What Causes Adult ADHD and How Is It Diagnosed?

What Causes Adult ADHD and How Is It Diagnosed?

About 4% of adults in the US have either diagnosed or undiagnosed ADHD/ADD with a worldwide prevalence estimated at 2.8%. This medical condition can have a significant effect on one’s quality of life. If you are one of the 4%, you might find it hard to maintain relationships or even keep a job. If you’ve had the condition since childhood, you might have performed badly in school.

ADHD/ADD can be a lifetime struggle that may cause the one afflicted to have low self-esteem. The quality of life is often difficult and different for most people. When you have ADHD/ADD, you are more likely to have extreme mood swings and personality disorders, if left undiagnosed. However, if ADHD/ADD is properly diagnosed and managed, you’ll have a better quality of life.


What Are The Causes of ADHD/ADD?

The exact cause of ADHD/ADD is not yet known, despite the continuing research and studies by medical experts. Doctors are made to believe that this condition could be possibly caused by structural and chemical imbalances in the brain. One angle that they are most likely to believe is that a person with ADHD/ADD may lack monoamines, a group of brain chemicals. Their observation that some sufferers are able to manage their condition with medications and treatments suggests that the chemicals in the brain are partially involved in the development of this common behavioural disorder.

There is another theory that genes might be involved, as well, because according to scientific data, approximately 55% of families with at least one ADHD diagnosed child have at least one parent that also has the disorder. It is also more common if your mother had issues during her pregnancy, including being exposed to medications, drugs, and stress while pregnant.

Information is sent back and forth throughout our brains as electrical charges pass the boundaries of each cell and jump off to the next cell’s axon. It’s not an exaggeration to say that at any given moment, your brain has billions of neurons firing off electrical impulses to send, receive, and analyze information.

The neurobiological cause of ADHD has been the subject of many scientific studies and academic research since the eighties, when ADD changed from a childhood behavioural problem specifically found in boys, to ADHD, a disorder that causes impairment in the brain’s management system, i.e. executive functions.

However, there is still not a single definitive answer to the ageing question of whether ADHD is a problem with the brain’s neurology or merely a psychological issue like anxiety, for example. And if it is a neurobiological problem, where exactly does it lie?

Does the fault lie in the neuron cell’s axons, where the material that the charges are supposed to travel in is dangerously low in concentration? Does it lie in the brain’s grey matter or the white matter? Is it a problem with the sending of signals or the receiving of them? These questions are the subject of continuous research.

So how do we decide how to treat ADHD when it seems almost impossible to pinpoint its actual cause in the brain? Extensive research has found that the ADHD brain differs from “regular” brains in many aspects. Consequently, this shows that in order for us to actually start treating ADHD patients, we can only focus on trying to help them maintain a somewhat normal life, given the situation.

Everyone’s symptoms of ADHD are a unique manifestation of who they are. However, this can also be shaped by the environment they were raised in and the societal norms they must follow. A proof of this is that in cases where the patient comes from an abusive home or one with issues regarding scarcity of money in their upbringing, they show more severe symptoms.

A new study published in JAMA Psychiatry sheds new light on the ADHD dilemma and also brings first of its kind discoveries. It found that a staggering 70% of the group of the adults they questioned had few to zero signs of ADHD present in childhood or adolescence. The adults in the study with this late-onset of ADHD also tested positive for other disorders and psychological impairment. This study comes hand in hand with other studies with the same research question done in Brazil and New Zealand, which all ended up with the same conclusion – ADHD is not a childhood-only disorder.


How is ADHD/ADD Diagnosed?

ADHD/ADD symptoms can have similarities with the symptoms of depression and anxiety disorders; hence, getting an accurate diagnosis is imperative. While there is no single test that can determine the presence of the condition, these are what doctors try to include in getting an accurate diagnosis every time a patient comes to them with the obvious symptoms:

  • Rule out alcohol addiction or substance abuse that could be causing the symptoms (however, someone who has ADHD/ADD may have alcohol and drug issues)
  • Rate current behavior manifestations
  • Establish behavior and lifestyle through conducting interviews with people close (family and friends) to the person
  • Dig into school report cards (if available) and look for feedback from teachers about behavior problems, like lack of focus in school activities or underachievement
  • Establish if the person was diagnosed with ADHD/ADD as a child
  • Conduct physical examinations to rule out any medical or neurological illness
  • Blood tests

Conduct EEG (electroencephalograph) tests for abnormalities in the brain wave patterns (this may still be a controversial test, but most doctors attest that it helps them making accurate diagnosis of the condition)

Regardless of type, ADHD disrupts family and social ties in ways that are very difficult for others to understand. Since ADHD is often considered a childhood disease, adults with the disorder often go untreated. This situation is changing, but slowly.
There is no sure-fire test that instantly diagnoses adult ADHD. Healthcare professionals must look carefully at adult and childhood symptoms, as related to them not only by the patient but also by family members, friends, teachers and others who knew the patient as a child. It doesn’t help that adults, particularly those with high intelligence, tend to compensate for the symptoms. They may do this so effectively that they completely avoid seeking help, even though every day is a struggle for them.


ADHD Self-Test

ADHD is a mental disorder which influences the conduct of a man. This disorder for the most part begins appropriate from childhood and gets carried on to every one of the phases of life if not detected and treated at some piece of the life. Individuals having this disorder will think that its difficult to think and remain centered.

Tests are accessible for one to dissect himself and check on the off chance that he has ADHD and are only a poll comprising of various inquiries with respect to the conduct of a person. The inquiries are by and large connected with the symptoms of ADHD. The aftereffect of the test gives the nearness of ADHD as well as the sort of ADHD which is related with the person.
When to Seek Help

If symptoms are hindering your ability to live normally, even if you put in a lot of effort to manage the condition, it might be time to consult a doctor. You can benefit from the different treatments and medications. These people can help you get accurate diagnosis and proper treatment.

Leave a Comment

Latest Posts

Famous Scientists Who Had ADHD

Famous Scientists Who Had ADHD

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, or ADHD, is a disorder that affects millions of people worldwide.....