importance in arriving at an accurate diagnosis of adult ADHD: the age of onset and the presence of symptoms in more than one setting. When only one of these two criteria is present, i.e. the symptoms are of relatively recent onset or the behaviors occur only at home, a differential diagnosis must be considered. In this case, it may be said the individual suffers from “symptoms of adult ADHD” without qualifying for a full clinical diagnosis.
The first criterion mandates that the onset of the major symptoms of attention deficit (with or without hyperactivity) must have been observed prior to the age of 12. Given the notorious unreliability of self-reports by individuals who may be affected by this condition, it is important to verify the existence of the symptoms with one or more individuals (parents, older siblings) who may have directly observed the patient around the age of onset.
The second criterion mandates that the major symptoms of adult ADHD must occur in more than one setting to warrant a full clinical diagnosis. For example, the symptoms must occur at home and at work, or at home and in school. When the symptoms appear only in one setting (e.g., at home) and seem to disappear in other settings (e.g., at work), a full clinical diagnosis of adult ADHD is not warranted and other causes of the dysfunctional behaviors must be assumed and investigated.

Get help

To make an appointment with Dr. Z, call (678) 554-5632 or click the blue button to request an appointment using the online form. We can go over your current situation, identify the ways in which adult attention deficit and/or hyperactivity are affecting your life and that of your loved ones, or how current conflicts or chaotic living are impairing important relationships. We will put some dimensions to the problem, and identify your current resources that may be applied toward meaningful and lasting change. If additional resources and skills are needed, we will treat your severe symptoms of ADHD with CBT and help you feel calmer and increase your ability to choose the most appropriate response to each situation. Treating adult ADHD is feasible, it’s proven to be effective, and has helped many people who had a variety of different symptoms and challenges. Call and make your appointment today and we can get started!

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