Undiagnosed Adult Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)

Many people understand right away when they hear you have ADHD or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder as the hyperactivity and impulsive components are easily recognized and accepted as part of ADHD. Having ADD however is less likely to be understood – when you take away the hyperactivity or impulsive behaviors what do you have left?

Adult ADD Primary Symptom

With adult ADD the primary symptom is a persistent pattern of inattention that interferes with normal daily life functioning. With ADD the components of hyperactivity or impulsive behaviors are not present. The symptoms of ADD typically are found interfering in two or more areas of a person’s life, such as at home, work, school, or in social situations.

Questions to Ask Yourself About ADD

If you find you are answering yes to the following questions it may be time to pick up the phone and make the call for a confidential evaluation with a qualified mental health professional experienced in treating adults with attention deficit disorder. You may not have ADD; however, if you do answer yes to several of the following questions it could indicate a need for professional help to change what is interfering with living life to the fullest.

Do you:

  • Have difficulty keeping your attention on either a work task or fun activity?
  • Have trouble remaining focused during conversations, while reading or listening to others?
  • Find you are easily distracted by something in your environment or by unrelated thoughts?
  • Avoid taking part in tasks that require sustained mental effort or thought?
  • Find that your mind wanders off to somewhere else while listening to someone, even when they are speaking directly to you?
  • Find that you miss project deadlines, pay bills late, have trouble managing your time, or have difficulty organizing daily activities or tasks?
  • Make careless mistakes because you fail to pay good attention to details?
  • Often lose or misplace something that needed like your glasses, phone, wallet, keys, etc.?
  • Find yourself sidetracked, losing focus and fail to finish chores or duties?
  • Have trouble waiting your turn (in line, to talk, etc.)?

Find Help from a Psychiatrist

These are just a few of the more common symptoms of adult ADD. If you have any concerns about your mental health, behaviors, or if your symptoms are interfering with living and going about with your daily life, make the call.

What Causes ADHD

What Causes ADHD

ADHD and bipolar disorder are the two most heritable psychiatric conditions. Twin, family, and adoption studies of ADHD finds that the main cause of ADHD is genetic contribution in 60 to 90% of patients. 25% of first-degree relatives of someone who has ADHD will have ADHD also. A first-degree relative is a parent, sibling, or child. Genes involved in regulating neurotransmitters in the brain have been implicated by studies. It appears that there are multiple gene differences in patients with ADHD.
Environmental factors appear to play an important role in development of ADHD. Children who were exposed prenatally to alcohol have an increased risk of ADHD and other psychiatric disorders. Maternal smoking causes a 2.7 fold increased risk for ADHD. Perinatal factors such as very low birth weight children and birth complications in mothers increase the probability of the child having ADHD.
Child ADHD vs Adult ADHD
Adult ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) affects 4.4 % of adults. Hallmark adult ADHD symptoms are inattention, distractibility, and impulsivity. If you have adult ADHD, the symptoms were present in childhood but may not have become a prominent problem until adulthood. As adults, we accumulate an increasing burden of responsibilities. These responsibilities include marriage, family, job, and finances. Our brain's ability to filter and prioritize the multitude of demands placed upon it may be overwhelmed. Expectations of us as mature, responsible adults include modulating our anger and fears, listening to and hearing our spouses and bosses explicit and implied instructions, and to be able to focus and concentrate to read required reports and instructions. If we have the drag of ADHD present, we may become "stressed out", depressed, overly anxious, or turn to alcohol, drug, or medication abuse. If the patient presents for help at this point, the overlying problem of depression, anxiety, or substance abuse may be diagnosed and treated. However, the foundational problem of ADHD may be missed. Unless the ADHD is successfully treated, the person may improve temporarily but still struggle unnecessarily and be more prone to relapsing to another bout of depression, anxiety, or substance abuse.
ADD versus ADHD
The "ADD" in Adult ADHD symptoms refers to the predominantly inattentive subtype cluster of symptoms. The "ADHD" refers to the condition that includes the hyperactivity-impulsive symptoms in addition to the inattentive symptoms. The particular symptoms of the predominantly inattentive subtype and the symptoms of the hyperactivity-impulsive subtype are described in the next section under "What are the signs and symptoms of ADHD". Females have predominantly inattentive symptoms without the hyperactivity symptoms more often than males. When the hyperactivity symptoms are present, the person with the symptoms is more often identified earlier in life as having a problem. Hence, boys are more often diagnosed and treated than girls.