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ADHD Beyond Childhood | When the Condition Persists

ADHD, Adult ADHD, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, counseling for ADHD, adult counseling Pinehurst NC

ADHD Beyond Childhood | When the Condition Persists


The mention of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) can generally invoke the image of children who run around tirelessly while ignoring the admonishments of adults. This is because it is a neurobehavioral condition that develops in childhood. It is, in fact, the most prevalent emotional condition among children in the United States and is usually diagnosed between the ages 4 and 17. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), though, younger children can also develop ADHD. Without treatment, the condition may also persist beyond childhood and adolescence.

ADHD is not as prevalent in adults. Approximately 4 to 5 percent of the American adult population have it, but not many are receiving a proper diagnosis or treatment for it. The biggest factor in having adult ADHD is having had it as a child. According to a study published in the Pediatrics Journal, “… about a third of those diagnosed as children continue to have ADHD as adults, and more than half of those adults have another psychiatric disorder as well.” While many children can outgrow ADHD, especially with diagnosis and treatment, it can also carry over into adulthood.

Considering the heavy load and the multiple challenges that you have as an adult, life could very well be a balancing act for you. If ADHD continues to weigh you down, being constantly forgetful, disorganized and tardy can have serious repercussions in balancing the many aspects of your life. This underscores why ADHD must not be ignored in children or adults. Understanding it is a good first step, as it directs you to the right decisions, such as seeking help from a professional.


Adult ADHD: Is for Real?

ADHD could very well have started when you were young. According to scientific studies, however, it can extend into your adulthood, particularly if your ADHD had not been diagnosed and treated as a child. “In the largest study of its kind, researchers at Boston Children’s Hospital and Mayo Clinic found that close to a third of children with ADHD — 29.3% — still have the disorder as adults, along with an increased rate of other psychiatric problems.” According to Dr. William Barbaresi, the lead researcher, “it is a continuing health issue that deserves lot more attention than it has received.”

The condition is more noticeable while it is developing during childhood. Being young, children are unable to restrain their responses; their hyperactive and impulsive symptoms can become more noticeable and disruptive. The manifestations change over their lifespan. The symptoms may become pronounced and reckless during adolescence, but often they become milder toward adulthood. As an adult, you learn strategies that can help temper your impulsive and hyperactive behaviors, even when the impairment could still be there.

ADHD was often misdiagnosed in the past because only few people were aware of it. When this happens, it can persist beyond childhood. Its diagnosis may also be very challenging because one of the criteria for an ADHD diagnosis is for the symptoms to be present in childhood. This means that ADHD does not develop in later years – the adult form is ADHD extending beyond childhood that has not been diagnosed, or has been diagnosed, but not treated.


Do You Have Adult ADHD Symptoms?

The signs and symptoms of ADHD are not easy to spot, as they vary from one individual to another. It may present differently in adults and it may also change as you get older. Hence, the chance that you may not be diagnosed with the condition until much later into your adulthood is high. This was common until recently, when ADHD became a “household name.” During those days, a child with the condition was likely to be labeled as a troublemaker, a dreamer, a poor student, etc. As an adult, you could also be tagged with many other names for not being able to organize or complete tasks on time, for not following instructions, for being a mediocre, etc.

These labels could be avoided if the signs and symptoms were recognized early for diagnosis and treatment. The question is: What are the warning signs or symptoms of adult ADHD that you must watch out for?  According to Help Guide, “In adults, attention deficit disorder often looks quite different than it does in children—and its symptoms are unique for each individual.” In fact, they are much less expected to be hyperactive than youngsters with ADHD.

Inattention is a common symptom, so you could have difficulty concentrating and staying focused, especially on matters that don’t interest you. Some related manifestations include being easily distracted, poor listening skills, and “zoning out” in the middle of a conversation. On the other hand, you could be “hyper-focused” or overly focused on things that you find fascinating. It is also common among adults with ADHD to be forgetful and disorganized. Impulsivity is another common indicator, so you may act, react or say something before thinking.

