DEAR DR. ROACH: I am a great fan of your column and others that address such a multitude of illnesses and medical situations. However, I cannot recall EVER seeing or reading the illness of ADHD even mentioned.
I feel that this is such a prevalent disease in our world today and is responsible for much of the violence and spontaneous crime with which we are accosted on a daily basis. Up until recently, there was not a name for such an illness. My son, who is 50 now, was punished, ridiculed, expelled from school and got into trouble with the law all because he was considered impossible to contain, teach, etc. Several years ago, we saw an editorial online regarding the symptoms of ADHD, and he went for testing, began medication and today is a different person. Additionally, following his success, I realized that my husband also has ADHD, which accounted for untold years of volatility, anger, outbursts, bad decisions or no decision at all, etc. He refuses treatment. Please address this and encourage others to do likewise. — D.M.
ANSWER: Current estimates are that between 2.5 percent and 4.5 percent of the adult population in many countries meet the diagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder — ADHD. There is much debate about both overtreatment and underdiagnosis of this condition. Many psychiatrists with far more expertise than I have argued that too many children are treated with medication. However, my expertise is in adults, and I think that the primary problem with adults is, as may be the case with your husband, that they were never diagnosed. Treatment is effective for ADHD, and it includes both medication and counseling.
There are several tests you can do at home to screen for adult ADHD. The best do-it-yourself screening test for adult ADHD is found online at www.hcp.med.harvard.edu/ncs/asrs.php. Although this instrument can’t make the diagnosis, it does provide guidance on when it would be important to make an appointment with a specialist in adult ADHD.