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Recognizing ADHD symptoms in adults

June 2, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
With about 8-percent of U.S. children being diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, parents across the nation are on the lookout for symptoms. Sadly, those parents often fail to recognize the same problem in themselves. Melody Bakeeff keeps her life in order by using calendars and lots of stickers. But a year ago, she was at the breaking point. She was unable to focus and organize business files on the computer.

In between play-days with daughter Ana were a haze of work and family problems -- even talk of divorce.

"This should not be this hard," said Bakeeff.

A therapist suggested Bakeeff may have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

"I was like, 'Wow, that's it.' It was crazy," said Bakeeff.

Studies show more than 4-percent of U.S. adults have ADHD, which translates in to some 10 million people. But less than 25-percent are aware of their condition.

"It's a great thing once it's diagnosed and treated," said James West, Total Life Counseling.

That's because untreated adults have a 300-percent higher rate of substance abuse than others. They also have difficulty staying employed and maintaining relationships. Experts say if you deal with these issues all the time, you may have ADHD, and you need to get evaluated.

"You know, the earlier you diagnose ADHD, the better," said West.

For Bakeeff, that means medication and stripping sugars from her diet. Now, she can focus and organize her work.

"So, now I can sit down and say, 'I don't do things like everybody else, that's OK,'" said Bakeeff.

People with ADHD often have a "gap" in their social and emotional understanding. For instance, a 16-year-old with ADHD is more likely to act like a 12-year-old. That maturity gap typically catches up between 30 and 35 years of age, but experts say that delay can cause problems as adults.


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