adhd economy

By Tammy Preston, MS

ADHD being recognized amongst adults may be a recent phenomenon, but it is interesting to put ADHD history itself into context.  ADHD symptoms were recorded in the mid 1800s in children with nervous system injuries and diseases, however  ADHD as such is normally recognized as being first described by George Still in 1902. He called it “morbid defect of moral control”. Since then it has also been called: minimal brain damage (1930), minimal brain dysfunction (1960), hyper kinetic reaction of childhood (1968), and attention deficit disorder (ADD) with or without hyperactivity (1980).  Since 1987, it has been known as ADHD or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.  A second definition was brought out in 1992 by the World Health Organization, “hyper kinetic disorder”, a narrower definition than ADHD that comprises only the more serious cases.

The American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th Edition (known as DSM-IV-TR) classifies ADHD in three ways.  ADHD combined type,  ADHD predominantly inattentive and ADHD predominantly hyperactive-impulsive type.  While the World Health Organization International Classification of Diseases, 10th Revision 1992 (known as ICD-10) has a similar list of symptoms for ‘hyper kinetic disorder’.

Perhaps with this long and evolving history of ADHD and it’s various classifications for children, it should come as no surprise that attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is now being recognized amongst adults.  As a population becomes accustomed to the recognition of the problems and associations of a particular condition, it can indeed become easier to see these problems among another segment of the population where they have previously been ignored.  It is another step in the ongoing classification and treatment of problematic behaviors of members of society.


  1. In the mid 1980’s at the age of 28 I was and diagnosed with Hyperactivity disorder when Ritalin was an experimental drug. I am led to believe that this was the fore runner to adhd. I was only moderately disruptive as a child, which was described as normal because the hyperactivity could sometimes manifest as brainwave hyperactivity. I seem to grown out of what hyperactivity I had as a child, but still have a major problem with attention. I am always losing things, forget to do things, have a shocking short term memory and am often in the middle of doing something and forget what I’m doing. I am in constant fear of doing something stupid and when I do, It stresses me and I can get confused. This drives my wife mad, who reacts in typical the manner of someone who thinks they know what ADHD is and doesn’t take it seriously. Does this sound typical?

  2. Yes, that’s very typical David. I’ll add an article soon for spouses of people with ADHD. Also, many adults are only now being diagnosed with ADHD when they’ve been struggling with these issues all along and not knowing why.

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