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#5 May 2023: Who Says You Can't Teach Our Brain New Tricks? - "Do you have ADHD?"

This blog is being written and monitored by Dr. Sharon Kochlany (one of the LCWA board members) who is an expert in cognitive training and executive function. She is an executive function coach and a Play Attention Certified Provider. Each week, she will share another tip to improve your cognitive skills. The brain at any age can improve. Research is now showing that many adults have ADHD. These adults went throughout school without ever being diagnosed. Many of these blogs will revolve around Adult and child ADHD as many of us have grandchildren or children with ADHD as well. Those who have ADHD have weaknesses in executive function and therefore this will be another area of brain processing that will be covered.

Come back each month to become more aware of what you can do so that you can ward off mental decline. I am going to separate these discussions each month as they are getting a little tedious to read in one blog discussion. Feel free to contribute to the blog as well. Writing can help executive function. Post your questions as well.

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Month of May, 2023

Do you have ADHD?

Studies show that if your child or grandchildren have ADHD, there's a 50% likelihood that one of his or her parents or grandparents does as well. The term ADHD and its treatments were not very well known when seniors were growing up. There are many seniors who are ADHD, but were never diagnosed, and are now struggling with executive function weaknesses.

Many seniors assume that their failing memory, disorganization, and lack of focus are due to aging and possible Alzheimer's Disease never thinking that they might have ADHD. Declining brain function and ADHD symptoms are often synonymous. Having ADHD is not a terminal disease. Executive function weaknesses associated with aging and/or ADHD can be addressed and cognitive skills can be strengthened.

The blogs for the next few months will feature articles on adult ADHD and/or the aging brain. There are so many of us seniors suffering with it unknowingly. It is important to understand it so that an action plan can be developed and everyday living can improve. You may exhibit some of the symptoms of ADHD due to the natural aging process without actually having ADHD. These blogs and articles will be of great benefit to you as well.

The following article will help you to understand ADHD and it will provide some answers to questions you might have about your own brain. Adult ADHD symptoms include difficulty with time management, memory, organization, emotional regulation, and more. Do any of these symptoms strike a cord? Then be sure to read this article and future blog postings.

Adult ADHD: A Guide to Symptoms, Signs,and Treatments

Updated on January 20, 2023

Adult ADHD: Overview

Adult attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD or ADD) is a neurological disorder that affects an estimated 4. percent of U.S. adults, and is more commonly diagnosed in men (5.4%) than in women (3.2%)1. ADHD in adults is characterized by a persistent pattern of inattention, hyperactivity, and/or impulsivity that interferes with and imp work, home life, and relationships – especially if left untreated.

ADHD was historically considered a childhood condition, but it is now recognized as a lifelong condition that persis well into adulthood. Persistence rates, however, vary, ranging from 6%1 to 30%2 and perhaps even higher.3

Individuals with ADHD may receive a diagnosis in childhood or well into adulthood. Trends show a rise in rates of ADHD diagno among U.S. adults in the last decade.4

Still, many adults with ADHD never receive a diagnosis in their lifetimes. Scientists believe ADHD is significantly underdiagnosed in adults.5

What Does ADHD Look Like in Adults?

ADHD or ADD symptoms in adults broadly resemble the common signs of childhood ADHD. However symptomintensity — especially hyperactivity — is known to decrease over time for many individuals.6

What are Common Adult ADHD Symptoms?


  • Poor attention to detail

  • Difficulty getting started and completing tasks

  • Difficulty focusing and regulating attention

  • Forgetfulness

  • Poor time management, organizational skills

  • Impulsivity

    • Fidgeting

    • Restlessness

    • Interrupting frequently

    • Talking excessively

  • Emotional dysregulation

  • Low frustration tolerance

Challenges Associated with Adult ADHD

Adult ADHD impacts virtually every aspect of life, more so if the condition remains undiagnosed, untreated, or ineffectively treated – all of which can have detrimental effects on an individual’s psychological well-being and quality of life.6

Adult ADHD Impact on School and Work Performance

Adult ADHD symptoms like poor time management and concentration, procrastination, and forgetfulness can and domake school and the workplace difficult to navigate. Many studies have linked ADHD to difficulties in school (including higher education) and in the workplace.7 Individuals with ADHD are more likely to face difficulty gaining and maintaining employment compared to neurotypical adults, especially if they did not receive treat

ment in childhood.8

Adult ADHD Impact on Relationships

ADHD symptoms in adults like poor listening skills, low frustration tolerance, inability to follow through with tasks,and impulsivity can lead to a number of difficulties with romantic relationships, friendships, familial relationships, and other social connections.5

Adult ADHD Impact on Criminality and Safety

Research has linked ADHD in adults to criminality, rule-breaking, and other legal and safety issues – including greater risk of getting into car accidents compared to the general population.9 One study found that individuals who present ADHD symptoms in childhood are more likely to engage in criminal activities as young adults than are non-ADHD individuals.10 Another recent systematic review estimates that 26% of prison inmates have adult ADHD.11

Adult ADHD Impact on Substance Abuse

ADHD and substance abuse are strongly connected. ADHD adults are twice as likely to be diagnosed with substance use disorder (SUD) compared to individuals without ADHD.12 Many adults with ADHD and SUD report using substances like alcohol and other drugs as a way to self-medicate and manage ADHD symptoms.13

Adult ADHD and Comorbid Conditions

Adult ADHD seldom exists alone. Roughly 60% to 70% of adults with ADHD have a comorbid disorder.14 According to a 2006 national study on adult ADHD1:

About 40% have been diagnosed with a mood disorder.

