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  3. Introduction

We all have days when we can't find our keys, always seem to say the wrong thing at the wrong time, or just can't seem to complete anything we start. But for adults with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), these days can be the norm rather than the exception.

Many people have symptoms of adult ADHD but don't realize that what they're feeling is a legitimate condition with promising treatments. They may feel hopeless, worthless, and bored without reason. They may be easily distracted and impulsive. They may be so disorganized and forgetful that their condition has unraveled every area of their lives, from job performance to personal relationships.

Contrary to popular belief, ADHD is not a condition found only in children. Although the disorder is more common in children, millions of adults also suffer from it.

Unfortunately, only 15 percent of adults who have ADHD are ever diagnosed or treated. One factor fueling the silent epidemic of adult ADHD is that adults continue to be diagnosed on criteria that were developed for children with the disorder, which do not accurately reflect the condition's effects on adults.

In addition, many adults struggle for years with undiagnosed adult ADHD and simply don't realize they are affected by a condition that can be diagnosed and treated. For those who do seek help, getting a correct diagnosis can be complicated by the overlap between the symptoms of adult ADHD and many other common psychiatric conditions, including clinical depression, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, and bipolar disorder.

Many undiagnosed adults rely on a variety of coping mechanisms to deal with their symptoms, sometimes risking their health or even their lives in an attempt to appear “normal.” It's not unusual for adults with ADHD to work many hours of overtime to keep up with colleagues or to stay up all night studying for a test their classmates easily prepared for in an hour.

To mask symptoms of inattention, drowsiness, anxiety, and depression, many sufferers also abuse alcohol and illegal stimulant drugs. Some become so adept at hiding symptoms that their family, friends, and physicians never suspect they have a problem until the situation becomes impossible to ignore.

Most adults with ADHD suffer highly chaotic lives as they struggle daily with concomitant problems ranging from poor sleeping habits and high risk behavior to associated psychiatric conditions including depression, drug abuse, and learning disabilities. Erratic work performance accounts for billions of dollars in lost earnings.

This health guide offers practical advice on the telltale signs and symptoms of adult ADHD and information on getting a reliable diagnosis, evaluation, and treatment. It may also help remove years of blame, shame, and guilt by reassuring you that you're not really a collection of your symptoms (lazy, crazy, stupid, careless, dishonest), but rather the victim of a neurobiological syndrome whose symptoms can be treated.

By reading this book, you'll also glean the basic medical knowledge necessary to talk intelligently to your doctor about your condition. You'll learn about the condition's classic symptoms, new diagnostic and evaluation techniques, and an increasingly sophisticated arsenal of high-tech treatment and medication modalities used to treat the condition.

It's not easy for an adult to live with ADHD. But the good news is that most adults with ADHD can be successfully diagnosed and treated and go on to lead more productive lives. The key to getting and staying well is knowledge. By picking up this book, you've made a commitment to learn as much as you can about adult ADHD and taken the first step in your journey to improved health and happiness.

  1. Home
  2. Adult ADD / ADHD
  3. Introduction
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