Being diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) or Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) as an adult can come as a relief to some individuals who have wondered why they have difficulty staying organized, being on time, keeping a regular job, or developing meaningful relationships with others. Though it’s common knowledge that ADD is an issue that affects millions of children and teens, it’s only in recent years that the disorder has been identified and deeply studied in adults.
Adult ADD can present with a number of symptoms, and no two cases are exactly alike. Symptoms can include:
- Anxiety – Those with ADD may agonize about past mistakes or spend excessive time worrying about the future. This anxiety may impact their daily lives to the point where they avoid social or work situations or have a difficult time interacting with others.
- Mood swings – Being filled with euphoria one moment and feeling sad the next is a common experience for some of those with adult ADD. Though the swings are usually not as pronounced as they would be in someone with bipolar disorder, they are still disruptive and can leave the sufferer feeling confused and upset.
- Difficulty managing time – Adult ADD can cause people to miss appointments, misjudge how long a project or activity will take, and be late for numerous meetings or get-togethers.
- Lack of organization – Adult ADHD can cause individuals to be disorganized both in their work and their personal lives. This may show up as messy workspaces or homes, projects that never quite come together, or disorganized thoughts.
- Emotional outbursts – Many with adult ADD have difficulty managing and regulating their emotions. When they get upset or angry, it may come out as an unexpected outburst that can surprise others and harm relationships.
If you believe you may have adult ADD, it should be a priority to get a diagnosis as soon as possible from a reputable San Francisco ADHD clinic. Once you have a diagnosis, you can begin working with your doctor on treatment options. Many of those who are newly diagnosed with the disorder wish to try other options before they turn to medication. If you are one of those individuals, you may find that your condition improves with the following non-medication routes:
- Increase in Restful Sleep – Everyone knows that a night of bad sleep can negatively impact their attention span, mood, and ability to concentrate the next day. Those with adult ADD are even more affected by poor sleep and insomnia. This causes a vicious cycle of not sleeping well and functioning the poorly the next day, which leads to even poorer sleep. If you have trouble sleeping, try taking melatonin or develop a habit of not drinking caffeine in the afternoon. You may also want to try white noise machines or taking a warm bath before you turn in for the night. If you believe you suffer from a sleep condition such as sleep apnea, consider seeing a sleep specialist.
- Mindfulness Meditation – A short attention span and inability to concentrate are hallmarks of adult ADD. Finding ways to train your brain to be more mindful is helpful for many with this condition. Mindfulness meditation is one way to practice paying attention and increasing your presence in the now. You can try using apps to teach yourself mindfulness meditation or meet with a counselor or trainer who has successfully used this method to treat others with your condition.
- Designate Activity Partners – Many of those with adult ADD get off track because they try to handle too much on their own. If you are disorganized, always find yourself turning in projects late, or have troubles paying bills on time, it could help to designate an activity partner both at work and at home. You can task them with helping you stay on track and schedule meeting with them to ensure you are not missing details or deadlines.
- Individual Counseling – Many people find their condition improves when they have a compassionate counselor to talk with who understands their condition. Those with adult ADD have often been misunderstood or criticized for years and this can result in low self-esteem and feelings of being unworthy of love or respect. Speaking with a counselor about these issues and exploring them within the new light of an ADD diagnosis can be incredibly healing.
- Group Counseling or Therapy – Talking with others who are experiencing the same issues as you is effective for many with adult ADD. This is an especially helpful treatment for those who are newly diagnosed and have felt alone or misunderstood within their families or workplaces. Learning how others manage their condition can make sufferers feel they are less alone and give them new ideas on how to cope.
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy – Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (or CBT) is a type of therapy that involves changing negative thoughts into more constructive ones before they affect emotions and behaviors. Because many of those with adult ADD have intrusive, critical, or obsessive thoughts, CBT can be a very effective treatment method for them. It’s vital that you see a doctor who has experience treating ADD with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is you are interested in this treatment.
- Family Therapy – An individual’s diagnosis of ADD often affects everyone around him and is especially challenging for his or her family. Bringing willing family members into counseling sessions can be helpful for both the patient and for those they love. Family members can talk about their feelings and learn new strategies for strengthening their relationship with the patient.
Being diagnosed with adult ADD should feel like a new beginning. Many now understand why they have struggled their entire lives just to keep up with what comes easily to others and are encouraged to know that they now can receive treatment to improve how they handle life situations. For those who are just starting their journey with ADD treatment, non-medication strategies such as mindfulness, counseling, and therapy can be good places to start. To talk to an expert about adult ADD treatments, please stop at our San Francisco clinic to learn more.