Yes, it is real. Unfortunately, some people pretend to have the disorder so they can score some drugs. Don’t let this prevent you from getting treatment. Fight the stigma; because like children, adults who suspect they have ADHD should be evaluated by a licensed mental health professional. Just beware, that the professional may need to consider a wider range of symptoms when assessing adults for ADHD. Why? Because their symptoms tend to be more varied and possibly not as clear-cut as symptoms seen in children.
From Childhood to Adulthood
Two thirds of children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are likely to grow up to be adults that continue to have the condition. As a result, an estimated four percent of adults end up with ADHD.
If you were that hyperactive kid, you may find yourself calmer as a grown-up, but perhaps still working on problems with organization and impulsivity. You may want to explore medication options with your doctor to keep ADHD from impinging on your work.
Choices and Mechanisms
Adults with ADHD can take stimulant or nonstimulant medication. Both types of medication work by blocking certain chemicals in the brain. For example, scientists believe that stimulants work by blocking the reuptake in the neurons of norepinephrine, a stress hormone, and dopamine, a chemical messenger.
In simpler terms, stimulants rev up people who don’t have attention deficits. But they have a calming effect on people with ADHD.
The Most Common Choice
Stimulants such as methylphenidate tend to work well for three out of four patients, according to a study at Massachusetts General Hospital led by Thomas J. Spencer. They are considered the first-line choice for treating ADHD.
Methylphenidate is sold under the brand names of Ritalin, Concerta, Metadate, and Daytrana. Doctors also can prescribe amphetamine compounds, which increase dopamine. This allows you to increase your focus. Amphetamine compounds include Adderall, Dexedrine, and Vyvanse.
You can also take atomoxetine, which is sold under the brand name Strattera. This drug works to strongly increase levels of norepinephrine. It can be taken long-term if necessary. Atomoxetine, is the first nonstimulant drug approved for adult ADHD; it may lead to hepatitis or liver injury in rare cases. Talk to your doctor immediately if you notice any yellowing of your skin or eyes. These are telltale signs of jaundice. Still, atomoxetine provides a valuable option if you can’t take stimulants and need a medication that allows once-a-day dosing.
The FDA doesn’t officially approve them for adult ADHD, but antidepressants can help if you have a complex case. If you have ADHD and depression, bipolar disorder, or addiction to nicotine, bupropion may be able to help. Known by the brand name Wellbutrin, buproprion affects the brain chemical dopamine.
Tricyclic antidepressants also can work by increasing norepinephrine. Your doctor may prescribe a tricyclic if you have tics, anxiety, or depressive symptoms. These drugs often interact
with diabetes or high-blood pressure medications.
Guanfacine and Clonidine
Guanfacine is sold under the brand name Tenex or Intuniv. Clonidine is sold as Catapres. Both take several weeks to work and come from sources used to fight high blood pressure. These medications work well for certain cases of ADHD in children and adults.
Clonidine may reduce impulsivity and hyperactivity, but not inattention. It may help particularly if you have Tourette’s syndrome or tics. Guanfacine has less of a sedating effect than clonidine. It lasts longer, and helps you focus better.
Managing Your Life
Medication provides just half the treatment picture for the adult with ADHD. You can also initiate calm and focus by setting up your environment effectively. Install a large bulletin board to organize your schedule and contacts. Designate specific spots to store your keys, wallet, and other items.
Cognitive behavioral therapy may help you take additional steps in mastering organizational, study, and social skills. A therapist can help you work on time management and ways to curb impulsive behavior.
This might sound strange but this disorder can really upset the household. Sometimes, the whole family may need therapy. Therapists can help family members find better ways to handle disruptive behaviors and to encourage behavior changes. Finally, support groups help families connect with others who have similar problems and concerns. Groups often meet regularly to share frustrations and successes, to exchange information about recommended specialists and strategies, and to talk with experts.
One Last Thing
If you think you might suffer from ADHD click here to access this test. The Symptom Checklist is an instrument consisting of the eighteen DSM-IV-TR criteria. Six of the eighteen questions were found to be the most predictive of symptoms consistent with ADHD. (These six questions are the basis for the ASRS v1.1 Screener and are also Part A of the Symptom Checklist. Part B of the Symptom Checklist contains the remaining twelve questions.)