Adult Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: Underdiagnosed, Undertreated

By Comings, E. | Nutrition Health Review, Summer 1992 | Go to article overview

Adult Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: Underdiagnosed, Undertreated


Comings, E., Nutrition Health Review


William Collins is 35 years old. He has been married and divorced three times. He has difficulty keeping a job. Minor things irritate him; he loses his temper and impulsively makes remarks that get him into trouble. Such constant, irritability has cost him 20 jobs and three marriages. At times he has been so angry that he stalks his wife, and whenever he loses his temper with his boss, he gets fired. The excuse he tells people is that he became bored with the job and quit. None of his jobs has ever amounted to much anyhow because he has trouble concentrating on work. People constantly remind him to pay attention because he forgets easily. Because of this he did poorly in school and hated every minute of it. His teachers thought he was either "slow" or "lazy" or "unmotivated," and they all thought his major problem was "poor self-esteem." As a teenager he found himself drinking to excess, and the only time he ever felt "normal" was when a friend gave him some "speed" (amphetamines).

Bill blamed his problems on his parents. His father was chronically unemployed, alcoholic, and his mother was always depressed and suffered many anxiety attacks. The therapist Bill consulted after his second divorce reinforced the tendency to blame his parents by claiming his problem came from a dysfunctional family and that he could never learn adequate coping skills. At one point the therapist wondered whether his anger wasn't the result of sexual abuse so early in life that he could not remember. However, despite a year in therapy, his behavior did not change. Bill came to believe that nothing would ever be better for him.

Bill's problems are not the result of dysfunctional family or sexual abuse. He has a genetic disorder that caused a chemical imbalance in his brain that interferes with how his brain works. He has adult attention deficit disorder with hyperactivity (ADHD). Ironically, it is a very treatable disorder. But because it was never diagnosed, Bill in essence lost the first third of his life. Bill is not alone.

ADHD in Children

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, commonly known as ADHD, is the most common behavioral disorder of childhood. It occurs in 4 to 8 percent of boys and 2 to 5 percent of girls. It was first described in the early part of this century and was initially thought to be the result of some type of brain damage, thus the name minimal brain damage, or MBD. By the 1960s, it had become clear that only a minority of children had any evidence of brain damage and the name was changed to "hyperkinetic syndrome" or "hyperactivity."

In 1980, with the publication of the third edition of the psychiatric bible, the Diagnostic and Statistical Journal of Mental Disorders (DSM-III), the name was changed again to Attention Deficit Disorder, or ADD. This correctly emphasized that the major problem distinguishing these children from their peers was an inability to pay attention, especially in a crowded, noisy classroom. In 1987, when the DSM-III was revised, the name was changed again to Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder-ADHD.

It is a common misperception that children with ADHD always grow out of it by the time they are adults. This is incorrect. Approximately 50 percent of the time the symptoms persist into adulthood. However, the diagnosis is often missed for three reasons:

First, the symptoms of motor hyperactivity tend to disappear as children grow older. As a result, affected adults appear more normal, in that they are not constantly running around like most children with ADHD. However, they are still restless inside and have great difficulty sitting still for very long.

Second, adults are no longer in school and it is in school that ADHD subjects have the most difficulty. For example, if a person with ADHD, who was unable to sit still and concentrate in class, takes a job outside as a construction worker or a salesman, the restless need to be in constant activity may be perceived as an advantage rather than a disadvantage. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Adult Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: Underdiagnosed, Undertreated
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.