Adult Attention Deficit Disorder (adult ADD) is a condition that can have several symptoms including lack of concentration, disorganization, mood swings, outbursts, and anxiety. Many adults don’t realize they have the condition because they believe that only children or teenagers can have ADD or ADHD. However, approximately 3 percent of adults in the United States have ADD and their symptoms can range from relatively mild to severely life-impacting.
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ADHD/ADD Symptoms and Diagnosis
Those with adult ADD often attribute their symptoms to anxiety or depression or tend to think they are just scatterbrained or have problems with focus or concentration. This is especially common in adults who were not diagnosed with ADD as a child. Though they have likely had the condition since the time they were young, many adults went through their school years undiagnosed and never realized their learning and socialization problems were due to this condition. Even those who were diagnosed in childhood may believe that they outgrew the condition and do not consider the possibility that they have carried the condition into their adult years.
Getting a diagnosis of adult ADD is important so that it can be properly treated by professionals who are knowledgeable about the condition. Though it can negatively impact an individual’s life, adult ADD is very treatable with therapy, counseling, medication, or a combination of treatments. Many of those with adult ADD benefit from talking with a professional and caring therapist or counselor in addition to taking stimulant, non-stimulant, and anti-depressant medication that helps them cope with their condition.
Common Stimulant Medications
Short-acting stimulants must be taken every 3-6 hours and include drugs such as Adderall, Dexedrine, Focalin, Methylin, and Ritalin. Long-acting stimulants include the drugs Adderall XR, Concerta, Evekeo, Ritalin LA, Vyvanse, and Focalin XR and must be taken every 6-8 hours. Stimulants are effective treatments in about 70 percent of adult ADD cases. They are especially effective for treating hyperactivity, increasing attention span and focus, and improving interpersonal interaction.
Side effects of both short-acting and long-acting stimulants can be a loss of appetite, weight loss, sleep problems, and irritability. There is also worry that stimulants that are amphetamines or methylphenidates could cause heart attacks or psychiatric problems and they also carry the risk of addiction.
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Common Non-Stimulant Medications
Non-stimulants must be taken anywhere from every 6 hours to every 24 hours and include drugs like Catapres, Intuniv, Kapvay, and Strattera. These medications work by boosting the brain chemical called norepinephrine, which helps regulate mood, reduce hyperactivity, and increase attention span.
Side effects of these non-stimulant medications include fatigue, low blood pressure, dry mouth, dizziness, behavior problems, abdominal pain, headaches, and irritability. However, many doctors choose to prescribe non-stimulants over stimulants because they do not pose the same risk for addiction or abuse.
In some adult ADD cases, anti-depressants can effectively treat symptoms. Commonly prescribed anti-depressants include Aventyl, Pamelor, and Wellbutrin. These types of medications can boost levels of serotonin and dopamine in the brain and can increase attention span and lessen hyperactivity. However, many doctors find that they do not do so as well as many stimulants and non-stimulant ADD medications.
Common side effects of anti-depressants used to treat ADD include upset stomach, dizziness, elevated heart rate, anxiety, and fatigue. There is also an increased risk of suicide in those aged 18-24 who take these medications with the highest probability occurring in the first month or two of use.
How Do I Know If ADD Medication is Right For Me?
The only way to know if medication is the right choice for treating your adult ADD is to visit an ADD clinic in San Francisco and see a qualified doctor. Only after your condition is diagnosed and your doctor learns more about your specific symptoms and your history of treatment can he or she develop a customized plan to treat your condition.
In general, medication might be the right choice for you if:
You Have Already Tried Therapy or Counseling
The non-medication route of counseling or therapy should always be the first step in treating adult ADD. However, if you have already been diagnosed with the condition and have been attending therapy or counseling for several months and your condition has not significantly improved, your doctor may decide to add medication to your treatment plan.
You Do Not Have a History of Drug Abuse
Those individuals suffering from adult ADD who also have a history of drug abuse or addiction may not be good candidates for medical treatments. Many drugs used to treat adult ADD, especially those in the stimulant category, can be addictive and should not be used for those who have a history of addiction.
You Are Willing to Try Different Types of Medications
Medications for adult ADD are not a magic bullet and while some work wonders for specific individuals, others may find no benefits at all or will find the side effects to be too much to take. It may take some time and patience to figure out which drug is right for your condition and you may experience some negative side effects along the way.
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How Can I Find the Right ADD/ADHD Clinic in San Francisco?
One of the most important choices you can make when it comes to treating your adult ADD is finding a clinic that can effectively treat your condition. When looking for an ADD/ADHD clinic in San Francisco, you should find one that has knowledgeable doctors on staff who have been treating adult ADD patients for several years. You should also look for a clinic that creates customized treatment plans that are developed in partnership with their patients. The right clinic will have multiple treatment options including counseling, therapy, and prescription medications.
If you have symptoms of ADD/ADHD and would like to speak to a professional to see if you have the condition or if you have already been diagnosed and would like to speak to a doctor about treatment options, please reach out to EZCare Clinic for more information or schedule your appointment today.