During ADHD awareness month, it’s important to bring light to ADHD and how it might affect individuals. Reviewing this list can help serve as a simple ADHD self-test with a more comprehensive test attached for those interested.
While attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) can be hard to diagnose, it affects millions of people in the United States. Millions of children in the US have been diagnosed with ADHD. In fact, an estimated 6.1 million children have been diagnosed with ADHD according to a 2016 national survey.
ADHD may not be curable but there are definitely strategies and treatments available to help with symptoms. If you’re wondering whether you might have ADHD, continue reading.
Before we review some of the signs a person might have ADHD, we first wanted to discuss some of the caveats regarding self-diagnosis. In short, self-diagnosis can be a great starting point for determining whether or not you have a condition, but it’s just that: a starting point.
It takes a mental health professional to confirm whether you have a mental health condition. That doesn’t mean you don’t have it before you get that diagnosis but it does mean you should still seek confirmation.
The reason this is important is that a mental health professional can help you develop a treatment plan. They can also make sure you have what you think you do and answer any questions you may have about your condition.
This test is not a diagnostic tool, nor is it intended to replace a proper diagnosis. Use it only for informational purposes. Mental health conditions should only be diagnosed by a licensed mental health professional or doctor. Regardless of your results from our assessment, you should speak to a doctor about your mental health.
ADHD stands for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Broadly speaking, it manifests in three different ways:
While it is most common for a given person to experience difficulty with both attention and impulse control, some people only experience one or the other. Others may experience one much more than the other, even if they have issues in both areas.
This distinction is important because it will also guide your treatment. For example, you may not need to review coping strategies to help you focus if your weaknesses lay in impulsivity.
While there is plenty of overlap in symptoms between children and adults who have ADHD, it helps to break them into separate groups when discussing the condition.
Additionally, one should note (as discussed above) that many people with ADHD won’t suffer from every symptom described. Not having serious issues with even a few symptoms noted does not necessarily mean a person doesn’t have ADHD.
Children with ADHD often have major problems in school, although their symptoms will obviously be present throughout the day. Common symptoms of ADHD in children include:
Both a child’s peers and adults in their life can often get frustrated by these issues, which can result in low self-esteem, poor grades, frequent punishments at school and/or home, and more.
From the outside, these children often seem not to “get” what they’re being told. It can feel to others that the child listens to what one is saying but then forgets (or ignores) what felt like explicit instructions even a few minutes later.
Even if they haven’t been diagnosed, many adults with ADHD have learned through trial and error some basic coping skills for their condition that can mask some of their symptoms.
Adult life is also vastly different from childhood. Many adults with ADHD are no longer in school and have a bit more control over their environment. This can further mask symptoms or cause them to manifest in other ways.
The underlying feelings and impulses that lead to the symptoms described in children tend to remain in place for adults with ADHD. They will still tend to struggle with memory and organization, which can be a serious problem in some career paths.
Many adults with ADHD have trouble with their emotions, getting quick to anger or grow frustrated. Much like as children, this can make finding friends hard.
While some people believe all children “grow out” of ADHD, this is a myth. While it’s true a small portion of adults see a significant reduction in their symptoms, most will see at best a minor change in symptoms as they grow up.
Adults with ADHD may seem “immature” to outsiders. This is especially true if their condition has gone undiagnosed since they’re not benefitting from any medications or professional advice on how to cope with their symptoms.
Our understanding of adult ADHD is less far along than it is than that in children. It is less diagnosed and more frequently misdiagnosed. However, it is a big focus of increasing amounts of research and we know far more than we did than even a decade ago.
ADHD can affect anyone. 8.4% of children and 2.5% of adults are estimated to have ADHD. While it is more common in males than females, anyone of any gender can develop the condition.
Gender plays other roles in ADHD too. Certain symptoms seem to be more common among specific genders. For example, girls with ADHD are twice as likely compared to boys to develop the inattentive type of ADHD.
What researchers are less sure about is why some people develop the condition. However, there are a few things known to impact the chances of developing ADHD, including:
ADHD does not spontaneously develop in adults. However, it can easily go undiagnosed in people who have mild symptoms or simply grow up somewhere that people aren’t as aware of the condition.
Most people with ADHD have their symptoms noticed (or notice their symptoms themselves) once they enter school. This is because the requirements of traditional schooling often butt heads with symptoms of ADHD enough to cause genuine problems for a given individual.
Like any group of people, those who have ADHD can have wildly varied experiences. That said, there are some commonalities among the many different ways people tend to describe their condition.
What’s often frustrating for these people is they can feel like society isn’t built for them. Growing up, many have had adults in their life frustrated they weren’t “getting” something without trying to figure out why there was a problem in the first place.
Depression is more common in those who suffer from ADHD, in part because the world can feel so overwhelming, all while society’s expectations of them might not change to accommodate their condition.
This is why treatment from a medical professional is so important. They can help you get a better grasp of your symptoms (and a better understanding of how your brain works), allowing you to have some more control and make the world a little less overwhelming.
ADHD is very frequent among people who have autism spectrum disorder (ASD). In fact, over half of the people with ASD also have ADHD.
The exact reason behind this link is not yet understood. While a number of studies have been done on the coexistence of these conditions, the results are, as of yet, inconclusive.
What we do know is that both ADHD and ASD are neurodevelopmental disorders. They also both affect many of the same systems in the brain. The conditions are linked, especially because they both affect men more than women; it is the specifics that are less understood.
Individuals with both conditions will often struggle with their social skills, as both conditions can have a heavy impact on one’s ability to communicate and interact.
People with both ASD and ADHD will want to find a doctor experienced in treating both conditions. That will give them the best chance of finding a combination of therapy and medications that works for them.
If you have ASD and ADHD, it’s still possible to live a happy, vibrant life. The challenge is finding the treatments that work best for you and developing the right coping skills for areas you may be weak in.
If you think you may have ADHD, or know someone who might, there is some exciting research to pay attention to. A new study seems to show brain connectivity is a stable biomarker for ADHD.
In layman’s terms, it seems it may be possible to diagnose ADHD in a manner far more accurate and predictable than was once the case. While there are still some questions to be answered, it remains great news.
Professional diagnosis of ADHD can sometimes be a challenge, especially in adults. It’s a known issue that ADHD symptoms can wax and wane, making it difficult to diagnosis a patient if they happen to be experiencing reduced symptoms during their appointment.
This new diagnostic method may allow doctors to watch how different regions of the brain are communicating in order to diagnose someone with ADHD.
Neither the ADHD self-test attached to this article nor reading the symptoms of ADHD and realizing you deal with many of them is enough to know for sure you have it.
Putting aside what new research is suggesting for the future, the current method to diagnose ADHD primarily involves interviewing a patient and seeing if their symptoms align with those of ADHD.
A medical professional seeking to diagnose someone tests for symptoms in two categories: Inattention and Hyperactivity/Impulsivity. Enough symptoms in those two categories signal a patient might have ADHD.
From there, the medical professional will try to determine if a different diagnosis makes more sense. They also want to make sure the symptoms aren’t location-specific; for example, someone may not have ADHD but instead simply struggle in school for unrelated reasons.
Do yourself and anyone who has ADHD a favor this ADHD Awareness Month and simply try to get informed. Whether you have the condition or not, learning about it helps fight against ADHD’s stigma and the many myths about the condition.
If you’re seeking treatment for ADHD or have questions about what we can offer, contact us. Our staff and facilities are equipped to treat not only ADHD but a number of other mental health conditions too, depending on your needs.