Mental Health: What is Adult ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder)?

Signs, Symptoms and Treatment

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What is Adult ADD?

Adult Attention Deficit Disorder is your childhood A. D. D., all grown up.

For some people, the symptoms of ADD lessen in adulthood.
For others, it’s just as problematic as it ever was.

Attention Deficit Disorder, also known as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), is divided into three types: 

  1. Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive Type (hyperactive), 
  2. Predominantly Inattentive Type (hypoactive), and 
  3. Combined Type (characteristics of both).

Mental Health: What is Adult ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder)?
Hyperactive-Impulsive Type is what we normally associate with childhood ADD: restlessness and excessive energy that results in fidgeting, excessive talking, impatience, difficulty controlling anger, and blurting things out at inappropriate times. 

As an adult, this is the person who is always jiggling his foot while sitting, and can only listen to you for about 6 seconds because his mind is racing ahead to other things.

Inattentive Type is the “airhead” who’s always daydreaming, constantly forgets and misplaces things, doesn’t follow instructions, can’t finish tasks, and seems completely disorganized. 

This is the type of ADD that causes the greatest misery to adults, especially in the workplace, where a good memory and organizational skills are imperative.

ADD is similar to depression in that there is a low level of the neurotransmitter dopamine. 

This affects functioning in the prefrontal cortex of the brain. 

ADD runs in families, so if you have it, take a look at your extended family; chances are, you’re not the only one.

Regardless of what well-meaning, but uneducated people might believe, true Adult ADD is not a “made-up” disease that lazy people use to rationalize their behavior. 

For many adults with ADD, life is chaotic and unmanageable. 

They feel like failures, and are often judged and blamed for their problems by annoyed co-workers and family members.

How can it be treated?
You must take a special test to be diagnosed with ADD. 
You should find a psychiatrist who specializes in Adult ADD. 
He or she will give you several questionnaires to fill out, and diagnose you according to the results. 

Or, you may take a computerized test called T.O.V.A.(R) (Test of Variabilities of Attention).
ADD can be treated with stimulants and/or anti-depressant medications, and through coaching for behavior modification.

You can also get help through the Americans With Disabilities Act. 
Because ADD is recognized as a disability, your employer must make reasonable accommodations in the workplace to help you perform more efficiently.

Why wasn’t I diagnosed with ADD as a child?

It’s hard to say. When you were a child, you were dependent upon the adults in your life to recognize and resolve any problems you may have had. 

If your pediatrician or teacher didn’t recognize your ADD, you probably were characterized as a “problem kid” who intentionally misbehaved. 

Also, there is a bias that goes with ADD. 
Boys are diagnosed with it more often, because parents focus on hyperactivity. 
Therefore, inattentive types (usually girls) often go unnoticed.

Is there a link between ADD and chemical dependency?
People with neurological disorders or mental illness often “self-medicate” with alcohol or other drugs. 

If you walk into an A.A. meeting, you’ll find plenty of schizophrenics, manic-depressives, and people who suspect they have ADD.

We, as a society, often harshly judge people who are just trying to alleviate the symptoms of an undiagnosed disease. 

Many alcoholics drink to combat anxiety. 

A person with ADD will find that cocaine does not make him “high”; rather, it gives him tremendous mental clarity and enhances memory.

Is there a link between ADD and overeating?

Overeating is just another way of self-medicating.
It is a compulsive behavior a person engages in to relieve anxiety. 
For some, the food is a means of stimulation. 

You’ll find many people with ADD are caffeine and sugar junkies. 
They get a stimulating effect from increased heart rate and blood sugar. 
Of course, the effects are short-lived, and can only be regained by consuming more caffeine and sugar. 

It’s important to point out that ingesting large amounts of sugar and caffeine do not cause ADD, as was once thought.



The information contained in or made available through This Site cannot replace or substitute for the services of trained professionals in the medical field. We do not recommend any treatment, drug, food or supplement. You should regularly consult a doctor in all matters relating to physical or mental health, particularly concerning any symptoms that may require diagnosis or medical attention.

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