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Adult Attention Deficit Disorder (adult ADD) is a condition that can have a number of 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.

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.

Medication Types for ADD/ADHD

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.

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.

Anti-Depressants

 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 age 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?

Side Effects of ADHD Drugs

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 a number of 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.

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 a number of 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.

Read more about adult ADD and ADHD

WebMD Guide to ADHD in Adults

HELP GUIDE

A trusted guide to mental & emotional health

Wikipedia: Adult attention deficit hyperactivity disorder


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Once thought to be a disorder affecting only children and teenagers, ADHD is now recognized as a treatable disorder for adults as well. Many of those who had ADHD as a child bring symptoms of the disorder into adulthood, though some may experience an evolution of symptoms that affect them differently as they age. If you believe you have adult ADHD in San Francisco, you likely have a number of questions. The knowledgeable experts at EZCare Clinic in San Francisco have compiled a list of frequently asked questions and their answers.

How Common is Adult ADHD?

Though different figures have been cited, most experts agree that adult ADD or adult ADHD affects anywhere from 3 to 4.4 percent of the adult population in the United States. In contrast, around 9.5 percent of children are diagnosed with adult ADD. This leads researchers to believe that more than half of those who have ADD as children either grow out of the disorder or are not re-diagnosed as adults.

How is Adult ADHD Different from Adult ADD?

ADHD stands for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and is the new name that is officially accepted for what was previously known as Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). The name was changed to reflect that hyperactivity is a major component in many cases of the disorder. However, many people still use the term ADD and both terms can be used interchangeably to describe the same condition.

How Can Adult ADHD Affect One’s Life?

Finding the right ADD doctor in SF

ADHD symptoms can range from relatively mild to incredibly disruptive. The following symptoms are common to the disorder:

Inability to concentrate

Many adults who suffer from ADHD cannot concentrate on tasks for a long period of time and this can lead to problems both at home and work. Projects that require focus are not easy for those with ADHD and this can lead to delayed or incomplete work. It can also lead to problems in relationships as those with ADHD may have a difficult time listening to and connecting with important people in their lives.

Mood swings

Though usually not as severe as the mood swings that accompany bipolar disorder, ADHD can come with the symptom of feeling on top of the world one minute and incredibly sad or angry the next. These mood swings can be difficult to navigate and often cause problems with colleagues, family members, and friends.

The difficulty with time management

While managing time effectively is second nature to most people, those with ADHD often have problems determining how long a project or activity will take and are frequently late to meetings and other predetermined activities. This can lead to late projects, missed opportunities, and reprimands at work for causing delays.

Impulsive behavior

Many with adult ADHD have difficulty fully thinking through decisions and how they will affect themselves and others. This can lead to impulsive behavior that is harmful to themselves, dangerous, or hurtful to others. Excessive spending, eating, drinking, or gambling are all dangers for those with ADHD.

Racing thoughts

A classic symptom of adult ADHD is racing thoughts that are difficult or impossible to control. These thoughts add to the lack of concentration that is already present with the disorder and can also lead to anxiety or excessive worry.

How is Adult ADHD Diagnosed?

Adult ADHD has many symptoms that can be confused with other disorders which can often make it difficult to diagnose. Other mental health issues and disorders should also be considered and tested for when an individual is seen by their doctor if they believe they have ADHD. For an official diagnosis to occur, an individual must exhibit multiple symptoms of the disorder that lead to significant problems in daily life that impact relationships, careers, or normal activities.

They must exhibit these symptoms for a minimum of six months before a diagnosis can be made. The symptoms must also be persistent, excessive, and continue to show up in different areas of a patient’s life. When making a diagnosis, a doctor will look at the sufferer’s environment, past history, symptoms, and medical records to make a proper diagnosis.

How is Adult ADHD Treated?

Get Your ADD/ADHD Evaluation in San Francisco

Once a diagnosis is made, those with adult ADHD can begin receiving treatment at a San Francisco ADHC clinic. Depending on the types of severity of their symptoms, their treatment plan may include one or a combination of the following:

  • Counseling – Speaking with a counselor who is familiar with ADHD and can provide support and coping strategies can be very effective for those who are newly diagnosed with ADHD. Many adult ADHD sufferers have felt there is something wrong with them their entire lives and have often been judged, criticized, and misunderstood. When a diagnosis is finally made, working through the emotions they feel with a counselor can help them adjust to their new reality.
  • Individual Therapy – Therapy is more intense than counseling and should be performed by a trained therapist who has worked with those with adult ADHD. One of the most common forms of therapy for those with ADHD is Cognitive Behavior Therapy or CBT. CBT works to retrain an individuals brain to recognize and change destructive thought patterns. Because one of the main symptoms of ADHD is racing thoughts and anxiety, CBT is often very effective in changing those thoughts that lead to negative emotions and undesired behaviors.
  • Group or Family Therapy – Many of those with adult ADHD find it therapeutic to meet in groups with others who suffer from the same condition. Learning how others cope with their symptoms and knowing they are not alone is usually a powerful treatment option. Other ADHD sufferers find it useful to meet with their therapist with members of their family, especially if there is tension in the household regarding the emotions or actions of the person with ADHD.
  • Medication  There are a number of stimulant, non-stimulant, and anti-depressant medications that can be used to treat ADHD symptoms. These can be used on their own but are most often paired with counseling or therapy to create an individualized treatment plan.

Do you believe you may suffer from adult ADHD or have you been recently diagnosed with the disorder and want to look into treatment options? Please visit EZCareClinic.com to learn more about what we do and reach out to speak with a professional about scheduling an appointment.


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