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Adult ADHD

Attention Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a condition with onset at age prior to 12 years, and is characterized by dysfunctional levels of inattention, disorganization, and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity. It is most often identified during childhood but some people may not become aware of it until early adulthood. An adult with ADHD may continue to experience symptoms involving inattention, restlessness and impulsivity, although the manifestation of hyperactivity may have diminished. Some of them may experience mood swings and short-fuse temper outbursts. ADHD can affect a person's occupational functioning, where the person loses or changes jobs because of boredom or being sacked. Intimate relationship may be challenged as the person has difficulty listening to the partner with concentration and patience, and finishing but procrastinating tasks.

I happen to have seen a few adults with ADHD over the last few years. They usually come to a Clinical Neuropsychologist to -

  1. understand why they have been feeling restless and inattentive;

  2. facilitate the diagnostic workup by medical doctors, such as GPs, psychiatrists and neurologists;

  3. differentiate if they have ADHD or other conditions that also share symptoms of inattention, such as anxiety disorders, depressive disorders, bipolar disorder, autism spectrum disorder, etc.;

  4. perform a neurocognitive assessment on their cognitive strengths and weaknesses, including different types of attention, learning and memory, and executive functions. In addition to the purpose of self-understanding, some people need this assessment for various purposes, such as getting accommodations on examinations, facilitating enrolment into university, or proving their work capabilities to an authority, etc. The descriptions of ADHD symptoms, the differential diagnosis, and the cognitive strengths and weaknesses are normally required in a clinical psychology report for an individual with ADHD;

  5. plan for behavioural treatment to improve attention and concentration performance.

If you need only a medical diagnosis and/or pharmacological treatment, the best way is to consult a medical doctor, such as a psychiatrist or neurologist. Medication treatment is effective in about 70% of the patients (see review by Kooij, Bejerot, et al., 2010). Most of my patients reported improved concentration ability at work after starting medication.

Psychological management, as a supplement to pharmacological treatment, on the other hand, helps people to exercise a better time management, train concentration span, and deal with social and emotional difficulties arising from ADHD.


Kooij, S. J. J., Bejerot, S., Blackwell, A., Caci, H., Casas-Brugué, M., Carpentier, P., et al. (2010). European consensus statement on diagnosis and treatment of adult ADHD: The European Network adult ADHD. BMC Psychiatry, 10, 67.

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