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Adult ADHD Not a Disease,
But a Group of Traits

By Dr. Peter W. Kujtan, B.Sc., M.D., Ph.D.

Article printed on September 11, 2013 issue of
The Mississauga News under the feature: Health & Beauty.
Portrait of Dr. Peter W. Kujtan, supplied 2005
Dr. Peter W. Kujtan

We all probably know of at least one, but have met many. Do you know someone who has trouble fitting it? They speak first without thinking or seem distant, are unable to sit still, take risks and tend to seem disruptive in social situations. They make mistakes for lack of concentration, have little regard for time, seem forgetful, easily distracted and frequently lose things.

These are some of the characteristics that define Adult Attention Deficit-Hyperactivity Disorder (A-ADHD). It is not a disease, but more of a certain group of traits, with presumptive biochemical changes. A-ADHD is a state of being in a cloudy fuzz, and very difficult to diagnose. Various groupings of these characteristics can be further subdivided. As many as 9% of adults may exhibit some form of this disorder.

People with A-ADHD interpret the rules of society in their own special way. They seem oblivious to observations made by others. It becomes difficult to fit into social situations.

Three key features mark the disorder. First is inattention and difficulty concentrating on a mundane task yet hyperfocusing on interesting tasks. Failure to complete tasks produces frustration, seeming forgetfulness.

The second feature is hyperactivity. It implies being on the go with almost inexhaustible energy or continuous feeling of "being on the edge".

The third feature is impulsivity manifested by blurting out statements, or an inability to wait their turn or find a channel worth watching. They interrupt and disrupt without realizing it. In adults, this is seen more as disinhibition or risk-taking behavior, since they tend to realize it a little bit more than do children.

To be considered A-ADHD, the features must cause disruption in more than one sphere of their lives, and be continually present for more than six months. Multiple wrecked marriages and drifting from one job to another are common examples. Many psychiatrists believe that features of the disorder are present in childhood and continue into adulthood. Some adults diagnosed with the features appear to be underachievers, but it really depends on what you use as a measuring stick. Most A-ADHD sufferers have above average intelligence quotients, and can maintain very skilled jobs or be excellent athletes.

The main reason that the disorder is treated is to allow afflicted individuals to better function in society. A-ADHD seems to be genetically associated. If you are diagnosed, there is a much higher chance that a brother or sister also has some features.

One of my favorite theories about the disorder suggests that ADHD is a genetic trait that was favored and naturally selected in "warrior" societies. It would certainly be advantageous to have armies full of energetic, intelligent, quick-moving, uninhibited, risk-taking warriors. It is no secret that modern armies also attract these individuals. To keep such armies in control requires constant discipline, drilling and structure. Interestingly enough, these same concepts help children who exhibit ADHD. Sadly, some adults never accept the diagnosis and rarely recognize that they stand out. Others have discovered that alcohol and street drugs can modify symptoms and may end up addicted by accident. This complicates the ability to make a diagnosis.

To understand this entity, try to see the world from the aspect of the afflicted person. We all have some aspects of the various features. If you have made this far on your first read, you probably do not have A-ADHD. Acceptance is a far better virtue than blind judgment.

Related resources:

Adult attention-deficit disorder from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. (Adult ADD, Adult ADHD, or AADD) is informal terminology commonly used to describe the neurological condition "attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder" (ADHD) when it occurs in adults. Prior to 1987, ADHD was formally known as ADD under the DSM-III issued in 1980. It has been estimated that about eight million adults have ADHD in the United States.

Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder Among Adults from National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is one of the most common childhood disorders and can continue through adolescence and into adulthood. Symptoms include difficulty staying focused and paying attention, difficulty controlling behavior, and hyperactivity (over-activity). Some statistics.

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a common behavioural disorder that affects around one in 20 adults, mainly men. From Better Health Channel, Australia: betterhealth.vic.gov.au.

Adult ADHD (attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder) from Mayo Clinic.

Attention Deficit Disorder (ADHD) Test. Jasper/Goldberg Adult ADD/ADHD Screening Quiz by Larry Jasper & Ivan Goldberg.

AD/HD and Adults from Mental Health America (MHA). What Causes ADD? Prevalence of ADD in Adults, Diagnosis of ADD in Adults, ADD with Hyperactivity, ADD without Hyperactivity, Characteristics of Adults with ADD, Why Identify ADD in Adults?

Adult ADHD: An overlooked problem by Randy Dotinga, HealthDay, from USA Today. ADHD is estimated to affect as many as 7% of American children, as well as 2% to 4% adults.

Helping Adults with ADHD Live Better Lives from Attention Deficit Disorder Association (ADDA).

Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder: ADHD in Adults from MedicineNet.

What Is ADHD? ADHD in Adults - info from ADDults with ADHD (NSW) Inc. Australia. Signs of ADD in Adulthood. 3 core symptoms of ADHD: Inattention, Hyperactivity, and Impulsivity. How is ADHD diagnosed and treated? Some myths about ADHD.

The Prevalence and Correlates of Adult ADHD in the United States: Results From the National Comorbidity Survey Replication by Ronald C. Kessler, et al. From American Journal of Psychiatry, April 2006. Despite growing interest in adult attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), little is known about its prevalence or correlates.

What is Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)? from AADD-UK. UK Prevalence and Gender Distribution, Theories about causes of ADHD (Hereditary Factors, Biological Factors, Psychosocial Factors, Dietary Factors), Symptoms, Comorbidities, Diagnosis and Treatment, Complementary Therapies, FAQ's.

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