Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, known as ADHD, is a brain type that affects between 15-20 million American adults, adolescents and children. It is hard to know exactly how many have this rapid fire thinking pattern called ADHD because many go undiagnosed or are misdiagnosed. ADHD symptoms can vary as can treatment.
If you think ADD and ADHD is something that only affects children, guess again. ADD and ADHD children grow up to become ADD/ADHD adults. Without the skills to effectively manage their behavior, they will have difficulty achieving meaningful lives.
- Males are almost three times more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD than females.
- During their lifetimes, 12.9 percent of men will be diagnosed with the attention disorder. Just 4.9 percent of women will be diagnosed.
- The prevalence of ADHD is difficult to estimate because many people will go undiagnosed and suffer alone. Symptoms can go unrecognized for years. Because of this it’s hard to know true numbers. The assumption is that eight to nine million American adults have ADHD or ADD.
The primary symptoms of ADHD are inattention, impulsiveness, emotionality and sometimes hyperactivity. However, the diagnosis of ADHD is not based on the presence of these symptoms alone.
Most people find themselves being distracted and impulsive, even hyperactive, at some points in their lives. But what distinguishes ADHD from “everyday” inattention, impulsiveness and hyperactivity is the severity, duration and scope of these symptoms. The determination is how they impact an individual’s daily life. Difficulty with memory and forgetfulness, distraction, excessive talking and feelings of being overwhelmed or frustrated are common symptoms. Many also have challenges with procrastination, over-stimulation and negativity.
People with these primary ADHD symptoms often find it challenging to:
- Manage time
- Meet deadlines
- Finish projects
- Understand themselves
- Share and manage feelings
- Relate successfully to others
- Realize their potential
- Remember where they put things
- Arrive punctually
- Listen carefully in group conversation
Secondary ADHD Symptoms
Secondary ADHD symptoms may include depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, boredom, addictions and poor self image. These symptoms are often a result of the stresses and challenges of living with the primary symptoms. Sometimes the secondary symptoms can be so acute that they are inaccurately diagnosed as the primary symptoms. It is not unusual, especially for adults, to receive the ADHD diagnosis after getting a second or third opinion.
People with these secondary symptoms often feel:
- Deeply sad or numb
- Easily overwhelmed
- Alienated or isolated
- Incapable of planning ahead
- Intensely negative about self
- Unable to relax
Since ADHD is a neurological brain type, not a temporary condition, it necessitates a whole-person treatment plan. Most people with ADHD find the best improvement from some combination of coaching, healthy diet, exercise, good sleeping habits and meditation/self-reflection time. A strong support system is also a huge aid. In some cases, medication and/or therapy is helpful.
Most people with ADHD are brilliant innovators and top class problem solvers. With the right assistance from others, professional and nonprofessional, they can lead highly productive, resourceful and meaningful lives. They can draw on self-awareness, educational resources and the love and understanding of those around them to enrich their lives and celebrate their innate potential.