Adult ADHD: 10 signs you might have it

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PHOENIX -- When most people think of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, known as ADHD, they think of kids. ADHD is considered a childhood developmental problem, but it's not just kids who are affected.

"ADHD, if it's diagnosed in a child, it often extends into adulthood," Dr. Art Mollen explained Tuesday morning.

According to WebMD, that's exactly what happens in about 60 percent of children with ADHD. That's some 8 million adults, many of whom are not diagnosed or treated.

"In order for you, as an adult, to actually have ADHD, it has to have been diagnosed in childhood, and then it travels on," Mollen said. "It's not like anxiety of depression, where it's something that can develop in adulthood. It's something that actually started in childhood."

There are occasions, however, when ADHD has been missed in childhood.

"No question about it," Mollen said. "And sometimes it's over diagnosed in childhood. We see that quite often, [doctors] putting children on medications who perhaps should not be."

Symptoms of adult ADHD include trouble getting organized, reckless driving, marital troubles, extreme distractibility and poor listening skills.

"These are some of the most common symptoms," Mollen said.

Additional symptoms include restlessness or an inability to relax, trouble starting a task, chronic lateness, angry outbursts and trouble prioritizing.

These symptoms can range from mild to severe and can be constantly present or vary based on situational circumstances.

"There are a lot of symptoms, but they can be treated," Mollen continued. "It [adult ADHD] should be treated."

Some people might think of ADHD as simply a "label," but it's very real -- a disorder that can be categorically diagnosed based on standard criteria laid out in the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual-IV, Text Revision (DSM-IV-TR).

While it's not yet known exactly what causes ADHD, there is some thought that it starts in utero and that a baby's developing brain can be affected by the mother's use of alcohol, cigarettes or drugs. Doctors also have noted that there are "differences in function of some areas of the brain that affect attention and impulse control" in children diagnosed with ADHD.

Mollen went on to explain that the diagnosis of ADHD needs to come from a psychologist or a psychiatrist.

While there are several medications to treat ADHD, they can come with serious side effects, Mollen cautioned.

3TV's Kaley O'Kelley shared her own diagnosis with ADHD, saying the medications simply didn't work for her.

"I'll be vulnerable about it. ... Knowing what it was, it helped me to compartmentalize," O'Kelley said, explaining how she deals with her ADHD on a day-to-day basis. "It's not easy, but it's part of who I am."

Many doctors say behavioral treatment, which is often an integral part of treatment for young patients, can be quite effective for patients with adult ADHD.

If you think you might have ADHD based on the symptoms listed above, Mollen suggests you get a referral to a psychologist or a psychiatrist who can determine if you would benefit from treatment.

Mollen's practice is located at 16100 N. 71st St. in Scottsdale. For more information call 480-656-0016 or log on to