ADHD in Adults - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

ADHD in Adults

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We commonly learn of children battling attention deficit disorder, ADD or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, ADHD but the disorders also strike millions of adults too.

Many people find themselves feeling "scatter-brained", as they try to balance life in this busy, fast paced society of cell phones, social networking, and the internet.

In a special report, we ask the experts about Adult on set ADHD. Is it real?

Here's what we learned.

Forgetful, distracted, disorganized, depressed.  These are some of the characteristics of AHDH in adults.  Don't they sound so common?

 Psychiatrists say technically to be diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder you have to have had symptoms by age seven. However.

Dr. Rachel Fargason of UAB's Department of Psychiatry says, "Many people who have higher levels of intelligence are diagnosed later and later."

Fargason says, "The symptoms were probably present. Just because you're not diagnosed doesn't mean you don't have it."

Katy Goodgame is a disability specialist at Jacksonville State University.

She's qualified to administer the Thomas Brown ADD rating scale for adults.

The scale is a questionnaire of 40 symptoms which can indicate possible ADD/ADHD.

Goodgame says, "You answer it, when I ask you the question, is this something that occurs everyday, once a week, twice a week, or never occurs."

Goodgame works with people who went undiagnosed with ADD/ADHD until adulthood.

She says, "It's not a lack of will power. It's a problem. It's not something you can control. It's a chemistry in the brain."

30 year old, Deborah Pugatch, an ABC 33/40 news producer volunteered to undergo the ADHD scale because since high school she's always... Well, we'll let her tell it.

Deborah Pugatch says, 'It's little things that I forget or I get stressed over a lot of little things... cause my mind is racing 90 to nothing."

Goodgame continues rating scale. "Number 29 says frequently feels discouraged, distressed... Or down, she said.

At work, Pugatch doesn't struggle; at home is another story for the single working mom.

Pugatch says as she's gotten older, she has a job, her son, Tyler. She's realizing it more now she says because there are more things she can forget.

Goodgame tells Pugatch, "You've probably always had it, Its not something that just comes, you were born with it."

Mental health experts agree, that as life becomes complex and demanding, coping skills get maxed out and ADHD reveals its challenges in adulthood-- for example, with time management, and short term memory.

Meantime, Pugatch says, " I do not like how I'm scoring."

Bear in mind, experts say, there are different conditions that can cause ADHD-like symptoms in adults.  For women, age and estrogen play a major role.

Dr. Fargason says, "Women go through hormonal fluxes at various times in their lives... premenstrual period post partum. During that time that's a shift and stress in symptoms somebody who's barely coping with ADHD symptoms worsen and the symptoms may make them unable to cope and at that point present them to treatment for a diagnosis."

To be diagnosed with the condition, mental health experts also look at a person's history, physical exam and psychological tests.

Treatment may include medication and behavioral therapy.

Helpful coping skills include: Using your support system, having a place for everything and putting everything in its place, developing a routine, no procrastinating.

Deborah Pugatch is waiting for results of her rating scale.