Peter Hibberd, M.D., is a doctor whose advice is based on more than 28 years of hospital outpatient and inpatient experience. He is an experienced emergency medicine physician, surgeon, and consultant. Dr. Hibberd is certified by the American Board of Emergency Medicine. He is also a fellow and active member of the American Academy of Family Physicians, an active member of the American College of Emergency Physicians, and a member and fellow of the American Academy of Emergency Medicine. Dr. Hibberd has earned numerous national and international professional certifications, memberships, and awards.

Help for ADHD

Friday, 11 March 2011 10:10 AM

Question: What are the symptoms of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder in adults? How is it diagnosed and treated? Are there treatments that don't involve drugs?

Dr. Hibberd's Answer:

Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) also is known as Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), but the official medical term is ADHD. ADHD is typically diagnosed during childhood and teen years, but it can affect a person throughout life.

Common symptoms include distractability, short attention span, hyperactivity of various extremes, and impaired learning and concentration as a result of minimal brain dysfunction of unknown cause. These symptoms disturb not only the person with ADHD, but also those around them who often are annoyed with the hyperactivity that people with ADHD often show.

Treatment options include counseling, stimulant medications, and various group learning activities. Most people with ADHD can be treated and accommodations made to improve their attention spans, especially in relation to school and other learning activities.

ADHD in adults is far less common and may be seen as an extension of adolescent ADHD or an entirely different disorder masquerading as "adult ADHD." Diagnosis is important and can be made accurately by licensed medical professionals, usually medical doctors and doctors of psychology who specialize in neuropsychological disorders.

Appropriate psychological supportive testing is important, especially in older children and adults. Many other disorders may masquerade as ADHD but if treated with stimulant medication can worsen. For example, people with bipolar disorder have some attention deficit features, but stimulant medication often worsens their plight because they actually need anti-psychotic medication with an additional mood stabilizer.

Be sure to seek professional guidance if you or a loved one seem to have signs of ADHD. There are many choices for ADHD patients, and not all treatments involve medication. Sometimes focused and group therapy may be very useful. The medical community is often pressured to overdiagnose and overtreat this condition, and frequently rushes to recommend medication when other treatment options may be far safer and more effective.

Medication for ADHD is usually prescribed for several years until the brain has matured by the late teen years, then often other treatment regimens other than stimulant medication may become more appropriate, especially when the condition extends into adult years.

© HealthDay

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