Ask Dr. Monti: Do I have Adult ADD?

Answer from Daniel A. Monti, director of the Jefferson-Myrna Brind Center of Integrative Medicine at Thomas Jefferson University and Hospital

Dr. Monti

Q: Lately, I feel as though my mind is constantly hopping from one task to the next. Even though I’m “busy” all day at work, I feel like I’m accomplishing little. How can I tell if I have symptoms of adult ADD or if I’m simply over-worked?

A: So many variables can affect attention, from high stress and not getting enough sleep to medical issues. If this is a new problem, then the first thing to do is get a checkup from your doctor and make sure you are evaluated for hormonal issues and receive a depression screen, as part of the general medical assessment.

The next step is to take a lifestyle inventory. A tired, stressed-out brain that isn’t getting proper nutrition will not be attentive and functional. As we mature through the cycles of adulthood, it becomes increasingly important to have good sleep hygiene and effective stress-reduction techniques. Regular exercise is part of that regimen, and everyone would benefit from a meditation practice such as the mindfulness-based programs offered throughout the Delaware Valley (for more information on program times and locations go here).

The high-sugar, high-starch diet that is all too common in many Americans can also lead to concentration problems, as the body struggles to regulate blood sugar from years of dietary stress. This entire topic is the emphasis of my book, The Great Life Makeover (Harper-Collins), and authors such as Andrew Weil and Mehmet Oz also have wonderful books on lifestyle.

As for adult ADD, I consulted Philadelphia psychiatrist Bernardo Merizalde, M.D., who provides an integrative treatment approach to ADD at the Jefferson-Myna Brind Center of Integrative Medicine.  He relays that adults who have ADD usually have had symptoms present since childhood, usually manifesting more noticeably between 6th and 8th grade, when academic demands require greater organizational skills and focus on tasks. These difficulties continue into high school, college, the work place, and/or home in about one third of people diagnosed with ADD in their younger years. People with ADD usually have other additional problems, besides difficulty with focus and organization; they are often impulsive and impatient, have difficulty focusing in conversations, have difficulty with planning and time management, and can be emotionally sensitive.  The diagnosis of ADD requires an evaluation from an expert, and there are several treatment options, including prescription drugs and behavioral techniques.

E-mail Dr. Monti your question here, and he could answer it an upcoming blog post! Dr. Monti is Director of the Myrna Brind Center of Integrative Medicine at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital and the author of “The Great Life Makeover”. Read more about him here.

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