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Adult ADHD: FAQs

adhdAttention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a condition characterized by inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsiveness.1 It is a widely recognized childhood disorder; however, symptoms persist into adulthood for approximately 60 percent of children who are diagnosed.1 Therefore, approximately four percent, or eight million adults, have ADHD.1 Here are some answers to a few frequently asked questions, regarding adult ADHD:

  1. Is ADHD a real disorder? ADHD is certainly a real disorder, with over thirty years of research supporting its diagnosis in both children and adults.[1] No longer does a legitimate debate exists over whether or not ADHD really exists—hundreds of researchers around the world agree that it does.1
  2. Can an adult have an attention deficit disorder and not be hyperactive? Yes, certainly. The diagnosis is called ADHD: Predominantly Inattentive (ADHD-PI).1 Adults who have this presentation of ADHD will often daydream and have a difficult time focusing.1 Individuals with ADHD-PI typically have few to no typical symptoms of hyperactivity or impulsiveness.1
  3. How does ADHD affect an adult’s professional life? Typically, adults with ADHD exhibit lower job performance and social problems.1 In fact, they have a greater chance of changing jobs more frequently.1 Their desks, offices, briefcases, etc. are often disorganized, and they may have a difficult time keeping to deadlines.1
  4. Is there a specific test to diagnose ADHD? Unfortunately, there is no one test that can diagnose the disorder.1 A mental health professional must conduct a comprehensive assessment to determine whether or not the individual does have the disorder.1
  5. Where should I go to have a diagnostic evaluation completed? Depending upon your community and your insurance plan, or lack thereof, there are many places that you could have an evaluation completed.1 However, if you have the option, having a skilled psychiatrist evaluate your symptoms is best.1 As psychiatrists specialize in the brain and its disorders, they are best suited to give an accurate diagnosis. However, other mental health professionals often provide diagnostic evaluations, if this option is not available.1
  6. Are the medicines recommended to treat ADHD safe? Researchers have thoroughly studied psychostimulant medicines, and their few long-term side-effects have been identified.1 When problems do occur, they are often mild and short-term.1 The most common side-effects one may experience are loss of appetite and insomnia.1 These side-effects can be addressed through changing dosages or switching to a slow-release formulation.1
  7. How effective are medicine-free treatments? Non-medicine treatments of adult ADHD have be proven to be effective—sometimes as effective as medicine.1 Psychotherapy is a great treatment option to take advantage of. Therapists that specialize in psychotherapy for adults with ADHD have many techniques to share with patients who suffer from the disorder.1


[1] Grohol, J. (2014). Frequently Asked Questions about Adult ADHD. Psych Central. Retrieved on February 20, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/lib/frequently-asked-questions-about-adult-adhd/00018886

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