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Understanding ADHD in Adults: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment Options

By Dr. Sharon Witkin |
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Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a condition that affects both children and adults. Recent studies suggest that about one-third of children with ADHD still have it as adults, while 65% still experience significant symptoms. However, some adults with ADHD were not diagnosed during childhood and may remain undiagnosed in adulthood for several reasons.

One reason is that hyperactivity and impulsivity tend to decrease naturally as people grow older, so adults with ADHD are more likely to show symptoms of inattention instead. Additionally, environmental demands during adulthood vary widely, which can make it challenging for people with ADHD to cope. Some jobs may be more ADHD-friendly, while others may require more attention and focus than an educational setting.

The symptoms of ADHD can be hard to identify in adults, as they may have developed coping mechanisms over time. Adults with ADHD may experience restlessness, excessive talking, and a need to use drugs or alcohol to relax. They are also more likely to have mood disorders, health problems, divorce, and poor career outcomes. However, many adults with ADHD can function at high levels with significant effort, although it can cause anxiety or depression.

Diagnosing ADHD in adults is difficult, but there are effective treatment options available. A combination of cognitive behavior therapy and stimulant medication is the most effective treatment for managing adult ADHD. Therapy is especially crucial for newly diagnosed adults who may have experienced emotional distress and interpersonal dysfunction due to untreated ADHD over the years.

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Dr. Sharon Witkin

Before leading Polygon’s clinical practice, Sharon was an assistant clinical professor at UC Berkeley, a researcher at MIT, and served on the clinical leadership team at the Stanford-affiliated Children’s Health Council. Sharon received her PhD from the California School of Professional Psychology and completed her postdoctoral training at Stanford University.

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