Attention Disorders in adults

Attention Disorders in adults

Posted on Feb 7, 2023

Lockdowns and introspection have raised awareness in many about how we learn and function in workplaces and relationships. This has resulted in many people wondering about undiagnosed attention deficit disorder, and presenting to Turn The Corner asking for a referral for a diagnosis.

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD or simply ADD) is common – it affects about 5% of the population. This is controversial, however, as diagnosis is based on assessment using observational methods, interviews and rating scales and there is no agreement in prevalence across demographics. Prevalence varies between countries from 0.8% to 8%.

Management is not all about medication, however for those with ADD who are treated, the responses can be transformational. In Victoria, access to medication requires a psychiatric assessment, or a paediatric assessment, or a specialist psychological assessment. This is getting increasingly difficult to achieve. It is also expensive, and in my experience, the assessments are greatly varied in quality.

Having a frank discussion with one of us at Turn The Corner is your possible first step. Talking to friends and family, “doing your own research” (absolutely nothing wrong with that…we all do it!) and then coming in is highly recommended. With research in mind, you might be interested in this short video or this book. Both are very good.

Attention Disorders are broken down into those with or without hyperactivity. This is a non-exhaustive list of some presentations we see in adults who wonder about having particularly inattentive ADD;

  1. Lack of sustained attention, variable motivation and needing a lot of reminding and support to complete tasks.
  2. Poor planning, prioritising and organising of daily chores.
  3. Lacking discipline and having poor routines.
  4. Tendency to initiate multiple tasks and jobs but getting easily overwhelmed including making several lists.
  5. There is often significant avoidance and easy distractibility due to external cues.
  6. People often have a sense of poor accomplishment and inefficiency, that the lists keep growing and then people often just give up.
  7. In conversations it can be common to feel awkward, not fitting in or nervous, worried about oversharing, being too talkative or giving too much detail. This is in common with autism disorders.
  8. Forgetfulness, poor time management and poor estimation of how long things take.
  9. Hyper focus on specific subjects, impulsivity with spending or eating, forgetting to eat and drink and then bingeing on food is also common.
  10. A poor sense of goal setting, direction in life, struggling to read for a long time often the person cannot process and has to reread the information.
  11. There can also be concerns around being very fidgety, restless, getting up and walking around and picking at skin or eyebrows.

The above also occur in people who are neurodiverse in other ways than with ADD, and in those who are anxious or depressed, or just tend towards certain ways of living. There is no one reliable test for ADD and there are enormous societal and personal biases as well as historical changes in attitudes to diagnosis that make estimating prevalence pretty tricky.

If you want to talk about attention deficit hyperactivity disorder some more, please make a long 30-minute appointment with your favourite Turn The Corner doctor at either our Northcote or Brunswick clinics.

Dr. Tamsin Franklin, Feb 2023