October is Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) Awareness Month.
A study in the Journal of Managed Care and Speciality Pharmacy found that nearly 9 million adults have ADHD in the U.S.
Adult Psychiatrist Dr. Asra Hamzavi of the Hamzavi Psychiatry and Wellness Center says more people are getting diagnosed than before.
“Its prevalence more than doubled between 2007-2016. And since then, there’s some statistics that are showing a quadruple increase in diagnosis,” she said, adding that many people began to inquire about whether they have ADHD during the pandemic when they lost the structure of work and school.
“Many people are walking around suspecting that they have ADHD, are very curious about the condition, or suspect their loved one or their other family member friends have it,” she said.
People with ADHD often have trouble with prioritizing, organization and motivation.
Hamzavi says people used to think only children have ADHD. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports 6 million children between the ages of 3-17 have been diagnosed.
“Most people think about ADHD as the second grader, a little boy who cannot sit in his seat and who’s, you know, jumping up and really difficult to manage in the classroom. That’s a sense of hyperactivity and restlessness that can be prevalent even in an adult,” she said.
However, Hamzavi says the diagnostic criteria for ADHD are not ideal for determining what hyperactivity or impulsivity looks like in an adult. She says some symptoms can be difficulty falling asleep, because their brain is still in overdrive.
“A lot of my patients will say things like: ‘I’ve had more thoughts before breakfast than most people have in their entire day.’ And so it’s just a very active mind,” she said,
Hamzavi says people can get clinically tested by a trained therapist, counselor, or psychiatrist. However, there isn’t a standard neuropsychological test and people don’t necessarily have to get tested to have it.
“The testing is often required to get accommodations at school, such as getting more time on exams, or even at work such as having some more support when a deadline needs to be met,” which those with ADHD often need, she said.
“It does often take a loved one, whether it’s a parent or a partner, to support that individual, so if they have trouble getting out the door to class, or to work, then it may be that somebody helping them along could be a tremendous asset for them,” she says.
She says it’s important to focus on what caregivers can offer as support and work with professionals to decide where to draw the line.
There are many ways for individuals with ADHD to manage their symptoms, she says, including with therapy, medicine, a proper diet and exercise. Getting enough sleep can also impact ADHD.