Nearly 50% have been diagnosed with anxiety disorder, including social phobia (30%) and PTSD (12%)

About 15% also have a substance use disorder diagnosis

The following table from expert William Dodson, M.D., shows how childhood symptoms of ADHD can translate to adulthood.

If you think you might have adult ADHD, take this free, anonymous ADHD symptom test for adults.

Adult ADHD: Causes

What causes ADHD? It’s not entirely clear, but most research suggests these main factors:

  • Genetics or Heredity: ADHD is a highly heritable condition. Approximately half of parents with ADHD will have a child with the condition.6 Recent genetics research also points to several markers that appear to be associated with ADHD development.15

  • Environmental Factors: Studies suggest that exposure to extreme stress, trauma, or certain toxins – like lead16or bisphenol-A17 –increase the risk or severity of ADHD symptoms.

  • Disruption of Development: Brain injury18 or events that affect the central nervous system dur

ing development,like preterm birth19 or alcohol use during pregnancy,20 may have a major role in ADHD development.

ADHD is not a result of poor diet, inadequate exercise, excessive screen time, or socioeconomic factors – though some of these factors and other stressors may worsen ADHD symptoms in some individuals. And while widely considered achildhood condition, researchers continue to explore whether ADHD onset can occur in adulthood.21

Adult ADHD Diagnosis

Healthcare providers use symptom criteria from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V) to establish an adult ADHD diagnosis.22 The DSM-5 lists nine symptoms that suggest predominantly inattentive ADHD(often called ADD), and nine separate symptoms that suggest predominantly hyperactive-impulsive ADHD.

An adult can be diagnosed with either ADHD subtype — or Combined Type ADHD — if they exhibit at least five of the nine symptoms in two or more settings – at work and at home, for example – for at least six months.

An adult ADHD symptom assessment often includes the following with a clinician experienced in adult ADHD:

A medical exam to rule out other commonly related conditions (see comorbid conditions above)

  • A clinical interview to gather information about family medical and symptom history, especially in childhood

  • ADHD rating scales completed by the adult and/or those known to them to assess symptoms, strengths, and weaknesses

A complete assessment may take several visits and/or visits with an ADHD specialist.

Adult ADHD Treatment

The best treatment for adult ADHD is a combination of therapy and medication.23 24 Adults should expect to work closely with their physicians to adjust medication and dosage, and to find the right ADHD treatment combination to alleviate symptoms.

Adult ADHD Medication

There are two main types of medication used to treat ADHD:

  • Stimulants

  • Non-stimulants

Stimulant Medications for Adult ADHD

Stimulants are considered first-line pharmacological treatment for adult ADHD25, and fall into two major categories:

  • Methylphenidates (Ritalin, Concerta, Daytrana, etc.)

  • Amphetamines (Adderall, Vyvanse, Evekeo, etc.).

All stimulant medications are different forms of these two types of medication.

Non-stimulant Medications for Ad

ult ADHD

Several types of non-stimulants (considered second-line treatments) are used to treat ADHD.

  • FDA-approved non-stimulant medications, like Strattera or Intuniv, were specifically designed to treat ADHD.

  • Other non-stimulant medications are used “off-label” to address ADHD symptoms. These include clonidine for ADHD, Wellbutrin for ADHD, blood pressure medications, or wakefulness-promoting medications.Physicians turn to these medications when other ADHD treatment is not effective because they have similar mechanisms of action in the body as some ADHD medications.

Adult ADHD Therapy

Most adults experience symptom reduction with ADHD medication, but many continue to struggle with work, day-to-day responsibilities, or low self-esteem due to a lifetime with attention deficit disorder. ADHD medication can regulate the brain neurologically. Psychotherapy or profession

al guidance can organize and motivate adults with ADHD to address specific challenges through conditioning. Common ones include:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)

  • Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT)

  • ADHD or life coaching

These therapies and interventions, combined with education about ADHD, can help adults recognize the places where ADD symptoms are causing difficulty in their lives and work to change negative patterns

Lifestyle Changes and Natural Remedies for Adult ADHD

Environmental factors play a big role in the severity of ADHD symptoms in adults. Adults with ADHD can positively impact their symptoms by modifying lifestyle factors like:

Sleep: Sleep problems are common among adults with ADHD. Adequate rest — 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night— has a positive effect on the ADHD brain and functioning, and can help with symptom management.26

  • Adult ADHD: AD

D Symptoms, Diagnosis & Treatment 5/6

  • Exercise: Studies show that exercise has a positive impact on ADHD brains and can help with reducing symptoms.27 28 Mindfulness and meditation activities can also help with symptom regulation.29

  • Diet: Everyone benefits from a healthy diet, and that includes adults with ADHD, many of whom self-report better symptom management by maintaining a balanced diet.