Most of these symptoms can bring about emotional challenges. If you are having a hard time regulating your responses and feelings, you may feel frustrated and angry when things don’t happen the way you want them. You could become hypersensitive to comments and criticisms. It could trigger hyperactivity, perhaps not in the way of a hyperactive child, but in terms of having racing thoughts, boredom, talking incessantly, persistent fidgeting, multitasking, tendency to take risks, etc. Adult ADHD may also contribute to low self-esteem, and feelings of underachievement and demotivation.


The Bleak Scenario

Undiagnosed and untreated ADHD can result in wide-reaching issues in almost every aspect of your life. “If you have adult ADHD, you may find it hard to follow directions, remember information, concentrate, organize tasks, and finish work on time.” It can trigger many issues in the various facets of life. People around you can get fed up because of unmet expectations   due to your tardiness or inability to complete tasks on time, inattention and lack of focus, impulsiveness, etc. These can complicate relationships with your loved ones, friends, peers and fellow workers.

Adult ADHD can also contribute to an assortment of health issues. It may even result in your being reckless, increasing your vulnerability to substance abuse and accidents. Your health may also be affected as you overlook your medical appointments, forget to take your medications at the right time, or ignore medical advices and instructions. The condition may likewise bring about work and financial challenges. It can contribute to strong feelings of underachievement, so you may find difficulty keeping a job, pursuing a career or climbing the “corporate ladder.”  Work challenges and, perhaps impulsive spending, financial troubles may not be too far off.

ADHD, even in adults, can lead to emotional turmoil, as you are embroiled in embarrassment and/or feelings of hopelessness, distress, frustration, and loss of confidence. You may experience poor self-esteem, as you fail to achieve your goals and adapt to the many vital aspects of your life. If your ADHD manifestations include poor listening skills, angry outbursts and the inability to fulfill obligations, your relationships with your spouse/partner, children and the people you relate with at work can also be strained.


Relieving the Symptoms of ADHD Beyond Childhood

ADHD can very well extend beyond childhood. The condition can impair your adult “executive functions” – memory, decision-making, creativity, judgment, and the ability to bring to completion multifaceted tasks. Thus, it can get in the way of your goals and impact your life, health, relationships and career in many negative ways. If it was missed when you were a child, it is important to recognize the symptoms this time, so you can be helped by an experienced counselor/therapist independently contracted with Carolina Counseling Services – Pinehurst, NC.

The proper diagnosis of adult ADHD can be an enormous source of hope and relief. It can help you understand your challenges and realize that it isn’t your fault or a character flaw if you have this neurobehavioral condition. Despite how you feel because of adult ADHD, know that you can overcome the challenges it can bring about. With awareness, education, assistance, and professional help from a caring and qualified expert independently contracted with CCS – Pinehurst, NC, you can alleviate the symptoms of this condition. Call today!

Serving Areas: Carolina Counseling Services – Pinehurst, NC

Counties: Moore county, NC, Lee County, Hoke County, Chatham County

Areas: Pinehurst NC, West End NC, Taylortown NC, Seven Lakes NC, Eagle Springs NC, Jackson Springs NC, Foxfire NC, Candor NC, Norman NC, Ellerbe NC, Rockingham NC

Zip Codes: 27281, 27376, 28315, 28347, 28350, 28373, 28374, 28387, 28388, 28394

Kelly ErkenBrack, LCSW

Specializes in: (Ages 3+) Children, Teens, Adults, Couples and Families. Anxiety, Depression, Grief and Loss, Mood Disorders, Trauma, Adjustments and Life Transitions, ADHD, Behavioral Issues, Parenting, Relationship Concerns, Self Esteem
Insurance: BCBSTricare Prime/Select, Medicare and Cash
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Location: Pinehurst, NC

Robin Caswell, MSW, LCSW

Specializes in: (Ages 5+), Individuals, Adults, Anxiety, Depression, Grief, Loss, ADHD, ODD, Trauma/PTSD, LGBTQ, Self-Harm, Military Family Life, Mood Disorders, OCD, Phobias
Insurance: BCBS, Tricare, Medicare and Cash
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Location: Pinehurst, NC

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Carolina Counseling Services – Pinehurst, NC

45 Dowd Circle Suite 5
PinehurstNC 28374

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PO BOX 9909
Fayetteville, NC 28311