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Adult ADHD and Major Functional Impairments

Millions of adults in the U.S. remain undiagnosed and thus untreated for adult ADHD. The estimated number of adults with ADHD, aged 18 to 44, range from 4.4% to 5.2% of the nation’s population, with only 10%-12% of those numbers receiving any kind of treatment at all. Adults who remain undiagnosed face the potential consequences of major functional impairments in education, work performance, or family and community life.

Adult ADHD Symptoms of Impairment

For an accurate diagnosis the symptoms of ADHD subtypes of inattention, hyperactivity impulsivity, or combined, must cause some type of impairment in two or more areas with clear evidence of significant impairment in social, academic or occupational functioning. Receiving a proper diagnosis from a qualified psychiatrist is critical as part of the diagnosis of adult ADHD follows a comprehensive evaluation to determine that the symptoms noted above are not due to another mental disorder.

Symptoms of Inattention

As part of the assessment for adult ADHD, at least six of the following inattention symptoms needs to persist for at least six months of time, with reported functional impairment involved:

  • Forgetfulness in daily activities
  • Easily distracted by extraneous stimuli
  • Difficulty with organizing tasks and activities
  • Difficulty sustaining attention on tasks or during an activity
  • Fails to pay close attention to details or makes careless mistakes
  • Does not appear to listen when spoken to directly
  • Frequently loses necessary items for work, tasks, or activities
  • Often avoids or reports dislike for tasks that require mental effort
  • Fails to follow through on instructions or direction, failing to finish work or duties

Symptoms of Hyperactivity – Impulsivity

Of the following symptoms, at least six must be present and have persisted for at least six months’ time. As with the symptoms for inattention, functional life impairment must also be seen.

  • Fidgeting with hands or feet; squirms around in seat
  • Excessive talking
  • Appears “on the go” or acts as if “driven by a motor”
  • May run or jump about during inappropriate times, or reports feelings of restlessness
  • Impulsive behaviors
  • Difficulty waiting your turn
  • Difficulty engaging in quiet leisure time activities
  • May blurt out answers
  • May abruptly interrupt others with opinions, or butt into other’s conversations
  • Often getting up from seat when situation dictates remaining seated

Adult ADHD Psychiatrist for Comprehensive Diagnosis

It is time to discover if your functional impairments and life difficulty are from undiagnosed adult ADHD. Call Dr. Hege for a comprehensive evaluation and receive an accurate diagnosis and individualized treatment plan.

Hormonal Changes Affect Women’s ADHD Symptoms

For women living with ADHD it is an ongoing challenge, not only through the monthly hormonal changes, but through the various life stages as well. With fluctuating hormone levels, ADHD symptoms can be exacerbated, mood swings or depression can occur, or the effect ADHD medication normally has can become ineffective.

Hormonal Changes a Life-Long ADHD Challenge

Finding the right knowledgeable psychiatrist is a choice that can impact you for a life-time. With the average age for initial diagnosis of women with ADHD at 36 to 38 years of age, it is critical for a treatment plan to take into account the hormonal changes that will be occurring over the next 20 to 30 years.

Estrogen and ADHD

For a woman with ADHD it is important to work with a mental health professional who is aware of the interaction between ADHD symptoms and estrogen levels. Looking at a woman’s monthly menstrual cycle, estrogen is at higher levels during the first two weeks and progesterone is higher during the last two weeks.

Estrogen may help ADHD medications work while progesterone may interfere with the effectiveness of those same medications. Due to the changing estrogen levels, the beginning two weeks of the menstrual cycle typically present with less complaints of bothersome symptoms. When the level of estrogen drops and progesterone increases during the last two weeks of the monthly cycle, increased complaints of exasperated symptoms and non-effective medication are often voiced.

Perimenopause and ADHD

Approximately 10 years before the onset of menopause a woman will go through perimenopause. During this extended time period of hormonal changes, the estrogen produced in the body slowly decreases until at the onset of menopause it has decreased by about 65%.

Perimenopause Symptoms Mimic & Worsen ADHD

The following list of symptoms experienced during perimenopause mimic those of ADHD as well as making any original symptoms of ADHD worse. It is thought that many women are diagnosed with ADHD around the time of these life-changes when the symptoms of ADHD combined with the symptoms of perimenopause, and then menopause, send them looking for help.

  • Mood swings
  • Irritability
  • Memory lapses
  • Forgetfulness
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty with mental clarity
  • Trouble with word recall or retrieval
  • Difficulty sleeping

Hormonal Changes Continue into Menopause

The depression and cognitive deficits that occur with decreasing levels of estrogen as a woman enters menopause often bring a woman with ADHD to have difficulty with coping with daily life situations. Many women, beginning in their late 30s, often seek help for the first time when hormonal changes combine with ADHD symptoms. Others who have already been diagnosed with ADHD often find themselves with worsening symptoms that become overwhelming.

ADHD Treatment during Hormonal Changes

If you feel life changes are making you feel out of control and unable to cope with even normal daily routines, you may have undiagnosed ADHD. Help is available. For new diagnoses or for treatment adjustments during the years of hormonal changes, call Dr. Hege and regain control over your life once again.