Many people with Adult ADHD may not even realise they have it. It is a developmental disorder which starts in childhood and may carry on into adulthood. Some may find that the symptoms experienced in childhood become less pronounced as they enter adulthood, others find that their symptoms do continue into adulthood and can become severe enough to interfere with day to day life.
Adult ADHD (or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) can be tricky to diagnose because it often presents with symptoms similar to mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, OCD and personality disorder. What’s more, if you have ADHD you are more likely to experience a mental health condition such as depression, sleep disorders, substance abuse, anxiety, bipolar disorder, OCD and problems with social interaction and relationships.
There are in fact two categories of ADHD – inattentiveness, and hyperactivity and impulsiveness. For those who may have problems with inattentiveness but not hyperactivity and impulsiveness, a diagnosis of ADD (or Attention Deficit Disorder) is more likely.
An adult with ADHD will often find it difficult to focus on tasks, to prioritise or to control impulses, manifesting in mood swings and bouts of anger. In practical terms this can lead to missed deadlines, forgotten meetings or arrangements, poor organisational skills, a lack of attention to detail, speaking out of turn or impulsively, unnecessary risk taking, all of which can often cause a strain on relationships.
Consultant psychiatrist, Dr Adrian Winbow explains some of the symptoms of ADHD and how it is diagnosed in his series of videos.
Specialists use an agreed list of common symptoms when diagnosing the condition. If five or more of these symptoms are present, then a diagnosis of Adult ADHD will be given. These symptoms must however have been present in childhood. As part of the assessment for diagnosis, adults will be asked to complete a standardised diagnostic questionnaire and will be asked detailed questions about their childhood and behaviour which may also involve the views of parents and/or siblings who are able to give further information on childhood behaviour.
It is thought that those who have a family history of ADHD – about one third have one parent with the condition – or who were born prematurely or with a low birth weight, or those with epilepsy are more at risk of developing ADHD. There is also some evidence that maternal smoking can cause genetic changes which can make it more likely for ADHD to develop.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for ADHD but the condition can be managed with medication and psychotherapy such as CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy). There are also ways to manage the effects the condition can have on daily life. Some find list making and automatic reminders useful in improving organisational skills; regular exercise a good way of letting off steam and relaxation techniques such as mindfulness, or listening to relaxing music useful. Organisations such as ADHD UK can also provide useful information and support on ADHD.
If you think you may have ADHD, contact us for an appointment and an ADHD assessment with one of our consultant psychiatrists.