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Accurate information on mental health issues is not easy to come by. Use the tabs above to find links to other reliable sources or to learn more about ADHD/ADD.

ADHD/ADD

What is adult ADHD/ADD?

Adult Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder is a medical condition that begins in childhood. It consists of inattentiveness and/or hyperactivity. “ADD” is an older term. “ADHD” is divided into the inattentive sub-type, the hyperactive sub-type, and the combined type.

Physicians used to think that ADHD did not persist or rarely persisted into adulthood. It is now clear that this is not the case. The inattentive symptoms are especially likely to persist. The hyperactive symptoms often linger as excessive talking or mental restlessness.

Worldwide, about 6 to 8% of children have ADHD. About 75% of those diagnosed as children continue to exhibit symptoms as teenagers. About 4 to 5% of adults suffer from it.

ADHD is a heritable disorder. In studies of twins separated at birth, when one twin suffers from ADHD, there is a 75% chance the other does as well.

ADHD is best thought of as a brain disorder. Insufficient availability of the neurotransmitter, dopamine, contributes to the illness.

Dopamine is needed to sustain concentration. Too little and the mind focuses on whatever is most exciting or interesting. Attention ceaselessly jumps from here to there. Distraction becomes a way of life. Important details are overlooked, appointments missed, and projects, almost done, remain unfinished.

Dopamine likewise governs impulses. Too little and one acts without thinking. Fidgeting and talking fast are common. Conversations may be interrupted, leaving friends and colleagues irritated. Emotions themselves may be harder to regulate.

Constant efforts to manage these symptoms can cause anxiety and worry. Over time, ADHD can lead to poor performance, loss of self-esteem, and even depression.

Diagnosis is based on a careful history of current and past symptoms by a skilled psychiatrist or psychologist. A brief screening test is available to determine if a consultation may be indicated.