- Susan Fletcher, Ph.D.
September is ADHD Awareness Month: Are You an Adult That Has It?
Approximately 5% of the adult population is estimated to have ADHD. It wasn't long ago that ADHD was seen as a childhood disorder where symptoms were thought to disappear with the onset of puberty. Clear scientific evidence shows that ADHD continues into adulthood. While most adults were diagnosed as children, there are many adults who are undiagnosed.
Symptoms of ADHD that you probably already know are:
Difficulty concentrating and paying attention to details.
Trouble sitting still for long periods of time.
Putting things off.
Forgetfulness in daily activities.
Getting criticized for interrupting people.
Being disorganized and having a messy car, home or office.
Starting projects without thinking through the steps.
Failing to finish tasks.
Adults with ADHD are more likely to:
Buy on impulse and have trouble saving money.
Receive speeding tickets.
Be involved in car crashes where they are at fault.
Smoke and/or use drugs.
Exhibit road rage and aggressive driving when angered.
Get fired or quit a job out of boredom.
Be disciplined on the job by a manager or supervisor.
Have higher marital dissatisfaction although not a higher divorce rate.
Let me clear up a few misconceptions about ADHD:
ADHD does exist and is not a conspiracy by scientists to medicate people. It is a real medical condition that is biologically based.
ADHD is not simply a lack of willpower.
Bad parenting does not cause ADHD. However, studies show a genetic predisposition for ADHD within families.
Adults with ADHD are not stupid or lazy. Recent studies reveal that people with ADHD actually tend to have above average intelligence but it does not show because of the ADHD.
ADHD can be treated without medication. New research indicates that you can improve brain functioning with direct, deliberate practice. This is called neuroplasticity. Relaxation, concentration and other self management exercises can improve the ability to sustain attention in some people.
Before starting any medication you should be properly diagnosed. Anxiety, depression or learning disabilities can be disguised as ADHD.
To stay in the Smart Zone learn more about ADHD. If you think you might have it, get tested by a qualified professional. It could help you refocus your career and personal life. Read my quotes in a Forbes.com article where I talk about refocusing your career.
All assessments for ADHD should be comprehensive and also assess for emotional factors and the influence of present stressors. Your quality of life, your effectiveness at work and home, and your relationships can benefit from knowing if you truly have the disorder.