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Adults with ADHD: Myths and Facts

By Dr. Geri Markel On 

Adults with ADHD live life on a proverbial roller coaster.

Although many adults suffer symptoms of ADHD, many are undiagnosed. They endure ups and downs with impulsivity, restlessness, poor memory, and disorganization.

There are myths that are are bandied about on talk shows, in newspapers, and at parties,  which questions the validity or reality of adults who have ADHD.

Such as:

  • “Isn’t ADHD just a cop-out for an adult who is lazy?” or
  • “We all have some problems with attention at one time or another—so, what’s the big deal?” or
  • “Is there really such a thing as Adult ADHD?”

“Yes!” is the answer to the last question. “There is such thing as Adult ADHD.” It’s not just a cop-out for anyone who is lazy. In fact, people with ADHD often work harder to meet their responsibilities at home and at work.

How do You Know if You Have Adult ADHD?

If you were never diagnosed as a child, and although there is no blood test for ADHD, you can find out whether you have it through careful evaluations.

Symptoms of ADHD

Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is considered a neurological disorder. The symptoms are long-standing, pervasive, and chronic.

Adults suffering from ADHD experience problems in work performance, social life, relationships at home and work, and in graduate and/or professional school.

Though typically ADHD occurs in adults with average or above average intelligence, they are chronically unable to perform up to expected levels. They can’t focus on their work, are slow to begin and complete task, can’t retain what they have heard or read, and are disorganized.

The term Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) applies to a person who experiences the symptoms of ADHD, except for hyperactivity or impulsiveness. Currently, the only diagnostic term used is ADHD.

Adult ADHD and Executive Function Impairment

Recent research on the brain has identified regions in the prefrontal cortex that are smaller or less active than normal in people with ADHD. It is this area that is responsible for executive functions. Just as a conductor of a symphony directs the flow of music, the pre frontal cortex houses the “wiring” to help humans set goals, devise strategies, adapt, and integrate actions.

“Executive functioning” refers to a set of mental skills dedicated to managing your attention, as well as integrating your attention with other critical thinking skills. These skills affect your:

  • Memory
  • Impulse control
  • Emotional regulation
  • Organization and planning
  • Prioritization
  • Problem solving
  • Time awareness
  • Overall mental flexibility

If you, or someone you know, exhibits some of the issues discussed above, getting an evaluation can be absolutely critical for many reasons:

  • Self-esteem
  • Quality of Life
  • Career fulfillment and satisfaction
  • Health
  • And much more.

ADHD adults experience distraction, forgetfulness, and disorganization. It puts them at a disadvantage in our distraction-driven society. Many bright, competent individuals who suffer from these symptoms have compensated for them – until their lives become too fasted-paced or complicated. The symptoms then present insurmountable barriers to getting promoted, staying married, or fulfilling parental roles.


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