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Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, aka, ADHD, is a neurodevelopmental condition that is associated with symptoms like constant distraction and difficulty concentrating. While there is no particular cure for the condition, clinics like Steady Care Medical provide ADHD treatment to manage the symptoms.

In most cases, this condition is more commonly diagnosed in children. This means that most kids suffering from ADHD get put on certain medications, behavioral therapy, counseling, etc., early on.

But, it’s crucial to remember that adults too are affected by this disorder. Unfortunately, many adults live their lives without the knowledge of their ADHD. Oftentimes, the condition goes undiagnosed in adults. However, it does not mean that these adults do not suffer due to their medical condition.

Undiagnosed Adult ADHD

To begin with, let’s discuss what ADHD looks like in an adult and what happens if it goes undiagnosed.

What ADHD Looks Like in Adults

ADHD has similar signs and symptoms in both child and adult patients. It is most often characterized by an inability to concentrate and focus, along with heightened impulsive behavior and hyperactivity in patients.

Let’s go over some of the basic, and most common adult ADHD symptoms:

  • Impulsiveness
  • Excessive restlessness
  • Low tolerance
  • Inability to focus or concentrate on a task
  • Inability to multitask
  • Poor time management
  • Poor planning
  • Constant fidgeting
  • Constant mood swings
  • Difficulty in starting or completing tasks
  • Forgetfulness
  • Emotional dysregulation

Most adults once diagnosed with ADHD have to manage their symptoms for a lifetime. But with the right treatment, these symptoms can be managed. With undiagnosed individuals, the situation becomes different.

Impact on Work Performance

ADHD is associated with symptoms like – poor time management, inability to concentrate, forgetfulness and procrastination amongst others. All these symptoms can be noticed in adults who haven’t been diagnosed or aren’t getting ADHD treatment.

These symptoms can make it hard for adults to get employed or retain their employment for long periods. Their inability to navigate the workplace or stay concentrated on work can pose a hindrance to their overall performance at work. If patients begin their treatment early on (during childhood), these symptoms become much easier to handle. Even as adults, getting the right ADHD treatment can help them retain employment.

Impact on Relationships

As ADHD patients, individuals lack the patience required to maintain a relationship. Along with poor listening skills, low frustration tolerance as well as an impulsive disposition, it becomes hard for patients to maintain any meaningful and long-lasting relationships, romantic or otherwise.

Impact on Criminal Offenses

Patients diagnosed with ADHD as children are more likely to be involved in both minor and major criminal offenses as young adults. Some common offenses include traffic violations, possession of a weapon, possession of illegal drugs, property theft, etc.

Impact on Substance Abuse

Undiagnosed ADHD patients are not without symptoms. Therefore, it is a common sight that undiagnosed patients try to self-medicate with illegal substances. Even diagnosed patients that are unable to afford the recommended ADHD treatment tend to depend on alcohol and other substances to manage their symptoms.

Co-Existing Medical Conditions That Adult ADHD Patients Suffer 

Adult ADHD symptoms don’t exist alone. Instead, there are a bunch of other medical conditions that co-exist with ADHD. These include anxiety disorders, mood disorders, learning disabilities, and other psychiatric disorders.

Mood Disorders: These include depression, bipolar disorder, etc. While ADHD does not directly instigate this condition, the symptoms associated with ADHD can lead to depressive episodes in patients.

Anxiety Disorders: Most common symptoms of an anxiety disorder are nervousness, constant worry, and fidgety behavior. All of these symptoms can be made worse with ADHD.

Learning Disabilities: ADHD patients have a hard time concentrating at school or work. This means that they may lack knowledge and understanding of things that are normally understood by others of their age.

Other Psychiatric Disabilities: ADHD patients are more prone to be diagnosed with other conditions like Personality Disorders, Intermittent Explosive Disorder, Substance Abuse Disorder, etc.

Why Is ADHD Often Untreated in Adults?

Adult ADHD may look a little different than ADHD in children. One major characteristic of the condition in children is the associated hyperactivity. However, when it comes to adults, especially adult females, these symptoms aren’t as visible. Adults and even females in all age groups have less hyperactive symptoms which can often lead to a misdiagnosis or undiagnosed condition.

Therefore, going about the ADHD hyperactivity symptoms, only young boys are diagnosed and thus, treated on time.

On the contrary, women are predominantly inattentive and exhibit symptoms more closely associated with other mental health issues. Since these conditions co-exist in most cases, women tend to get diagnosed with these conditions before ADHD.

Treatment of ADHD in Adults

Most adult patients, benefit from a combination of medications and therapy to overcome their symptoms and lead a normal life.

Medications

Patients invest in two types of ADHD medications, namely,

  • Stimulants
  • Non-stimulants

Stimulants are usually the first choice of medication for ADHD patients (children) and it works by reducing hyperactivity, impulsivity, and distractibility. Methylphenidate and Amphetamine are used in all stimulant medications and take 45-60 minutes to show effects.

If a stimulant doesn’t work on a patient, physicians often recommend non-stimulants like Atomoxetine, Clonidine, Guanfacine, or Qelbree. These take 5-7 days to show effects like better focus, improved mood, ability to focus, improved memory, better sleep, etc.

Therapy

While medication alone can have a great impact on some patients’ ability to concentrate and get through their daily routine, some require the additional support of therapy. This type of coaching helps patients address challenges on a daily basis. The most common of these therapies are:

  • Cognitive Behavioral therapy
  • Dialectical Behavior Therapy
  • ADHD/Life Coaching
  • Lifestyle Modifications

Apart from the medications and therapies that a patient must take on, modifying lifestyle factors can also positively impact ADHD treatment. Simple factors like getting adequate rest, exercising or meditating regularly, maintaining a balanced diet, and consuming the right supplements is a natural way to support the treatment.

Ending Words 

ADHD symptoms often go unnoticed and undiagnosed in adults due to different factors. However, extreme delays in diagnosing these can lead to a lifetime of ADHD symptoms and other associated medical conditions. To ensure that no adults go undiagnosed, the first step is to educate the population about the most common symptoms of the condition. It is crucial to remember that hyperactivity is only common in young boys and is not the most distinctive characteristic in young girls or most adults.

Only after these health conditions are diagnosed, can the right ADHD treatment plan be followed. As a patient with ADHD, it is beneficial if you indulge in the right prescriptive treatment and enroll in therapy programs while modifying your lifestyle to suit your requirements.