ADHD, an acronym for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder , is a behavioral condition characterized by :

  • a low level of attention, inadequate for development
  • age-inappropriate aspects of hyperactivity and impulsivity.

Inattention and hyperactivity may be present at the same time although in some cases only one of the two conditions is encountered [1].
Although ADHD is considered a purely childhood disorder, in recent years the belief that this disorder can also affect the adult population has increasingly strengthened.
Numerous scientific studies have confirmed this hypothesis [2]. Despite the growing evidence, there is still much debate in the scientific community regarding this nosological entity.
In 90% of children with ADHD, the symptoms persist in some way even into adulthood. [3] The symptomatological picture in the adult, however, tends to change.
Hyperactivity in adults is expressed through:

  • excessive restlessness
  • an inability to sit for a long time
  • the choice of jobs that require a great deal of energy
  • the planning of an excessive number of commitments.

Impulsivity turns into:

  • instability of relationships, both personal and work
  • inability to modulate anger and impatience.

Typically these adults act without thinking and are constantly looking for strong emotions. [4] This relational instability leads to an increased divorce rate and difficulties in the parental role. [5]
Inattention in adults is manifested by:

  • easily distracted
  • disorganization and inability to manage time (they are the classic “chronic latecomers”)
  • tendency to get bored easily, from the inability to organize time

On the other hand, some adults with ADHD are extremely rigid, workaholic and pathologically perfectionists. [4].
Driving problems and poor work performance are common in young adults with ADHD (these individuals tend to be fired more frequently) [6].
The prevalence of ADHD in the pediatric population is approximately 5.29%; in adults, on the other hand, it is currently estimated at between 2% and 5%. [6]
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity / Impulsivity Disorder appears to be a far from infrequent pathology. This pathology, still little known by most professionals and underestimated in the context of adult psychiatry, appears to have a heavy impact on the subject’s quality of life.
[1] H. Kaplan, B. Sadock e J. Grebb, Psichiatria – Manuale di scienze del comportamento e psichiatria clinica, Baltimore, Maryland, USA: Centro Scientifico Internazionale, 1997.
[2] R. Barkley, «Advances in the diagnosis and subtyping of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder: what may lie ahead for DSM-V,» Revista de Neurologia, vol. 48, n. Suppl 2, pp. S101-S106, 2009.
[3] J. M. E. F. S. Biederman, «Age-dependent decline of symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder: impact of remission definition and symptom type.,» Am J Psychiatry, pp. 157: 816-818, 2000.
[4] S. Kooij, S. Bejerot, A. Blackwell, H. Caci, M. Casas-Brugue, P. Carpentier, D. Edvinsson, J. Fayyad, F. K. e e. al., «European consensus statement on diagnosis and treatment of adult ADHD: The European Network Adult ADHD,» BMC Psychiatry, vol. 10, p. 67, 2010.
[5] L. Eakin, K. Minde, L. Hechtman, E. Ochs, E. Krane, R. Bouffard, B. Greenfiels e K. Looper, «The marital and family functioning of adults with ADHD and their spouses,» J Atten Disord, vol. 8, pp. 1-10, 2004.
[6] S. Kooij, Adult ADHD. Diagnostic assessment e treatment. Third edition., London: Springer, 2013.

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