ADHD in adults: what it is, how to treat it, and why medicine ignored it for so long?

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(THE CONVERSATION) Parents and doctors have known about ADHD in children – attention deficit hyperactivity disorder – for decades, but it is only recently that the medical community has begun to recognize, diagnose and seriously study ADHD in adults. In this episode of The Conversation Weekly podcast, we explore what ADHD in adults looks like, how it’s diagnosed today, and the many new treatments available to help people with the disorder live better lives.

The name attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is a pretty good description of this common condition, but it can manifest itself in a few different ways. Some people only have trouble paying attention, some people can concentrate on tasks but are constantly fidgeting or dealing with excessive energy, and some people exhibit both attention problems and hyperactivity. But for those who study ADHD, how these symptoms affect people’s daily lives is paramount.

Tamara May is a senior research fellow at Monash University in Australia. She says ADHD “affects the way our executive functions work. These are things like how we pay attention, how we moderate ourselves, how we plan and organize, time management, and how we shift attention.” As May explains, many people with ADHD are forgetful and bad at time management, and these problems can affect many aspects of daily life. “It means you underperformed academically or had to drop out. It means your interpersonal relationships are affected, that you unable to maintain friendships or rely heavily on a partner to do all of your organization.”

Fortunately, awareness of ADHD in adults has grown, as has knowledge of how to treat it, both with drugs and behavioral therapy. Laura Knouse is an associate professor of psychology at the University of Richmond in the US and studies how therapy can help adults with ADHD. She says that, according to the most recent research, the best non-drug treatments “fall under this umbrella of something we call cognitive behavioral therapy. I like to simplify that and just say a skills-based treatment, a treatment that will help you figure it out.” How to structure your environment and how to structure your time and develop the strategies you need to make your goals real, even if you have ADHD in your life.”

In the full episode of the podcast, we talk in-depth with Knouse about what these therapies are, how they interact with medication, and what’s next for treatments. Then we close the episode with Tamara May, taking a look at how the perception of ADHD in adults – both within medicine and culture more generally – has changed in recent years and what it means for those who have it.

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This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article here: 182534.

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