Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, or ADHD, is usually associated with children and teens. Officially affecting around five percent of children in the United States, the number of undiagnosed children with the disorder is thought to be even higher. ADHD in children can affect their success at school, relationships with their peers, and their ability to develop healthy self esteem.
Many believe that ADHD is something children grow out of, but the truth is that about half of those who have ADHD in childhood carry it into adulthood where it continues to impact their lives. If left untreated, ADHD can cause a number of problems that can make life much more difficult. It’s imperative that individuals know the symptoms of adult ADHD, especially if they were not diagnosed as children and suspect they may have always had the disorder. Here are signs you may have this disorder:
Attention Deficit Disorder Symptoms
Lack of focus or hyperfocus
Adults with ADHD tend to have problems with focus. In some, it shows up as a lack of focus. They are unable to complete projects, don’t follow conversations well, tend to procrastinate, and are easily distracted by noise, other people, or activity. Others display signs of hyperfocus and get lost in projects to the point they don’t respond to outside stimuli and lose track of time and other commitments.
Lack of organization
Those with adult ADHD have problems keeping their lives organized. They often lose track of items they need such as keys or planners, are chronically late, forget appointments, and procrastinate on tasks they find uninteresting. This can lead to major problems in their jobs and also cause issues in relationships.
ADHD can cause an individual to display impulsive behavior including drinking too much, overeating, overspending, and acting inappropriately in social settings. The deficit affects their ability to think their actions through and they often sacrifice future gains for what feels good at the moment.
It’s normal to have a bit of moodiness, but those with ADHD experience emotional fluctuations much more intensely and rapidly than most. Adult ADHD sufferers often feel bored and look for intense stimulation to keep them engaged. They also find small stressors difficult to tolerate and everyday life can lead to feelings of anxiety and depression.
Most of us welcome a chance to sit down and relax after a busy day, but those with adult ADHD find relaxation difficult. Their restless minds and bodies crave constant stimulation and this leads to fidgeting, an inability to sit still, and a need to keep themselves busy. Most ADHD sufferers also have a very restless mind and tend to replay events or frustrations over and over in their head. Even if they are able to calm their bodies at certain times during the day, their brains hardly ever rest.
The constant stress of overthinking and stimulation-seeking has its consequences, and in the ADHD adult, the consequence is often fatigue. Many people with the disorder have sleep problems and this combined with a constant effort to focus can lead them to feel drained and tired. The fatigue impacts their ability to concentrate, even more, creating a cycle that can be very difficult to break.
Attention Deficit Disorder Treatment
Adult ADHD can be a difficult condition to live with. However, it is treatable and the level of treatment depends on your specific symptoms and circumstances. When you schedule an appointment with an ADHD health specialist, he or she may suggest the following forms of treatment:
Knowing how the disorder affects you, what may have caused it, and how to explain it to others is an imperative part of the treatment process. This is especially important if you are newly diagnosed and have little knowledge of the condition. Knowing how to express yourself and set boundaries that help you thrive despite your condition is part of the education process. Your doctor may also suggest that your family and friends educate themselves about the condition as well so they can understand your behaviors and help facilitate your treatment.
Therapy is an effective component of the ADHD treatment plan and different types of therapy can be used depending on your unique condition. Cognitive behavioral therapy has proven very useful in treating adult ADHD. This type of therapy involves recognizing unhealthy thoughts and habits and teaching your mind to stop the thoughts or replace them with more positive thoughts before they become damaging.
Psychotherapy may also be part of your treatment plan and includes building trust with your therapist so you can discuss challenges and self-esteem issues. Psychotherapy is often used with those sufferers who also have symptoms of depression and/or anxiety.
Family or group therapy is a third option that you can explore with your therapist. Living with ADHD does not just affect you, it affects everyone in your life. Those you love the most may be frustrated with your actions and not know the correct way to help you get better. Family or group therapy can help them manage their stress and anger and learn positive, effective ways to enhance your treatment.
Medication can very useful in treating adult ADHD and is often used in a comprehensive treatment plan. Stimulants such as Adderall, Ritalin, or Concerta or non-stimulants like Clonidine and Strattera may be prescribed to help regulate chemicals in the brain and decrease symptoms. Your doctor may also prescribe medication to manage your depression or anxiety symptoms if you experience these as well. Medication should never be the first choice for treatment and should always be used in conjunction with therapy and other treatment avenues.
Recognizing the signs of adult ADHD is an important first step in the treatment process. While it’s normal to have occasional moodiness or to show up late to an appointment when you are busy, chronic mood fluctuations, an inability to focus, and disorganization that affects your career or relationship are a sign of something more serious. If you suspect you have adult ADHD, schedule an appointment with a specialist who can analyze your situation and develop a treatment plan that can help you manage your condition and live a fuller life. If you have any questions about ADHD, please reach out to one of our medical professionals.