Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder occurs when a person has trouble with maintaining attention, completing tasks, focusing thoughts, controlling impulses, and/or controlling physical energy and movement. 

However, many different life events, including trauma/abuse, grief, life transitions, or substance abuse, as well as other psychological disorders and medical conditions, can mimic certain characteristics of ADHD. Less than 3% of adults in the United States are diagnosed with ADHD. Even if the individual receives a diagnosis, ADHD is manageable, and treatment using a combination of medication and psychotherapy can be highly effective.

Most people with ADHD typically display a combination of different symptoms. Thus, a clear and thorough life history, including biopsychosocial events and lifestyle inventory, is needed to determine this diagnosis for adults.

There are currently three different specifiers a doctor or nurse practitioner will add to an ADHD diagnosis to identify its characteristics, including predominantly inattentive ADHD, predominantly hyperactive/impulsive ADHD, and combined ADHD. However, these do not qualify as different diagnoses within the diagnosis of ADHD. They simply provide more detailed descriptions on a particular presentation of ADHD to help the practitioner to better tailor the treatment for the individual and to help the individual to gain insight and awareness into coping with the illness.


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