What are the causes of ADHD treatment

ADHD in adults

Causes & Symptoms

How does ADHD manifest itself in adults?

ADHD has only been perceived as an adult disease for a few years. It is assumed that in around 60 percent of the children affected, the disorder does not stop by the age of 18. The symptoms in adulthood, however, change in their nature and severity: for example, the motoric urge to move in children can give way to a constant inner restlessness in adults. On the other hand, reduced attention with disorganization, "procrastinating" or mood swings can become more relevant.

Whether ADHD needs treatment always depends on the individual suffering of the person affected. For some, it is already helpful to know about these relationships.

Causes: how does ADHD develop?

The causes of ADHD are not yet fully understood. However, it is considered proven that the disorder is due to genetic and environmental factors.

Genetic Influences

A pronounced familial accumulation can be observed in ADHD. If a member of the nuclear family has ADHD, the risk for the other members is up to five times higher. Many parents only discover the explanation for their own problems when their child attracts attention at school. In ADHD, a negative influence on neuronal systems, especially certain messenger substances, can also be determined. If their balance and function is disturbed, this can have far-reaching effects on the areas of concentration, memory and perception, but also on the ability to regulate emotions and control impulses. This often results in a lack of control over actions and impairments in self-organization.

Environmental influences

External risk factors include pregnancy and childbirth complications, low birth weight, infections and toxins such as alcohol or nicotine abuse, and diseases of the central nervous system. Severe neglect in early childhood can affect the severity and stability of symptoms and can contribute to aggressive, oppositional, and delinquent behavior.

ADHD symptoms: common signs of ADHD in adults

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is characterized by three core symptoms:

  • Attention disorder
    Tasks that require long-term concentration are poorly managed, especially if they seem uninteresting and arouse little curiosity. Boredom, abandonment and fatigue quickly develop. Since sensory impressions cannot be filtered and sorted well, those affected can quickly be distracted. Every detail seems equally important, you get lost in details. In general, those affected tend to get bogged down, postpone things or not finish them. You work inefficiently and slowly. Appointments and agreements are forgotten or things are lost or misplaced. That leads to frustration and anger. General exhaustion, disinterest, irritability and loss of drive can result. However, there is also the phenomenon of “hyperfocusing”, in which people with ADHD immerse themselves in a topic that is of interest to them and forget everything around them.
  • Hyperactivity
    Those affected are restless, fidgety, restless, internally tense and feel driven. Constant talking, sitting restlessness, nests are noticeable. They often try to compensate for their hyperactivity with (excessive) exercise. In adults, the motor restlessness is often no longer as pronounced as in children, it is then directed more inward and is perceived as tension, urgency and racing thoughts. The need for changing activities with a lot of freedom of movement is great. Many suffer from violent emotions.
  • Impulsivity and affect lability
    Impulsive people tend to take ill-considered actions and decisions without thinking about the longer-term consequences. As a result, they often harm themselves and others. They strive for immediate reward or satisfaction of needs. People with ADHD are impatient and irritable quickly in many everyday situations. They often have an unrestrained flow of speech and often interrupt their counterparts. Sudden mood swings with outbursts of anger about little things alternate with enthusiasm and euphoria that are difficult to understand. Those affected do not create the necessary distance to many things. The generally reduced tolerance to stress and frustration can only be partially compensated with considerable effort.
Not all three ADHD symptoms occur to the same extent in every person affected. There are three subtypes:
  • Combined type
    All three core symptoms relatively evenly expressed
  • Mostly inattentive type
    Inattention and disorganization in the foreground - impulsivity and hyperactivity rather low or nonexistent
  • Predominantly hyperactive-impulsive type
    Impulsivity and hyperactivity are still dominant in adulthood - inattentiveness in everyday life is hardly a problem

Concomitant disorders in ADHD

There are family, partnership or school-professional problems: People with ADHD repeat classes more often at school, drop out of training, often change jobs, and are more often unemployed. In relation to what they could implement based on their intellectual capabilities, they usually lag behind their possibilities. Partnerships also break up more often. There are frequent moves with all bridges being broken off. Alcohol, drug or nicotine abuse, delinquency, or debt are also typical of ADHD. Basic beliefs are “I'm somehow different from the others” or “I can't get anything right, my life is a disaster.” Associated with the helplessness and helplessness are often severe self-esteem disorders. Mental stress such as sleep disorders, eating disorders, burnout syndrome, compulsions, but also personality disorders develop. The most common comorbidities include depression (40%), anxiety disorders (30%) and substance-related disorders (30%).


Diagnosis: not an easy matter

The diagnosis of ADHD in adults is quite extensive and time-consuming.
It is crucial that the main symptoms existed before the age of 12 and that difficulties arose in primary school. Now it is checked whether your symptoms meet the criteria of the globally recognized classification system ICD-10. In addition, other diseases are identified or excluded

A detailed discussion with you gives the experienced specialist or psychotherapist good information about your illness. Specific tests support the diagnosis, but always require a final clinical evaluation.

Test psychological diagnostics

Supplementary diagnostics with the ADHD self-assessment sheet (ADHD-SB) helps to record the current severity and the degree of your exposure to ADHD. The structured, clinical Wender-Reimherr interview (WRI) can also be used for this purpose. Among other things, questions about organization, emotional stability, excitability and stress tolerance can be found here. Based on your answers, we can adequately assess your symptoms in everyday life.
The Conners scales for adults (CAARS) can assess the impairments caused by distractibility, impulsiveness and motor restlessness and lead to an overall ADHD index that shows the extent of the symptoms.