  • Supplements: Iron, zinc, and magnesium are often naturally low in people with ADHD. Many ADHD individuals take these as supplements, though research on the benefits are inconclusive.30 Melatonin can also help with sleep difficulties. There are also a wide variety of natural remedies for ADHD that may help to alleviate symptoms.

Month of May, 2023


What is ADHD? ADHD is one of the most common psychiatric conditions ADHD is commonly defined as a childhood-onset neurodevelopmental condition characterized by a persistent pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity that interferes with functioning or development. It often carries on into adulthood. 65% of diagnosed children continue to have ADHD as adults.

There are three commonly diagnosed types of ADHD: Predominantly inattentive: Difficulty paying attention, forgetful, or

easily distracted Predominantly hyperactive-impulsive type: Fidgety, talkative, impatient behavior Combined (inattentive/hyperactive-impulsive ADHD): Shows symptoms of both

A family history of ADHD increases your risk The exact cause of ADHD is still unknown. While environmental factors such as low birth weight, delivery complications, and ex

posure to toxins have been identified as potential causes, the biggest factor is genetic. You have an estimated 75-90% chance of having ADHD if a member of your family has it

ADHD INTO ADULTHOOD ADHD is a 24/7 disorder that often sticks around into adulthood Can you outgrow ADHD? It is widely accepted that ADHD is more common than previously thought; up to 65% of patients with childhood ADH

D continue to have difficulties in adulthood. Did you know ADHD is now recognized as one of the most common psychiatric diagnoses in adults with a prevalence of approximately 5% in the US? That’s about 10 million diagnosed adults ADHD symptoms often look different in adults than children While symptoms of ADHD are the same throughout your life, they look different in adulthood. Many adults with ADHD are less likely to exhibit obvious hyperactive/impulsive symptoms. It is often more inattentive symptoms instead, especially in adult females.


Many adults with ADHD remain undiagnosed Just because you weren’t diagnosed as a kid, doesn’t mean you don’t have ADHD Sometimes ADHD symptoms are overlooked in childhood, leading to a missed diagnosis. Knowing what symptoms to look for as an adult is key. Do any of the following sound familiar to you? ADHD symptoms of inattention in adults

  • Careless mistakes: Do you have difficulty with detail, overlooking or missing mistakes at work? Or do you often get lost in the details?

  • Focus: Do you find it hard to focus during work, in conversations, or while reading something lengthy?

  • Poor listener: Are you often perceived

as someone who doesn’t pay attention in conversations, even without any obvious distractions?

  • Following direction: Do you find that you fail to complete tasks at work or at home? Or do you tend to start a task and become easily side-tracked?

  • Staying organized: Do you struggle to stay organized at work or at home? Is time management or missing deadlines an issue for you?

  • Sustained interest: Do you struggle with tasks that require continued mental effort like completing forms or reviewing lengthy documents? Do you sometimes avoid those tasks? Or find that you will hyper focus on the wrong tasks?

  • Misplacing items: Do you often forget or misplace items of importance like your phone, wallet, or keys?

  • Easily distracted: Does your mind wander or drift to unrelated thoughts? Do you often find you have multiple thoughts at once or jump from thought to thought spontaneously?

  • Forgetful: Do you often forget to get back to people, or miss a bill or appointment?

ADHD symptoms of hyperactivity/impulsivity

  • Fidgety: Are you often tapping your hands or feet or find yourself unable to sit still?

  • Staying seated: Do you often find yourself wandering around when you should be at your desk, in a meeting, or seated at a social event?

  • Restlessness: Are excessive movement or feelings of restlessness an issue in your day to day? Is it hard to relax or do you struggle with sleep?

  • Being quiet: Is it hard for you to quietly engage in leisure activities?

  • Staying still: Are you often impulsively “on

the go,” finding it uncomfortable to be still for an extended period of time at work or in a social setting like a movie? Have you ever been described as hard to keep up with?

  • Talkative: Do you find yourself talking excessively or too loudly at times?

  • Interrupting: Do you sometimes blurt out an answer before a question is even completed, or find yourself finishing people’s sentences?

  • Waiting your turn: Do you struggle with waiting in line or waiting for your turn at something?

  • Intruding on others: Do you ever interrupt conversations or find yourself taking over what others are doing without asking? Do you do these things impulsively?

Combined (inattentive/hyperactive-impulsive ADHD) Do you show symptoms of both inattentive ADHD and hyperactive-impulsive ADHD? See yourself in 5 or more symptoms in either of these categories? Consider talking to your doctor

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