CHICAGO (CBS) — It’s a disability usually associated with children. But Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is not just a school-age issue anymore.
An increasing number of adults are getting the ADHD diagnosis. But confronting the disorder head-on can change lives, CBS 2’s Dana Kozlov reports.
Trouble focusing? Easily distracted restless? Do you daydream or have bouts of anxiety? Donna Tague says she experienced all of those issues and more.
Last summer, the 52-year-old lifelong Chicagoan was diagnosed with ADHD. She wasn’t surprised. Her 15-year-old son was diagnosed as a child, and Tague’s issues mirrored some of his.
The diagnosis was a relief of sorts, she says.
“It was a relief because it took away some of the feelings of guilt about my personality faults,” Tague says.
ADHD expert Mark Stein says the large number of new adult diagnoses is due partly to increased awareness that the disorder doesn’t just affect children. In fact, Stein says, one in 25 adults has ADHD, which is frequently found in other family members, too.
“It’s not just having the symptoms. It’s having symptoms that result in some impairment,” Stein says.
That impairment almost derailed Ruth Princess’s life.
“At one point things got so bad, I thought i had a stroke. I didn’t know what this was called,” the 47-year-old says, gesturing at one of her buttons.
Word recall wasn’t her only problem. She couldn’t find things and would lose total track of time. Since her diagnosis eight years ago, Princess has learned coping strategies such as setting a timer.
She attends support groups to keep working on ways to manage the disability.
“It’s not so much, ‘Oh, I have a disorder.’ It’s, ‘These are where my assets are; these are where my deficits are,’” Princess says.
Donna Tague is starting that journey now. She’s attacking it with a positive point of view.
“I would forget the thought about labeling. Labels will last for two minutes, but the help can change your whole life,” she says.
Dr. Stein points out that ADHD symptoms vary for different people. But if you are concerned, see your doctor to rule out other issues first. If more evaluation is needed, you’ll likely be referred to someone else for that.
Treatment includes counseling and lifestyle changes. Medication like Ritalin or Adderall may be prescribed. Stein says medication typically is more effective in children than in adults.