L22 — June 2011 — Adult ADD
Intro: Difficulty staying on task, being easily distracted, constantly losing things and never finishing projects. All are telltale signs of adult attention-deficit disorder. Lots of people think they may have adult ADD, but sometimes symptoms are the result of other issues. Let's go to Mayo Clinic to find out more about adult ADD.
I've always had issues with concentration.
Lydia Gammell has adult attention-deficit disorder, or ADD.
When you have ADD, sometimes it's overwhelming.
Her symptoms are classic. She'd start one task, get distracted. Start another, get distracted. And another.
You end up with a lot of started projects and nothing gets finished.
Lydia's symptoms began to disrupt life at home and at work. That's when she went to Mayo Clinic for help.
The notion of adult-onset ADD is a bit of a misnomer. The diagnostic criteria for ADD require the onset somewhere prior to age 12.
Dr. Glenn Smith says to have ADD as an adult, you have to have had it as a child.
So people who come and say I have new attention problems that started only after age 20, we need to investigate further.
Because it could be something like a mood disorder, depression or even sleep deprivation. Lydia can trace her symptoms to childhood. Her treatment is twofold — the first is behavior modification. She's devised routines to help keep organized. For example:
When I do laundry I dump it on my bed to fold, and that means I have to fold the laundry and put it away before I go to bed.
And she color-codes everything. Her craft room.
I do make lists, sometimes I forget where I put them.
She even color-coded her kids.
My oldest son, Joshua — his colors were black and blue.
Justin wears earth tones. Andrew's green, and Alex wears reds.
And it's the colors that they like.
Being organized and not taking on too much at one time helps keep Lydia focused.
You have to figure out what's really bothering you, figure out a solution, and turn it into a routine so it happens automatically.
Lydia also takes prescription stimulant medication. You might wonder how a stimulant helps keep you focused. Dr. Smith says the theory behind these drugs is this: One of the tasks of the frontal area of your brain is to determine what to focus on and when to act. Like a circuit breaker, it blocks out distraction and suppresses impulses to act without thinking. Stimulant medication works by activating this area of the brain, increasing the blocking activity, which helps you stay focused.
For me it works.
Lydia will likely have to deal with symptoms of ADD for the rest of her life. But thanks to treatment and effort on her part, that life is happy and full.
For Medical Edge, I'm Vivien Williams.
Antidepressant medications are also sometimes prescribed for ADD.
Dr. Smith says adult ADD affects approximately 3 percent of the population, and it can be hereditary. If you suspect you might have it and it's disrupting your life, see your health care provider. That way you can find out the underlying cause of your symptoms and get the help you need.
For more information, visit our website at…
STATIONS: Per the licensing agreement, please provide a link from your station's website to http://www.MayoClinic.org or voice tag "MayoClinic.org" for more information.