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Many people are under the misconception that attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is something that primarily affects adolescent populations. This is simply untrue. Adult ADHD is something that affects millions of people every day. According to the Journal of Global Health, “By adjusting for the global demographic structure in 2020, the prevalence of persistent adult ADHD was 2.58% and that of symptomatic adult ADHD was 6.76%, translating to 139.84 million and 366.33 million affected adults in 2020 globally.” While that is a hung chunk of the global population, adult ADHD often goes unrecognized.

What Exactly Is ADHD?

Before understanding adult ADHD, it would be beneficial to understand the basics of ADHD. Many people believe that they understand ADHD because it is often used as a pop-culture buzzword meant to represent a myriad of everyday experiences such as feeling rushed, frazzled, or a bit out of control. Simply put, this colloquial use of ADHD is inaccurate, and as it is a serious mental health disorder, these notions minimize the challenging impact of ADHD on daily life.

According to authors Magnus, Nazir, Anilkumar, and Shaban in their clinical write-up titled Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, “Attention-deficit/hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a psychiatric condition that has long been recognized as affecting children’s ability to function. Individuals suffering from this disorder show patterns of developmentally inappropriate levels of inattentiveness, hyperactivity, or impulsivity.” 

Now, even though this description focuses on adolescents, there is now much more consensus that ADHD also carries over into adulthood. Additionally, ADHD is also being diagnosed more and more in adults who did not exhibit obvious symptoms during childhood. 

What Is Adult ADHD?

An article titled “The Prevalence of Adult Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: A Global Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis” in the Journal of Global Health also explains that “Despite the prevailing assumption that adult ADHD and childhood ADHD affect the same group of people and share the same neurodevelopmental etiology, several prospective longitudinal studies have revealed that more than two-thirds of people with adult ADHD have ever had childhood ADHD.” Ultimately, this confirms that ADHD doesn’t have to be present in childhood to manifest in adulthood.

However, many of the symptoms of childhood ADHD are the same. These are just a few of the symptoms of untreated ADHD in adults:

  • Having trouble sitting still, which tends to be especially true in quiet or calm settings
  • Difficulty or inability to concentrate or focus on certain tasks
  • Regularly fidgeting or appearing “jittery”
  • Talking excessively and out of turn
  • Moving excessively and uncontrollably
  • Being interruptive in conversations
  • Exhibiting impulsive behavior and acting out of turn

Is There a Difference Between Adult ADHD and Adolescent ADHD?

The primary differences between childhood ADHD and adult ADHD include how each is perceived, the negative effects and consequences that can arise from untreated ADHD, and how they are both treated. However, there is also often a noticeable symptomatic difference, being that although adults with ADHD tend to have less hyperactivity, impulsivity still remains high.

The Negative Effects of Untreated Adult ADHD

Due to the often uncontrollable nature of adult ADHD, many of the negative effects arise as external consequences rather than biological ones. Though, it should be noted that there are certainly physical side effects from untreated ADHD, such as insomnia, sensitivity to light and loud noises, increased heart rate, and restless leg tapping.

The following are just a few of the issues that can arise from untreated adult ADHD:

  • Greater potential to acquire another comorbidity of mental health, such as an anxiety disorder
  • Increased likelihood of acquiring substance use disorder (SUD), alcohol use disorder (AUD), or other process addictions such as social media addiction
  • Experiencing professional consequences due to the inability to fully function at work
  • Trouble maintaining relationships
  • Difficulty with financial impulsivity
  • Increased likelihood of engaging in risky behaviors

Treating Adult ADHD

The good news is that there are many effective ways to treat adult ADHD. The primary ways by which it is treated are via medication and therapy. Ideally, effective and lasting symptom management requires a combination of both.

Medications, such as Adderall and Ritalin, have been shown to help control the symptoms of restlessness and increase focus in individuals with adult ADHD. Also, therapies, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) for example, have been shown to address the underlying issues that contribute to the maladaptive behaviors of ADHD. These therapies also offer the tools and coping mechanisms that can help manage ADHD symptoms moving forward.

The Importance of Individualized Care at the Phoenix Recovery Center

Here at the Phoenix Recovery Center, we understand the importance of focusing on the individual rather than the diagnosis. That is why we treat each of our clients on an individualized basis.

We create individualized recovery plans specific to each of our client’s needs. Because we know that a lasting solution requires a personal connection, and we strive for nothing less.

Understanding the signs and symptoms of adult ADHD can be extremely beneficial if you suspect you or a loved one may be struggling with the disorder. Spotting the warning signs of adult ADHD can be the difference between experiencing short-term side effects and long-term consequences. If you feel like you or a loved one may be struggling with ADHD or any other issue of mental health, we can help. For more information and support, reach out to The Phoenix Recovery Center today by calling (801) 438-3185.

The Phoenix Recovery Center
489 W. South Jordan Pkwy
Suite 400
South Jordan, UT