What is attention deficit disorder without hyperactivity in adults?

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (AD/HD) is a common psychological disorder that is characterized by problems with attention, impulsivity and/or hyperactivity. Adults who have significant problems with inattention, but exhibit few or no symptoms of hyperactivity, are said to have the predominantly inattentive subtype of AD/HD.

Executive functions of the brain--such as verbal and nonverbal working memory, self-regulation and motivation, and planning--are thought to be impaired in adults with AD/HD. Adults who have AD/HD without hyperactivity can experience difficulties with maintaining attention and focus, using working memory and recall, and regulating emotions. Organizing and prioritizing tasks can be challenging.

What causes attention deficit disorder without hyperactivity (AD/HD without hyperactivity) in adults?

No one is sure exactly what causes AD/HD without hyperactivity, but the condition often runs in families. There appears to be a genetic and neurobiological basis for attention deficit disorder. Usually, adults with the predominantly inattentive form of AD/HD first developed it during childhood. However, because children with this form of AD/HD usually are not hyperactive, the disorder might go unrecognized until they reach adolescence or adulthood. This is especially true for girls and women with AD/HD without hyperactivity. Girls may be more quiet and passive than those who do not have the disorder. Women often go undiagnosed until one of their children is diagnosed with AD/HD. Then they might recognize similarities in their behavior patterns and seek professional help.

Researchers are studying nutritional, environmental and other factors that may play a role in AD/HD.

What are symptoms of attention deficit disorder without hyperactivity (AD/HD without hyperactivity) in adults ?

According to the American Psychiatric Association's diagnostic manual, there are nine symptoms associated with inattention problems. Although nearly everyone experiences some of these problems at times, people with the predominantly inattentive form of AD/HD show at least 6 of the 9 symptoms and experience significant difficulties in their daily lives because of them. These symptoms may cause disruptions in their school, work, family or social activities. Here is a list of the 9 symptoms associated with the predominantly inattentive form of AD/HD:

  • Often has difficulty sustaining attention at work or play
  • Frequently does not pay close attention to details or makes careless mistakes at work, school or other tasks
  • Often has problems organizing chores or activities
  • Is easily distracted by outside stimuli
  • Frequently does not follow through when given instructions or fails to complete work or school assignments, chores or other activities, even though the person understands what is expected
  • Often becomes forgetful when performing routine chores
  • Frequently puts off or avoids tasks that require sustained attention
  • Often loses materials needed to complete tasks or activities
  • Appears not to be listening even when spoken to directly

Adults who experience serious or chronic problems due to 6 or more of these symptoms and do not have symptoms of hyperactivity or impulsivity may have AD/HD without hyperactivity. Other psychological conditions, such as depression or anxiety, can also accompany the predominantly inattentive form of AD/HD.

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