The most common problem with the diagnosis of ADD symptoms is the prevalent belief that its manifestation is limited only to a particular developmental stage—that is, during early childhood. But contrary to that belief, ADD symptoms can actually be manifested even later in life. But before anything else, how does the medical community define ADD?
ADD—or Attention Deficit Disorder—is a term often used interchangeably with ADHD or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. It is the most common learning disorder among children and is characterized by problems in attention, impulsivity, and hyperactivity. Severity of the two criteria often differs from person to person. Since it is a chronic condition, treatment aims not to treat the disorder but to lessen its impact on the individuals’ lives. But are there any differences between ADD symptoms in children and ADD symptoms in adults? Let’s take a closer look on each set of symptoms.
ADD Symptoms Observed in Children
After classifying ADD symptoms observed in children, three possible subtypes have emerged. The predominantly inattentive type are the ones who struggle with focusing their attention on one task; are easily distracted from their goals and often switch from one task to another; and often daydream and fail to attend to what is being said to them. On the other hand, the predominantly hyperactive-impulsive type often manifests ADD symptoms such as being excessively talkative and fidgety, often drawing attention other people’s attention to themselves; having trouble with keeping themselves still; and struggling to keep quiet whenever a task needs to be done. Some of them are also very much irritable and impatient, and often gets into trouble by saying things without any regard for its possible repercussions. The last subtype is a combination of the first two. However, in the absence of any significant interference with the children’s everyday functioning, these symptoms cannot be taken as red flags for ADD.
ADD Symptoms Observed in Adults
ADD symptoms in childhood most often persist way into adulthood. However, since many adults afflicted with ADD go on with their lives without undergoing any form of psychological or medical treatment, manifestation of adult ADD symptoms are often more severe, in terms of how they affect the individuals’ everyday lives. They are often disorganized and lead disruptive lifestyles. Also, they may resort to substance abuse to cope with their problems. In some cases, ADD in adults are coexistent—or comorbid—with other psychological disorders such as anxiety disorder and depression, which if left untreated, can lead to suicide. However, since symptoms of adult ADD are not yet considered any different from ADD symptoms in children, diagnosis still remain to be quite problem among clinicians, especially if the complications brought about by the disorder are somehow related to age. For example, if the treatment being prescribed by the clinician is not appropriate for the developmental stage that the individual is currently in, then the treatment might only be rendered ineffective. In a worst case scenario, the wrong kind of treatment might only aggravate the effects of the disorder.
How to Address ADD Symptoms
Two types of treatment may be used—individually or in conjunction with each other, depending on what the clinician prescribes—to treat ADD. One employs the biological approach, while the other utilizes a psychological approach. The biological approach involves the use of medication. Ritalin, a kind of a stimulant medication, is one of the most popularly administered treatments to ADD patients, although its usage entails potentially harmful consequences (i.e. it can put patients at risk of substance abuse). In some countries, use of medication is only encouraged in the most severe cases. Meanwhile, the psychological approach to treating ADD symptoms involves therapy such as cognitive behavioral therapy (a goal in mind is attained through some modification in one’s behavior), family therapy (wherein family members are directly involved in the process of treatment), and interpersonal therapy (individuals with ADD are made to interact with their fellows to get a better understanding of their problem and also to help one another). While behavioral therapies are proven to be more effective than using medications, some clinicians still recommend the use of both to compound their effects and to produce more promising and long-lasting results.
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The Truth about ADD Symptoms
While diagnosis still proves to be a tough feat among clinicians even at this age, you should not be worried. If you suspect that you or your loved one/s might be suffering from ADD, do not hesitate to consult a psychologist. Never let the stigma of psychological disorders get the better of you because if you let your symptoms pass, it could only get worse and cost you more than what you bargained for. Having ADD symptoms might sound like a scary deal at first, but with proper support and guidance from your family, friends, and doctors, you’ll surely find a way to manage it somehow.