As an adult, my occasional hyperactivity shows up as things like:
- fidgeting (e.g., bouncing my knee or feet, tapping my fingers on the table, wriggling in my seat)
- hyperverbalism (e.g., talking lots, fast, and loud without interruption; pressured speech)
- speedy movement (e.g., striding briskly or almost running down the hall in a business setting where slow walking is customary)
- restlessness (e.g., inability to stay seated in a meeting, reluctance to go to the movies or a lecture where I’ll be expected to stay in one place (seated!) for a long time)
- jumpy or jerky actions (e.g., leaping out of a chair when someone knocks at the door, uncoordinated sorting of physical objects (e.g., books) that ends up with things knocked down or spilled)
Other adults (but not me) see hyperactivity show up (or get resolved) in things like:
- clenched jaws, tooth grinding, and clenched stomach muscles that can occur when adults with ADHD attempt to suppress hyperactivity impulses
- a high need for action-oriented sports (e.g., running, tennis, etc.)
I wrote this post in reply to a question on Quora. See here for more answers: https://www.quora.com/As-an-adult-with-ADHD-do-you-still-have-the-hyperactivity-aspect
ADHD does not lead to other disorders, but other co-existing disorders can become worse if ADHD is untreated (and can be prevented or remedied if ADHD is treated).
In an article I’ll quote below, ADDitude magazine differentiates between “secondary conditions” (which abate or are prevented when ADHD is managed) and “co-morbid conditions” (which persist regardless of ADHD management.
Half of All People with ADHD / ADD Also Have Another Condition
Doctors once considered ADHD a standalone disorder. They were wrong. We now know that 50 percent of people with ADHD also suffer from one or more additional condition, most commonly:
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
- Oppositional defiant disorder (ODD)
- Learning disabilities
- Language disabilities
- Fine and gross motor difficulties
- Executive function difficulties
- Tic disorders
- Or another psychological or neurological problem
In some cases, these problems are “secondary” to ADHD — that is, they are triggered by the frustration of coping with symptoms of ADHD.
For example, a boy’s chronic lack of focus may trigger anxiety in school. Years of disapproval and negative feedback from family members may likewise cause a woman with undiagnosed ADHD to become depressed. Most of the time, secondary problems fade once the ADHD symptoms are brought under control.
When secondary problems don’t resolve with effective ADHD treatment, they are likely symptoms of a “comorbid” condition.
When It’s Not Just ADHD: Uncovering Comorbid Conditions
I wrote this post in reply to a question on Quora. See here for more answers:
Two things come to mind:
(1) Neurotypical people often don’t realize that people with ADHD have hyperfocus times as well as scattered-focus times. Thus, neurotypical people (e.g., parents (or bosses)) ask with frustration and anger, “how can you have ADHD?! I’ve seen you sit for hours playing a video game (or reading a reference book).” They don’t understand that ADHD is a challenge of attention control, rather than a “lack of attention ability.”
(2) Neurotypical people don’t notice that smart people with ADHD often live with a lot of shame because they “know” that they “should” be achieving more and doing better because they’re smart and have the ability to do high-quality work. A person with ADHD might be extremely productive one afternoon and feel like they should be that productive all the time. A student with ADHD might be told by a teacher or parent, “you’re so smart — you shouldn’t be making such bad grades,” because the teacher or parent doesn’t realize the challenges that the student has with things like remembering due dates or following detailed directions.
I wrote this post as a response to a question on Quora.com. See here for more responses: https://www.quora.com/What-are-some-of-the-biggest-unknown-ADHD-struggles-neurotypical-people-dont-think-know-about
ADD/ADHD diagnosis is officially performed by a licensed healthcare practitioner. (Unofficial diagnoses are also useful. See bottom.)
- In the US, psychologists (PhD or other degrees) are the most common diagnosticians
- Psychiatrists (medical doctors) and other therapists can also do a qualified diagnosis.
Treatment and management are typically a combination of the following:
- Prescription medications (e.g., Adderall, Ritalin, Vyvanse)
- Coaching (for work-practices, time-management practices, communication practices, etc.)
- Non-prescription supplements (e.g., Gingko biloba, fish oil, etc., (some of which have been shown to be effective))
- Other diet and fitness changes
- Situational and environmental changes (e.g., different careers, different working hours, assistive technologies, etc.)
- Support groups
Note that you don’t need an official diagnosis to start improving your life.
For example: if you read a book like Driven to Distraction and feel like you have most of the symptoms of adult ADD/ADHD, you can employ many of the recommended coaching and self-management practices. If they help you, great—life is better! Most support groups also welcome people without an official diagnosis. You can try supplements and diet/fitness changes to see if they help.
Official diagnoses are typically required before (a) a psychiatrist will prescribe certain medications or (b) an employer will provide workplace accommodations. But as I’ve written above, there’s much you can do for yourself beforehand or in tandem.
Phil Marsosudiro (for many free tips on managing ADD/ADHD at work, visit my website at www.adhd9to5.com)
I wrote this post as a response to a question on Quora.com. See here for more replies: https://www.quora.com/How-is-ADHD-or-ADD-diagnosed-and-treated-in-adults