- Adult ADHD
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a doctor would ask.
See what questions
a doctor would ask.
It is common for a diagnosis of adult ADHD to be delayed or missed because symptoms can be similar to other diseases, disorders and conditions. They include petit mal seizures, in which a person appears to daydream excessively, blank out, or is "spaced out". Symptoms can also mimic symptoms of diabetes, learning disabilities, and diseases and conditions that affect hearing or vision. Adult ADHD can also mimic and/or be accompanied by learning disabilities, mental health conditions, such as depression and anxiety, or psychological trauma, such as the loss of a spouse....more about Adult ADHD »
Adult ADHD misdiagnosis: Many people are unaware of the continuance of ADHD from childhood into adulthood. It is also a common myth for people to believe that an adult with ADHD simply does not want to focus on a task or is too lazy to follow through with the completion of a task. The truth is that adult ADHD is a real medical diagnosis and is the result of a chemical problem in the brain that negatively impacts an adult's executive functioning, such the abilities to prioritize, organize, focus, and problems with short-term memory, self control and emotion regulation.
Another misnomer is that adult ADHD isn't really that difficult to live with. In fact, adult ADHD can create a major barrier to living a normal life and can disrupt careers, social and family relationships, and finances....more about Adult ADHD »
For a diagnosis of Adult ADHD, the following list of conditions have been mentioned in sources as possible alternative diagnoses to consider during the diagnostic process for Adult ADHD:
Related medical mistakes may include:
Commonly undiagnosed conditions in related areas may include:
Mild worm infections undiagnosed in children: Human worm infestations, esp. threadworm, can be overlooked in some cases, because it may cause only mild or even absent symptoms. Although the most common symptoms are anal itch (or vaginal itch), which are obvious in severe cases, milder conditions may fail to be noticed in children. In particular, it may interfere with the child's good night's sleep. Threadworm is a condition to consider in children with symptoms such as bedwetting (enuresis), difficulty sleeping, irritability, or other sleeping symptoms. Visual inspection of the region can often see the threadworms, at night when they are active, but they can also be missed this way, and multiple inspections can be warranted if worms are suspected. See the introduction to threadworm.
Undiagnosed stroke leads to misdiagnosed aphasia: BBC News UK reported on a man who had been institutionalized and treated for mental illness because he suffered from sudden inability to speak. This was initially misdiagnosed as a "nervous breakdown" and other mental conditions. He was later diagnosed as having had a stroke, and suffering from aphasia (inability to speak), a well-known complication of stroke (or other brain conditions).
Dementia may be a drug interaction: A common scenario in aged care is for a patient to show mental decline to dementia. Whereas this can, of course, occur due to various medical conditions, such as a stroke or Alzheimer's disease, it can also occur from a side effect or interaction between multiple drugs that the elderly patient may be taking. There are also various other possible causes of dementia.
Mesenteric adenitis misdiagnosed as appendicitis in children: Because appendicitis is one of the more feared conditions for a child with abdominal pain, it can be over-diagnosed (it can, of course, also fail to be diagnosed with fatal effect). One of the most common misdiagnosed is for children with mesenteric adenitis to be misdiagnosed as appendicitis. Fortunately, thus misdiagnosis is usually less serious than the reverse failure to diagnose appendicitis.
Blood pressure cuffs misdiagnose hypertension in children: One known misdiagnosis issue with hyperension, arises in relation to the simple equipment used to test blood pressure. The "cuff" around the arm to measure blood pressure can simply be too small to accurately test a child's blood pressure. This can lead to an incorrect diagnosis of a child with hypertension. The problem even has a name unofficially: "small cuff syndrome". See misdiagnosis of hypertension.
ADHD under-diagnosed in adults: Although the over-diagnoses of ADHD in children is a well-known controversy, the reverse side related to adults. Some adults can remain undiagnosed, and indeed the condition has usually been overlooked throughout childhood. There are as many as 8 million adults with ADHD in the USA (about 1 in 25 adults in the USA). See misdiagnosis of ADHD or symptoms of ADHD.
Bipolar disorder misdiagosed as various conditions by primary physicians: Bipolar disorder (manic-depressive disorder) often fails to be diagnosed correctly by primary care physicians. Many patients with bipolar seek help from their physician, rather than a psychiatrist or psychologist. See misdiagnosis of bipolar disorder.
Eating disorders under-diagnosed in men: The typical patient with an eating disorder is female. The result is that men with eating disorders often fail to be diagnosed or have a delayed diagnosis. See misdiagnosis of eating disorders or symptoms of eating disorders.
Depression undiagnosed in teenagers: Serious bouts of depression can be undiagnosed in teenagers. The "normal" moodiness of teenagers can cause severe medical depression to be overlooked. See misdiagnosis of depression or symptoms of depression.
Children with migraine often misdiagnosed: A migraine often fails to be correctly diagnosed in pediatric patients. These patients are not the typical migraine sufferers, but migraines can also occur in children. See misdiagnosis of migraine or introduction to migraine.
Undiagnosed anxiety disorders related to depression: Patients with depression (see symptoms of depression) may also have undiagnosed anxiety disorders (see symptoms of anxiety disorders). Failure to diagnose these anxiety disorders may worsen the depression. See misdiagnosis of depression or misdiagnosis of anxiety disorders.
Vitamin B12 deficiency under-diagnosed: The condition of Vitamin B12 deficiency is a possible misdiagnosis of various conditions, such as multiple sclerosis (see symptoms of multiple sclerosis). See symptoms of Vitamin B12 deficiency or misdiagnosis of multiple sclerosis.
Rare types of medical disorders and diseases in related medical areas:
Read these general articles with an overview of misdiagnosis issues.
When checking for a misdiagnosis of Adult ADHD or confirming a diagnosis of Adult ADHD, it is useful to consider what other medical conditions might be possible misdiagnoses or other alternative conditions relevant to diagnosis. These alternate diagnoses of Adult ADHD may already have been considered by your doctor or may need to be considered as possible alternative diagnoses or candidates for misdiagnosis of Adult ADHD. For a general overview of misdiagnosis issues for all diseases, see Overview of Misdiagnosis.
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