An interesting ADD research review from November 2010 ask whether the proper criteria are being used to diagnose adult ADD. Attention deficit disorder, or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, as it is officially called, has three clinically defined types. Each type of ADHD has its own symptoms and potential treatments. However, the criteria necessary for a diagnosis of adult ADHD is laid out in a manual known as DSM-IV. One group of researchers reviewed clinical interviews to see how the ADD symptoms criteria should be re-examined for the upcoming publication of DSM-V.
Diagnosis of Adult ADD
One interesting result of the research was that almost half of the people who had ADHD as a child still meet the DSM-IV criteria to be diagnosed with adult ADHD. Of those, almost all of them still report a current attention deficit disorder (94.9%) while just over a third still report a hyperactivity issue (34.6%).
In other words, the persistence of ADD into adulthood is correlated much more with attention deficit rather than with hyperactivity.
To put it another way, you are much more likely to outgrow being hyperactive than you are to outgrow an attention deficit.
The main issue raised by the researchers is that many consider ADD to have three factors. Two of the factors are recognized by the DSM-IV as requirements for a diagnosis of adult ADD, while the third is not.
According to the researchers, the three factors of adult ADD are:
- Inattention / Hyperactivity
- Impaired Executive Function
Executive function is not a recognized criteria for adult ADD, however, as the review shows, it is the least likely of the three to be outgrown. In other words, it is the key component of an adult ADD diagnosis and it is not currently used as a criteria.
Whether anything will come of this research remains to be seen, however, it does provide some useful information for us adults with ADHD. Just because you are not hyperactive, doesn’t mean you don’t still have the core issue that comes with ADD. Furthermore, perhaps as you age and choose your ADD treatments based on solid scientific data and medical research, you may want to prioritize those that focus on executive function.