Adult-onset ADHD, in general, is not so easy to diagnose. In fact, it’s not even all that simple to define especially for those who don’t have the appropriate medical background. So the movies, journalists, parents, and average people in the streets don’t understand this condition.
To have a meaningful dialogue, everyone should have the basic facts first. Here are some facts that you should keep in mind about ADHD, and about adult-onset ADHD in particular.
- ADHD is the acronym that refers to attention-deficit hyperactive disorder. This is a neurodevelopmental disorder that is generally found in children, but can be diagnosed in adults too. The symptoms include:
- Difficulty staying still
- Mostly unable to stay organized
- Problems with focus or concentration
- Forgetting to finish tasks
- Adult-onset ADHD is a type of ADHD in which the symptoms present only when the patient is already an adult. This means that when they were children, these patients did not show any symptoms of ADHD.
- However, the latest research suggests that adult-onset ADHD doesn’t really exist, although there’s always the possibility of trauma or head injury that can result in this condition. According to the study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry in 2017, most people who were diagnosed with adult-onset ADHD had the wrong diagnosis. They just have ADHD, except that their problems were overlooked when they were children.
- The symptoms of ADHD present in these patients can be the result of other conditions. This can be depression, drug use, or another psychological trauma. For example, regular use of marijuana can result in the traditional symptoms of ADHD.
- The problem with ADHD diagnoses with adults is that they’re asked if they have the symptoms of the condition. The problem is that they may just say “yes” to questions about forgetfulness, restlessness, and lack of concentration and organization even when they don’t actually have the symptoms. That’s the main issue regarding self-reported symptoms.
- The fact that these supposed patients with adult-onset ADHD are actually regular ADHD again emphasizes how difficult it is to diagnose the problem in children. The problem is that if they can’t stay still, can’t stay organized, can’t focus, and can’t finish problems—these are also quite typical children’s behaviour. That’s why some children diagnosed with ADHD may sometimes seem to “outgrow” the condition. They may not have had ADHD in the first place.
All these facts highlight how difficult it can be to diagnose this condition. ADHD is a recognized medical condition, but many parents are frightened that their children may be medicated when they don’t have the problem in the first place.
On the other hand, about 23% of the children in the US who have been diagnosed with ADHD aren’t receiving mental health counselling or medication that can alleviate the condition.
The debate over ADHD continues on, but it’s helpful if everyone has the same facts to work with.