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Adult ADHD: Prevalence, Symptoms, Types, and Treatment

Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, commonly known as ADHD, is a neurodevelopmental disorder that is characterised by a persistent pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity that interferes with daily functioning. It is a complex disorder that impacts the brain's executive functioning, including working memory, planning, organisation, and self-control. Individuals with ADHD may struggle with paying attention, completing tasks, managing time, and controlling impulsive behaviors. In this article, we will dive deeper into what ADHD is, how it can affect adults, and what can be done to manage it.


Prevalence

ADHD affects approximately 2.5% of adults, although many studies suggest its prevalence may be higher, as many individuals go undiagnosed or untreated. Women with ADHD may be particularly vulnerable to underdiagnosis or misdiagnosis, as their symptoms can present differently than in men, and may be mistaken for other mental health conditions.


Symptoms

ADHD symptoms can be categorised into two main types: inattention and hyperactivity-impulsivity. Symptoms can manifest differently in adults compared to children, and even between individuals. Common symptoms of ADHD in adults include:


Inattention symptoms include:

  • Difficulty paying attention to details

  • Difficulty staying focused on tasks or activities

  • Forgetfulness

  • Disorganisation

  • Poor time management

  • Avoidance of tasks that require sustained mental effort

  • Losing things frequently

Hyperactivity-impulsivity symptoms include:

  • Fidgeting or restlessness

  • Difficulty staying seated in appropriate situations

  • Constantly being on the go

  • Difficulty playing or engaging in leisure activities quietly

  • Talking excessively

  • Interrupting others frequently

  • Impulsive decision-making

It's important to note that having some of these symptoms does not necessarily mean someone has ADHD. A diagnosis should only be made by a mental health professional after a thorough assessment. Further information about the assessment process for adult ADHD can be found here.


Types

There are three types of ADHD:

  • Predominantly inattentive presentation: Characterised by the symptoms of inattention above, individuals with this type of ADHD may have difficulty focusing, staying on task, and completing activities.

  • Predominantly hyperactive-impulsive presentation: Characterised by the symptoms of hyperactivity-impulsivity above, individuals with this type of ADHD may have trouble sitting still, speaking without thinking, and waiting their turn.

  • Combined presentation: Involves a combination of both inattentive and hyperactive-impulsive symptoms.


Treatment

ADHD is a chronic and debilitating condition, however there is strong evidence for treatments that have been shown to be effective in managing its symptoms. Medications such as stimulants can help improve focus, reduce impulsivity, and manage hyperactivity. Behavioural therapy, such as cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT), psychoeducation, and skills training, can help individuals with ADHD develop coping strategies and improve their executive functioning skills. A combination of medication and behavioural therapy is typically most effective in the management of ADHD symptoms, however, it is important for individuals with ADHD to work with their healthcare providers to develop a personalised treatment plan that addresses their unique needs and challenges.


Further information about Ashley's approach to the treatment of adult ADHD can be found here.


If you have any questions, or would like to know more, please get in touch today.


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