Test for ADS in adults
Adults with ADHD can also be tested in the same way as children, because questionnaires on symptoms and accompanying problems are available for every age group. For the pure attention test there are also whole test batteries which the doctor can carry out with the patient. The difficulty, however, is to become aware of one’s ADHD and to consult a doctor.
As a rule, patients are not aware of their disorder and consider the symptoms to be character weaknesses. So if ADHD is not diagnosed early in childhood, people only learn about it late or never. It is not uncommon for the doctor who treats the patient for accompanying problems such as depression to be the first to suspect that the patient has an attention deficit disorder. The diagnosis is then made by means of a detailed discussion and review of all the years in which the problems have developed. Particularly in adults, the discussion with the doctor is therefore more important than standardised tests, in which many patients who have developed compensation strategies would also fall through the ranks and not be recognised.
Since an exact diagnosis is necessary for a therapy, specific diseases have to be delimited by differential diagnosis. This means that typical examinations are used to exclude diseases that manifest themselves symptomatically similar to ADS. A differential diagnostic delimitation may also be necessary if other diseases are suspected in addition to ADHD, which make the situation more difficult. For further and more detailed information on differential diagnosis, please click on the diagnosis of ADS: Diagnosis of ADS.
What is the difference to ADHS?
In typical ADHD, the symptom complexes of hyperactivity and impulsiveness are in the foreground. Those affected often show the typical picture of a “fidgeting Philip” who cannot sit still and who is unable to get the message across to others. In these forms of ADHD, the symptoms are therefore already noticeable in childhood and the child’s parents and teachers consult a doctor.
Even with ADHD without hyperactivity, the symptoms have existed since childhood, but are very often overlooked. These children experience a similar sensory overload as in ADHD, in which it is difficult to separate the important from the unimportant and therefore absorb far too many stimuli from their environment. The attention and concentration disorder results from this excessive demand, as too many information is simply thrown at them simultaneously.
Hyperactive children compensate for this with movement, conspicuous behaviour and impulsive reactions. Hypoactive, i.e. “underactive” ADD children try to shut themselves off from the outside world and take refuge in their imagination. This creates the image of the typical “dreamer”, who also has difficulty concentrating and therefore also has problems at school.
However, this dreamy absence of mind is often interpreted as normal shyness and introversion and the difficulties at school as a lack of intelligence. This can have serious consequences, because the failures and social problems are then attributed to one’s own character and put an enormous strain on self-esteem. This then favours the associated problems in later life, such as depression and social isolation.
Due to the difficulty in identifying the disorder, ADHD therefore has a higher risk of psychological problems and behavioural problems than ADHD. In addition, it more often continues into adulthood, which is not only due to the lack of therapy and must have other reasons. However, it is still unclear what causes the symptoms and where the difference between the hyper- and hypoactive forms of ADHD comes from.
Some mechanisms, such as disturbed signal transmission in the brain, are common to both types, while the differences that lead to the different manifestations have not yet been fully explored. However, for all types of ADHD, the following applies: early recognition and treatment of the symptoms reduces the level of suffering in almost all patients and enables them to live an unrestricted life. Many symptoms of ADHD are similar to those of Asperger’s syndrome, which is a disorder of the autism spectrum.
Social isolation, psychological abnormalities and inappropriate behaviour are particularly common in both disorders. Some patients actually have both disorders, but usually there is only one condition that needs to be identified. For this reason, attention deficits typical of ADHD should be distinguished from symptoms similar to autism.