How to Diagnose ADHD in Adults
How to Diagnose ADHD in Adults
Table of Contents
What is ADHD?
What Causes ADHD?
- Alcohol and tobacco use during pregnancy
- Brain injury
- Exposure to lead at a young age or other environmental factors
- Low birth weight
- Premature delivery 2
ADD vs. ADHD
Attention deficit disorder (ADD) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are similar disorders, but they do have some differences. ADD is a type of ADHD that does not involve constant movement and fidgeting. People who struggle with ADD are often seen as daydreamers. Unlike ADHD, those who struggle with ADD may seem shy or like they are in their own world. Due to the symptoms of ADD being more internal, those who struggle with this disorder can often go undiagnosed.3
Statistics on ADHD
ADHD in Children
According to the CDC, a national 2016 parent survey found that 6.1 million children, or 9.4%, have been diagnosed with ADHD.
- Over twice as many boys are diagnosed with ADHD compared to girls (12.9% compared to 5.6%).
- About 30% of children who have ADHD are also diagnosed with anxiety.
- 62% of children diagnosed with ADHD take ADHD medication.
- Approximately 47% of children diagnosed with this disorder received behavioral treatment to work on their ADHD symptoms.4
ADHD in Adults
If you or a loved one are displaying signs of ADHD or adult ADHD, seek the opinion of a medical professional. There are multiple ways that a doctor might do an ADHD test.
What Can an ADHD Test Do for You?
While adults are less commonly diagnosed with ADHD, adult ADHD diagnosis rates are rising. In recent years, adult ADHD diagnosis rates have been rising by an average of 123% each year. However, despite this sharp increase in diagnosis rates, adult ADHD is still underdiagnosed. It is estimated that fewer than 20% of all adults with ADHD are currently diagnosed or receiving treatment. Adult ADHD also coincides with other disorders. Roughly half of all adults with ADHD also struggle with anxiety. Those who struggle with ADHD are also 1.5 times more likely to develop a substance use disorder. These statistics show why it is so critical for adults with ADHD to get a medical diagnosis and receive proper treatment and support.5
Types of ADHD
There are different types of ADHD including:
Inattentive ADHD is also known as ADD. This type of ADHD is more internal and can often be mistaken as anxiety or a mood disorder in adults. Inattentive ADHD is often characterized by daydreaming, trouble focusing, and forgetfulness.
What are the Symptoms of ADHD?
Inattentive ADHD Symptoms
Common inattentive ADHD symptoms are:
- Appearing distracted when being spoken to
- Daydreaming or zoning out frequently
- Difficulty concentrating
- Being easily distracted by external stimuli
- Leaving projects unfinished
- Losing things easily
- Problems staying organized
- Trouble following organized instructions
All of these symptoms can negatively impact adults who struggle with inattentive ADHD. However, there are treatment options available.
Hyperactive-Impulsive ADHD Symptoms
- Blurting out comments at inappropriate times
- Fidgeting or squirming
- Interrupting conversations
- Nonstop talking
- Lacking patience
- Trouble sitting still or completing quiet tasks
- Trouble waiting inline
Combination Type Symptoms
- Appearing to not listen when spoken to
- Becoming confused easily
- Being easily distracted
- Difficulty completing assignments or tasks
- Difficulty following instructions
- Easily forgetting things or events
The Connection Between ADHD and Addiction
What Drugs Do People with ADHD Typically Abuse?
People with ADHD may abuse several different drugs. One of the most commonly abused drugs by those with ADHD is prescription stimulants like Adderall, Ritalin, or Vyvanse which are prescribed for the treatment of ADHD symptoms. While these drugs do work for the treatment of ADHD, they are highly addictive, especially when misused or abused. When someone is prescribed ADHD medication, they must only take the amount that is prescribed by a medical professional.
Alcohol is also commonly abused by those with ADHD. Alcohol abuse rates among those struggling with ADHD are approximately 25%. This factor shows a strong correlation between the abuse of alcohol and
other substances when someone struggles with ADHD.7
What Causes Addiction?
Symptoms of ADHD can make someone more likely to abuse addictive substances. Those who struggle with ADHD will have reduced impulse control, which can lead to a person being more likely to abuse drugs in a binge-like pattern. Behavioral issues that lead to addiction are also common in those who struggle with ADHD. This disorder can lead to someone being more susceptible to developing an addiction. Lastly, those who struggle with ADHD may try to use recreational drugs as a form of self-medication to deal with their symptoms. Over time, self-medication can lead to developing a dependence on the drug.
Treatment for ADHD and Addiction
Detox for Dual Diagnosis SUD and ADHD
Brain Mapping for ADHD
What is Brain Mapping?
Brain mapping is a type of neurofeedback treatment that helps evaluate brainwaves and identify ways to improve communication between various regions of the brain. During a brain mapping session, a cap is placed on the scalp, and software is used to capture electrical impulses in the brain. This treatment usually takes about 15 minutes and then the data is converted into a brain map report.8
Types of Brain Scans
Brain Mapping for ADHD