What is ADHD?

In a 24/7, plugged-in world of constant distractions, where work life and home life often overlap, and your smartphone dings with news alerts unceasingly, you may find it increasingly difficult to accomplish tasks that require concentration and focus. In fact, when you miss a deadline or lose your keys you might have jokingly remarked, “I must have ADHD.”

But do you? What’s the difference between the normal frustrations and distractions of life and actually having attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)? Adult psychiatrist Dr. Hina Sidhu here at Revîv Functional Psychiatry & TMS Wellness Center points out that if you have ADHD symptoms as an adult, you probably had them as a child, too — even if you were never formally diagnosed.

ADHD starts in childhood

Clinically, ADHD is a disorder of brain function that prevents you from paying close attention, focusing, and managing impulses. A persistent pattern of inattention or impulsivity that interferes with your day-to-day functioning could be a sign that you have ADHD.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, about 5.4% of men and 3.2% of women aged 18-44 years have been diagnosed with ADHD. However, many adults who have ADHD haven’t received a clinical diagnosis and may not know they have it.

ADHD has different types

Complicating the diagnosis of ADHD is the fact that it can manifest in a variety of ways, with overlapping behaviors, symptoms, and signs. In general, ADHD gets classified in one of two main ways:

Predominantly inattentive ADHD

Men and women with predominantly inattentive ADHD may find it difficult to complete tasks at school or work. Some symptoms include:

If you have predominantly inattentive ADHD, you might also get distracted easily. You might not be able to pay attention during long lectures or be able to finish reading books.

Predominantly hyperactive/impulsive ADHD

When you think of ADHD, the image that probably comes to mind is a kid who fidgets, can’t pay attention in school, and causes disruptions. As adults, people with predominantly hyperactive/impulsive ADHD may:

Many children and adults have a combination of inattentive and hyperactive/impulsive ADHD.

ADHD must be diagnosed

If you read down these lists and recognize some of your own behaviors, that still doesn’t mean you have ADHD. For a diagnosis, you need to have at least five symptoms. These behaviors must also occur in at least two different environments — such as at home and at work — and be significant enough to interfere with your ability to function.

Many symptoms of ADHD are also similar to other mental health disorders, such as depression and anxiety. In fact, people with ADHD may have depression or anxiety as complicating factors. The consequences of untreated ADHD — such as dropping out of school, not being able to hold a job, or failing in relationships — often cause depression and a low sense of self-worth.

ADHD can be treated

If you believe that being distracted or acting impulsively is interfering with your ability to live life to the fullest and accomplish your goals, coming in for an ADHD evaluation at Revîv Functional Psychiatry & TMS Wellness Center is the first step toward getting on track. Even if you don’t have ADHD, you may have an undiagnosed learning disorder, depression, or anxiety, all of which can be managed with behavioral therapies or medication.

You also may have a physical condition that’s causing your symptoms. Sleep apnea, for instance, is a sleeping disorder that prevents you from resting fully at night. Sleep apnea may cause memory and focus problems. Thyroid deficiency, hormonal imbalances, and stress can all lead to symptoms that are similar to those of ADHD.

When you come for a consultation, Dr. Sidhu takes a complete medical history and conducts a thorough evaluation. If she diagnoses you with ADHD, she may recommend psychotherapy, behavior management strategies, and medication so that you can be more focused, attentive, and productive.

To set up an ADHD evaluation, simply phone our office in Fullerton, California, or book an appointment online.

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