ADHD is also common in teens and adults, though it can be even harder to diagnose at these ages. ADHD in adulthood is still divided into the three subtypes of ADHD in childhood. These include:
- Predominantly Inattentive Type- most difficulties are related to inattention. This type may also be called ADD or Attention Deficit Disorder. Some studies suggest that this type is more common in teens and adults than the other types.
- Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive Type- most difficulties are related to overactivity or restlessness.
- Combined Type- difficulties with both inattention and hyperactivity.
Read more about what is ADHD.
The difficulty in accurately diagnosing ADHD in very young children is determining the cause of the difficulties with attention or hyperactivity as these can be common symptoms in childhood. Read more about ADHD testing and evaluations. On the other hand, the difficulty in accurately diagnosing ADHD in adolescents or adults is twofold. The first is that the symptoms must have first started in childhood. Getting information about childhood behaviors can be difficult for the professional making the diagnosis, but also sometimes for people to remember what they were like in elementary school. The second is that the symptoms, while they may present and distressing, look different in adulthood than they do in, say, an 8 year old. For example, the description of symptoms for ADHD say things like “act as if driven by a motor.” This may be a very accurate description of how a child acts day to day, but maybe not a teen or adult. Instead, the professional making the diagnosis must get information about how the adult acted as a child, and if they still continue to seem over-active compared to their peers now. This is why it is important to seek out a comprehensive evaluation by someone who specializes in diagnosing ADHD.
This may be confusing, so how do you know if you should consult a professional? Here are some questions you can ask about your teenager or about yourself:
- Do you find yourself always running late or getting places “just in time?”
- Do you find yourself forgetting appointments or meetings?
- Is it hard for you to sit through an entire movie, meeting at work, or lecture at school?
- Do your friends or your partner tease you for being “forgetful?”
- Do you start several projects but then have difficulty finishing them?
Similar to treating ADHD in childhood, there are several options for treating ADHD in adulthood. The most commonly known treatment modality is medication. However, many professionals recommend combining medication treatment with other types of treatment including cognitive training, behavioral training, social skills training, or individual therapy. Learn more about ADHD treatment.
ADHD is not just for kids. If you answered “yes” to any of the questions above, it may be worthwhile to talk to your doctor about finding the right services for you. Not only medication, but first the right diagnosis by an expert, and then a discussion about all of the options, including medications.