Mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of. Nationwide, 45.9 million adults are in the same boat, battling mental health disorders, per the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is one of the most commonly diagnosed disorders among children, too.

The National Institute on Mental Health classifies ADHD as a condition that affects the mood, cognitive abilities, and behavior of the diagnosed. Depending on the type of ADHD a patient has, they may be markedly overactive and unable to calm themselves at times. Others might not struggle with this at all, but they’ll have serious difficulty paying attention to tasks at hand, sometimes even those they’re interested in. For a select group, both sides of the spectrum apply.

ADHD in a Nutshell

Approximately 4.4 percent of adults in the United States have ADHD, per a 2006 study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry. Among the American child population between 2007 and 2009, nine percent were diagnosed with the disorder, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The symptoms can be very diverse since there are subtypes of ADHD; they are hyperactive-impulsive, inattentive and combined type.

To be diagnosed with the hyperactive-impulsive type of ADHD, the patient must experience at least six symptoms that are noted in the hyperactive category and fewer than six in the inattentive category. Likewise, those diagnosed with the inattentive type of ADHD apply the inverse. Often, rendering the diagnosis of combination type ADHD is far simpler to achieve than treatment is. There must be at least six symptoms present in both categories to receive a combined hyperactive-impulsive and inattentive diagnosis.

Combined Type ADHD

The combined form of ADHD includes symptoms from both of the distinct subsets of the learning disorder. Per the National Institute on Mental Health, hyperactive-impulsive symptoms include:

  • Inability to sit still when necessary
  • Endless chatter and talkativeness
  • Jumping around and fiddling with various objects; touching items
  • Wiggling around in one’s seat
  • Preference to be in continual motion
  • Trouble engaging in and completing quiet or peaceful tasks
  • Impatience
  • Acting first and thinking later
  • A lack of a verbal filter
  • Inappropriate displays of emotions without trying to control them
  • Butting into conversations or talking over others

In addition, symptoms of inattention such as the following will be present:

  • Forgetfulness
  • Being easily bored with mundane tasks
  • Trouble concentrating on one thing
  • Struggling to focus on organizing or finishing a project
  • Seemingly not paying attention when someone else is talking to them
  • Frequent daydreaming
  • Trouble with processing feedback as quickly and accurately as others
  • Difficulty adhering to directions
  • Being easily distracted
  • Often missing the details of an assignment or task
  • Jumping from one task to another repeatedly

The root cause of ADHD is still not known, but it is thought to stem from a combination of both environmental and biological influences. Some research points to the disorder running in families while others note specific risk factors, such as exposure to toxic substances during prenatal development. One Translational Psychiatry study noted the increased presence of ADHD in children whose mothers drank or used drugs while they were pregnant.

Combined Treatment

ADHD is commonly seen and diagnosed in the substance-abusing population. The adult ADHD patient may exhibit other symptoms, such as procrastination and repeat absences at work that their substance abuse overshadows and takes the blame for. Many drug and alcohol abusers are engaging in these destructive behaviors in an effort to cover up or hide from the symptoms of an undiagnosed mental illness. With the correct medications — like Adderall and Vyvanse — and therapy many see a significant improvement in their lives.

Substance abuse and mental wellness go hand in hand. In fact, half of all sufferers of severe mental illness battle substance dependency, too, per the National Institute on Mental Illness. WebMD notes that alcoholics are five to 10 times more likely to have ADHD than those who are not dependent on alcohol, as well. Call us now and learn more about how we can help.