Attention Deficit Disorder Often Brings Anxiety
Attention Deficit Disorder …What it is and Do You Have It?
It is estimated that 3-6% of children have ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). Although there are no absolute statistics regarding adults or children with this syndrome, some scientists speculate that about half of that number carries the disorder into adulthood.
As children grow into adults the external symptoms, especially of hyperactivity, tend to become internalized and less visible. Often there are other problems or conditions that exist side by side, known as co-morbid conditions, which affect a person.
Co-morbidity means having two or more diagnosable conditions at the same time. It is thought that when such conditions are found in a child there will be a greater likelihood that he will carry it into adulthood.
As an Adult You Probably Have a History
Typically an adult with ADD has a history of symptoms dating back to childhood. As a child he may have had a learning disability, been depressed, had poor impulse control, appeared edgy or anxious, had conduct problems, or even suffered from Tourette syndrome.
As an adult he may have found himself anxious, depressed, sometimes forgetful, distracted or unable to concentrate well enough to successfully complete tasks or projects (giving up), becoming bored, having bad relationships and using substances to modulate his moods. He may have had counseling for anxiety or depression and not been diagnosed with ADD.
A person with ADD can suffer from low self-esteem because he may feel unable to do things he thinks others find easy to do. Even simple organizational tasks may prove too difficult causing anxious feelings about his competence and he may give up trying or become angry or depressed if someone points out his poor performance.
For Most People It Is a Struggle
By the time someone with ADD reaches adulthood the effects of the disorder have probably permeated almost all aspects of his life.
He may have had several unsuccessful relationships, tended to rely heavily on drugs or alcohol, may have had anger problems and has probably experienced bouts of depression and/or high levels of anxiety. He has likely been misunderstood as lazy, uninterested and unmotivated or even just plain dumb.
On the other hand, some people with ADD have learned ways to compensate. Their symptoms may not have been as severe or they may have been able to develop skills that enabled them to perform well at some tasks.
Examples of this are: a gifted athlete with ADD competing at a high level; a businessman who has been able to find a niche and has a good support team who may see his symptoms as idiosyncrasies; and a doctor with a passion for medicine who barely made it through medical school by developing his own ingenious ways to memorize information.
What Does It Mean?
Having ADD does not mean you are dumb! It means there is something wrong in the wiring of the brain.
Studies seem to show that ADD (or ADHD) is a neurobiological disorder, pointing to chemical deficiencies or imbalances in the brain as probable cause. Complications at birth, prenatal problems, early neurological problems and heredity can all contribute to causing ADHD.
Diagnosing adult ADD is not always easy. However, once a proper diagnosis is made the patient can be helped in many ways.
There are several strategies that can be employed to cope effectively with poor organizational skills, distractibility, poor impulse control, depressed or anxious moods and substance abuse issues. There are medications that, when used properly, can offer significant relief.
The discovery that one has ADD sometimes will evoke a “now it all makes sense” response. Patients and their families begin to nod their heads in recognition of things they have previously stored away in their minds. In the best-case scenarios help, after years of suffering, is quick to come. For others it is a longer road, but at least they have found the right direction.
The ADD Quiz…Do You Have ADD?
The following is a questionnaire that may help you to identify whether you have ADD. It is not a clinical instrument but more a guide for you to evaluate the possibility that you have the condition.
Please answer yes or no. Answer YES only if you feel that the description has fit you throughout most of your life.
1) I often find myself overwhelmed by details.
2) It is often difficult for me to fully complete a task, especially if it has several parts to it.
3) My thoughts seem hard to hold on to.
4) I become irritable easily.
5) I space out when I am in conversations with people.
6) I tend to interrupt or blurt things out when I talk to people.
7) I find it hard to stay focused when someone talks to me for a while.
8) I often find it hard to pay attention to almost anything.
9) I have difficulty reading because my mind wanders.
10) I tend to feel edgy and have a hard time staying still
11) It is hard for me to just think one thought.
12) My moods tend can change quickly.
13) Unless something really interests me I find it hard to pay attention.
14) I tend to start things but not complete them.
15) I seem to be “antsy” and prefer moving around.
16) I often feel my mind is jammed up or cluttered.
17) I can be easily distracted.
18) I will often delay starting something that takes a lot of focus.
19) I can space out or daydream easily.
20) I am upset about the way my mind works.
If you have answered YES to 5 or more of these statements you may have ADD. If you have been distressed by this and wish to get treatment you can call or send me an email.
About the Author
Dr. Stan Hyman is a licensed psychotherapist and life coach in private practice in Miami, Florida. He specializes in treating Anxiety Disorders (including Panic Disorder, Social Anxiety Disorder, ADD, GAD and OCD) stress and depression