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Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is commonly associated with children, but it can affect adults as well. It makes it hard for a person to focus and pay attention. Many adults have ADHD and don't know they have it. Like ADHD in children and teens, ADHD in adults can make life challenging. ADHD can make it hard for adults to feel organized, stick with a job, or get to work on time. Adults with ADHD may have trouble in relationships. The disorder can also make adults feel restless.

To be diagnosed with the condition, an adult must have ADHD symptoms that began in childhood and continued throughout adulthood. Health professionals use certain rating scales to determine if an adult has ADHD. The mental health professional also will look at the person's history of childhood behavior and school experiences, and will interview spouses or partners, parents, close friends, and other associates. The person will also have a physical exam and some psychological tests.

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ADHD in adults can be diagnosed and treated. Medication and therapy, alone or in combination, are used to treat ADHD. Treatments can relieve many of the disorder's symptoms, but there is no cure. For some adults, finding out they have ADHD can be a big relief. Being able to connect ADHD to longtime problems helps adults understand that they can get better. If you're an adult and think you may have ADHD symptoms, call your doctor.

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More information on attention deficit hyperactivity disorder

Explore other publications and websites

  • AD/HD and Adults (Copyright © Mental Health America) — Many symptoms of attention deficit hpyperactivity disorder (ADHD) can continue into adulthood. This publication discusses ADHD in adults, including information on symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment.
  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) — This detailed booklet describes the symptoms, causes, and treatments of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. It also provides information on getting help and coping.
  • Employees With Learning Disabilities (Copyright © Job Accommodation Network) — This publication provides basic information for employers on how to accommodate an employee with a learning disability. It also provides examples of workplace accommodations for employees with various types of learning disabilities.
  • NINDS Attention Deficit-Hyperactivity Disorder Information Page — This online publication explains ADHD, available treatments, prognosis, and current research being conducted.
  • NINDS Learning Disabilities Information Page — This online publication defines learning disabilities and provides information on treatment, prognosis, and current research. It also provides resources and organizations.

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Content last updated: March 29, 2010.

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