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How Can You Tell if you Have Adult Attention Deficit Disorder?

written by: N Nayab • edited by: Paul Arnold • updated: 12/12/2010

If you suffer from unstable relationships, poor work or school performance, or low self-esteem, irritability, depression, and anxiety, chances are that you may have attention deficient disorder (ADD). So how can you tell if you have adult attention deficit disorder?

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    Attention deficit disorder is a childhood developmental problem characterized by impulsivity, distractibility, and restlessness. Such conditions continue in adulthood in about 60 percent of the cases with varying degrees of severity. An estimated 8 million adults or about 4 percent of the US adult population have ADD but identification and treatment take place only in very few cases.

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    Symptoms

    How Can You Tell if you Have Adult Attention Deficit Disorder With ADD being such a common and widespread disease, how can you tell if you have adult attention deficit disorder? The best way is to look into the ADD symptoms for young and older adults.

    If you have trouble in following directions, remembering information, concentrating or listening carefully, you could have ADD. You could also have ADD if you face difficulty in organizing tasks, managing your time, and/ or completing work within time limits, or if you suffer from chronic lateness. Frequently taking snap decisions or indulging in impulsive behavior, or switching tasks rapidly without completing the earlier tasks are other tell tale signs of ADD.

    With ADD, you would also suffer from frequent anxiety, low self-esteem, depression, mood swings, and difficulty controlling your anger. You are also likely to be suffering from restlessness, impatience and an inability to relax.

    Image Credit: flickr.com/Marco Bellucci

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    Test

    To determine whether your symptoms could be a result of adult attention deficit disorder, take the following test.

    1. Do you fail to pay close attention to details or make careless mistakes?
    2. Do you have difficulty sustaining attention when performing tasks?
    3. Do you find it difficult to follow through on instructions to finish tasks?
    4. Do you have trouble organizing tasks and activities?
    5. Are you reluctant to engage in tasks that require sustained mental effort?
    6. Do you tend to lose things?
    7. Are you frequently distracted?
    8. Are you forgetful in your daily activities?
    9. Do you fidget with hands or feet or squirm in your seat?
    10. Do you remain standing when expected to sit?
    11. Do you run or climb excessively in inappropriate situations?
    12. Do you have difficulty in engaging in leisure activities quietly?
    13. Do you act as if "driven by a motor"?
    14. Do you talk excessively?
    15. Do you blurt out answers before questions are completed?
    16. Do you have difficulty waiting your turn?
    17. Do you frequently interrupt others?

    If you answer “YES” to six or more of the above questions, then the chances are you could have ADD and may need to approach a mental health professional to confirm either way.

    You may encounter such symptoms either mildly or severely, or continually, or irregularly, depending on the situation. For instance, you may concentrate well on tasks that excite or interest you, but face difficulty concentrating otherwise, or you may have trouble concentrating under any circumstances.

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    Behavioral Confirmation

    How Can You Tell if you Have Adult Attention Deficit Disorder The presence of the above symptoms alone need not necessarily confirm adult attention deficit disorder, because virtually everyone encounters most of these symptoms at some point. The risk for ADD comes when such symptoms disrupt your normal life. Another point to note is that only the persistence of such symptoms from childhood shows ADD. Development of these symptoms in adulthood could indicate other disorders such as depression or anxiety, but not ADD.

    One good way to confirm the presence of ADD is by looking at your educational history. Adults with ADD usually have a history of poor educational performance, and are underachievers at school. If you were disciplined frequently, if you had to repeat a grade, or you dropped out from school, chances are that your symptoms could indicate ADD.

    Another way to confirm whether the symptoms pertain to ADD is by looking at your employment history. If you have a track record of poor performance manifesting in low appraisal scores, or if you change jobs frequently, the chances are that you could have ADD.

    Image Credit: flickr.com/Roy Blumenthal

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    Risk Factors

    The symptoms notwithstanding, how can you tell if you have adult attention deficit disorder (ADD)?

    If you are a woman, the chances of ADD are less regardless of the symptoms or behaviors. ADD is much more common in boys than girls.

    Another way to confirm ADD is by looking at your family history. People with ADD usually have one parent, uncle or other first-degree relative with the disorder.

    You might also be at an increased risk of ADD if you were exposed to some environmental toxins such as lead in paint while in utero or as a child growing up.

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    References

    1. MedicineNet. “Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: ADHD in Adults.” http://www.medicinenet.com/adhd_in_adults/article.htm
    2. MayoClinic. “Adult ADHD.” http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/adult-adhd/DS01161
    3. University of Maryland Medical Center. “Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.” http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/attention-deficit-000017.htm
    4. eMedicineHealth. “ADHD in Adults.” http://www.emedicinehealth.com/adhd_in_adults/page3_em.htm