Adult ADHD, or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder in adults, is a neurodevelopmental condition marked by persistent challenges in focus, impulsivity and hyperactivity. While ADHD is more often associated with children, it is important to understand that this condition can extend into adulthood, with its manifestations often evolving and becoming subtler but no less impactful. The multifaceted nature of adult ADHD means that no two individuals’ experiences are identical, making diagnosis and management more complex.
At UKAT London Clinic, we understand the intricacies of the condition and underscore the importance of personalised ADHD treatment and tailored interventions to address its challenges.
Understanding adult ADHD
In adults, ADHD is a nuanced condition that can significantly influence various aspects of daily life, from work to relationships to self-esteem. Adult ADHD is usually characterised by the same consistent patterns of inattention and impulsivity that children experience, but they may have outgrown symptoms of hyperactivity or developed coping mechanisms to manage them.
The challenges posed by ADHD in adulthood can also be significantly exacerbated by the demands of adult life, such as job responsibilities, maintaining relationships and managing finances. These pressures can also trigger and exacerbate co-occurring conditions in adults with ADHD, including anxiety, depression and substance use disorders.
Persistent vs symptomatic adult ADHD
The terms “persistent” and “symptomatic” in the context of adult ADHD refer to the presentation and continuation of ADHD symptoms over time but they emphasise different aspects of the disorder.
This term typically refers to ADHD symptoms that have continued from childhood into adulthood. While some children outgrow their symptoms or develop coping mechanisms that mask the more overt signs of the disorder, for others, the symptoms persist into their adult years. “Persistent ADHD” is used for individuals whose symptoms have remained consistent.
This term emphasises the presence and manifestation of ADHD symptoms and refers to an adult who displays observable signs of the disorder. Even if the person had a period where the symptoms were dormant or less noticeable (perhaps due to developed coping mechanisms or life circumstances), “symptomatic” implies that they are currently experiencing and exhibiting these symptoms.
It is estimated that approximately 2.58% of adults globally have persistent adult ADHD, while 6.76% have symptomatic adult ADHD. However, as many cases go undiagnosed, the actual numbers may be higher.
What causes ADHD in adults?
Though the exact cause of ADHD is not fully understood, a combination of factors is believed to contribute to its development. These include:
- Genetic factors: Research indicates that ADHD tends to run in families. If a parent or sibling has ADHD, another family member is more likely to have it.
- Neurological considerations: Differences in brain structure, particularly in attention and impulse control areas, have been observed in those with ADHD.
- Environmental factors: Exposure to certain environmental agents, such as lead during young childhood, can potentially influence the development of ADHD symptoms.
- Prenatal influences: Factors like maternal drug or alcohol use, infections during pregnancy or premature birth may also increase the risk of developing ADHD.
Diagnosing adult ADHD
Adult ADHD diagnosis requires a formal medical assessment to ensure that an effective ADHD treatment plan can be established. This ADHD assessment provides a comprehensive understanding of the individual’s challenges, considering both current symptoms and childhood experiences and distinguishes ADHD from other conditions with similar symptoms.
An adult ADHD test typically involves a combination of self-reported symptoms, clinical observations and sometimes input from close family or friends who can provide insights into the individual’s behaviour. It may also delve into childhood behaviours to determine if ADHD symptoms were present before age 12, a critical criterion for an ADHD diagnosis. This evaluation provides a holistic picture, allowing healthcare professionals to craft a tailored treatment plan for the individual’s unique needs.
Common adult ADHD symptoms:
Recognising the symptoms is the first step towards seeking help and establishing a path towards better management and improved quality of life. Some common ADHD symptoms in adults include:
- Difficulty in sustaining attention: Struggling to complete tasks, frequently hopping from one activity to another or becoming easily distracted by extraneous stimuli.
- Forgetfulness: Regularly forgetting appointments, misplacing items or failing to complete tasks.
- Impulsivity: Making hasty decisions without considering the consequences, spending money recklessly or frequently interrupting others in conversation.
- Restlessness: Feeling internally restless or constantly “on the go”, even if not displaying overt hyperactivity.
- Difficulty in time management: Struggling to estimate how long a task will take, frequently being late or failing to prioritise tasks efficiently.
- Organisational challenges: Difficulty structuring tasks, maintaining tidy living or workspaces, or frequently feeling overwhelmed by tasks.
Effective adult ADHD treatment
At UKAT London Clinic, we recognise that addressing the challenges of Adult ADHD necessitates a multifaceted approach. Each person’s experience with the disorder is unique, and so our treatment programmes are tailored to the individual’s specific needs, co-occurring conditions and life circumstances. Following a comprehensive ADHD assessment, there are several modalities of treatment available, including:
At UKAT London Clinic, we understand that the needs of individuals with adult ADHD may change, requiring modifications in their treatment approach. Our ADHD experts provide constant progress analysis and evaluation to ensure our clients’ programmes are updated to reflect these changes.
A pathway to recovery
Embarking on the journey of managing Adult ADHD can feel overwhelming, but it’s essential to remember that every step forward is a major one. If you or a loved one is navigating the intricacies of Adult ADHD, let UKAT London Clinic be your partner in this journey. Offering thorough adult ADHD assessments and individualised treatment plans, our team is dedicated to helping you understand, manage and overcome ADHD. Take the initiative today for a brighter, more focused tomorrow. Call us today to find out more.
Frequently asked questions
(Click here to see works cited)
- McCoy, Kathleen. “Prevalence and Clinical Correlates of Co-Occurring Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder in.” Harvard DASH, 14 September 2020, https://dash.harvard.edu/bitstream/handle/1/37365086/MCCOY-DOCUMENT-2019.pdf?sequence=1. Accessed 12 October 2023.
- Song, Peige, et al. “The prevalence of adult attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder: A global systematic review and meta-analysis.” NCBI, 11 February 2021, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7916320/. Accessed 12 October 2023.