Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

While the condition is most often associated with children,  Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)  can continue into adulthood for many individuals;  and there are some adults who may not even know that they have the disorder.  Adults who are living with the condition,  and especially those who are undiagnosed and untreated,  may be experiencing a number of problems,  some of which stem directly from the disorder and others that are the result of associated adjustment patterns.

Symptoms of an adult with ADHD may include

  • Distractability
  • Disorganization
  • Depression
  • Forgetfulness
  • Low self-esteem
  • Mood swings
  • Procrastination
  • Employment problems
  • Chronic lateness
  • Restlessness
  • Chronic boredom
  • Substance abuse or addictions
  • Anxiety
  • Relationship problems

The symptoms of ADHD can be variable and situational,  or constant.  Some people with ADHD can concentrate if they are interested or excited,  while others have difficulty concentrating under any circumstance.  Some avidly seek stimulation while others avoid it.  Some become opposition all,  ill-behaved and anti-social while others may become ardent people-pleasers.  Some are outgoing, some withdrawn.

So you have ADHD,  now what?

Methods of treatment supported by professionals may include a combination of techniques such as education for the individual and his or her family and close friends,  educational or employment accommodations,  medication and psychotherapy.  Appropriate treatment is determined based on the presenting symptoms and their severity.  Most people with the diagnosis who pursue appropriate treatment are able to cope quite successfully with ADHD and can lead happy and balanced lives.

Some tips that individuals have found useful include

  • Using internal structure,  such as planners,  lists,  notes to self,  color coding,  routines,  reminders and files.
  • Choose "good addictions" such as exercise and other healthy activities for a regular structured "blow out" time.
  • Set up a rewarding environment by designing projects and tasks to minimize or eliminate frustration.  Break large tasks into smaller components and prioritize.
  • Use "time-outs" to calm down and regain perspective when upset,  overwhelmed,  or angry.  Walk away from the situation if needed.
  • Use humor.  It's useful if partners and colleagues are continually providing a push to help one stay on track as long as it is done with humor and sensitivity.  Learn to view symptoms with humor and to joke with close family and friends about getting lost or being forgetful.  It's helpful not to take this too seriously.
  • Become educated and an educator.  Read books and talk to professionals or other individuals with ADHD.  Let people who matter know about your own strengths and challenges related to ADHD.  Be an advocate for yourself and for others with ADHD.
Note: This information is not intended to provide a diagnosis.  Only a professional can diagnose.  If you believe you or someone you know may have ADHD,  contact a mental health professional in your area or contact Jamie Brecht at  jbrecht@mhand.org  to help you find a provider in your area.