Are you easily distracted? Do you have trouble finishing tasks? A growing number of adults are discovering that Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is not just a problem for children. According to Dr. Adler, about 4.4 percent of the U.S. adult population, or roughly 8 million adults, has adult ADHD, and about four in five are diagnosed. Dr. Oz talks to ADHD expert Dr. Lenard Adler about the diagnosis and treatment of the disorder.
Causes: Dr. Adler says ADHD is due primarily to low levels of two neurotransmitters in the prefrontal area of the brain. It is a lifetime disorder—the roots of ADHD are always in childhood, which may or may not continue through adulthood.
Symptoms: Dr. Adler explains there are three subtypes of ADHD: Inattentive, hyperactive/impulsive, and combined. Inattentive symptoms include trouble remembering things, trouble planning, forgetfulness, not listening to what's been said, procrastination and trouble with task completion. Hyperactive/impulsive symptoms include talking out of turn, interrupting others when speaking, restlessness and trouble waiting.
Diagnosis: Dr. Adler says the only way to get a diagnosis is to sit down with your physician and talk about your symptoms and how they affect you. ADHD sufferers not only exhibit symptoms, they also experience impairment due to those symptoms and have trouble in two out of three main areas of their life, which are school/work, home and social settings. Everyone exhibits some of the symptoms from time to time, he adds. "If they're not causing difficulty for you, it's not a disorder," he says.
Treatment: Dr. Adler says ADHD can be treated safely and effectively with proper diagnosis and care. Medication may be used as a treatment for ADHD, but Dr. Adler says they provide only the tools for you to make changes in your life. Complementary treatments include psychotherapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, life coaching, diet (essential fatty acids may alleviate some imbalances), acupuncture and exercise (endorphins seem to help). Massage, meditation and yoga can also help reduce anxiety.