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Adult attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder: descriptive study in a Memory Unit
INTRODUCTION. Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is the main neurological diagnosis in Chilean children. Its profile and evolution in adults has not been appropriately studied, despise its personal and social impact.
AIM. To describe the characteristics of adults with ADHD evaluated in a memory unit, verifying the existence of differences depending on gender.
PATIENTS AND METHODS. A demographic and symptomatic evaluation protocol was applied to all patients diagnosed with ADHD who consulted at the Memory Unit of the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, during the year 2004.
RESULTS. Eighty six patients were included. Average age was 37, being 53% male. Most patients were diagnosed for the first time in adulthood, corresponding to an ADHD of combined type. The main patients’ complaints were forgetfulness and distraction. A stressing factor capable of worsening the symptoms was identified in 59% of patients. Depression was the principal comorbidity, with a significantly higher incidence in women.
CONCLUSIONS. The limitations of ADHD diagnostic criteria available for adult patients are discussed. Differences depending on gender were analyzed, describing a predominantly disruptive profile in men and depressive profile in women. There is a clear under-diagnosis of female children with ADHD, with a potential negative impact on their neuropsychological development. The differential diagnosis with mild cognitive impairment, in patients complaining of recent memory decline is discussed.