Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Understanding ADHD in Adults

ADHD reached the height of attention of medical professionals in the 1980's. Chldren who were underperforming and overactive were targetted for treatment with drugs, therapy and special education. (Many were incorrectly labeled).

But what happened to the many adults who suffered from ADHD decades before but were not diagnosed?  These unfortunate sufferers of ADHD struggled through school and subsequently the workplace knowing that they were different, but never really knowing why.

What is adult ADHD, and how is it being diagnosed and treated today?  This article wll examine some facts related to this disorder.  Many adults that have behavioral and focus problems have been undiagnosed and therefore untreated.  Sadly, they have suffered silently as a result of their undiagnosed disorder. 

What is ADHD?

ADHD (attention disorder hyperactivity) is characterized by inattention, hyperactivity and impulsiveness in children.  These same symptoms continue into adulthood in about 60% of children with this disorder. In adulthood, the manifestation of these problems can be more subtle, such as in chronic lateness or difficulty in completing tasks.

The problem is felt to originate wth neural coordination failure causing too much competion from incoming stimuli.  This causes sensory overload, causing inability to focus on specific stimuli or the task at hand, such as reading or test taking.  This can result in poor performannce, frustration and anxiety

ADHD in Adults

Sadly, many adults have gone through school undiagnosed, struggling to complete high school and being labeled as "slow" or having "behavioral problems."  Today, with more understanding of the disability, such symptoms as: poor academic performance, dropping out of school, behavior problems, anti-social behavior, illegal drug use, smoking and low self esteem have been  recognized as being the result of ADHD. Treatment can now be focused and now help can be provided for sufferers of ADHD.

In the workplace, the manifestation of ADHD in adults can be as varied and distressing as in school  Many individuals  with the disorder are plagued by poor behavior and performance on the job.The symptoms are indeed causes for stress on the job which undoubtedly causes anxiety and self-doubt.  They include:

difficulty following directions
memory and concentration problems
poor organization and task completion skills.
low self esteem
chronic lateness
difficulty controlling anger
substance abuse

The combination of one or more of these behaviors could result in the termination of employment which adds to the frustration and depression of ADHD sufferer.  Of course, these behaviors may vary in severity depending uon the  degree of diability.

How is this disorder diagnosed in adults?

There are a combination of tests that are employed to diagnose this disorder.  Usually, labwork, physical examination,  history and physical, neruological evalutions will take place to rule out other neurological disorders.  Also included is a review of school report cards and educator comments regarding behavior. Family history is also investigated as there is a strong link within the family for ADHD.

How is ADHD treated in adults?

During the 1980's, the AMA became interested in how food and vitamins affect behavior.  It was determined that food is highly influential on human behavior and brain.  It was further discovered that 75% of children with ADHD had food allergies and low blood sugar which would account for behavior disturbance.  So, it would be wise to conclude that adults would be similarly affected.

The list of foods includes some commonly known allergen such as:

color additives:(red, yellow and blue)
Food additives and chemicals

The list could possibly grow when you consider individual allergies and sensitivities. It is absolutely imperative to eliminate possible offending foods for improvement in symptoms.

Dietary deficiencies also could account for problems related to this disorder.  The B vitamin complex is important in brain fundction and development as well as optimal function of brain cells. Foods such as brown rice, wheat and grains should be abundant in the diet.

The conventional medical route for treatment consists of medication with  drugs such as Ritalin and Adderall and many others.  Cognitive and behavioral therapy and support are given. Relaxation, activity changes, boosting self esteen and exercises are all part of treatment.

The next article will examine some holistic approaches to management.



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