ADHD in children and adolescents has been in the news a lot lately; there was the study revealing that teens with ADHD are more likely to be in car wrecks than other adolescents. Another body of research discovered that children of women who took acetaminophen during pregnancy are more like to be diagnosed with ADHD, especially if their mothers were exposed to it during more than one trimester.
But what if you’re an adult who’s been diagnosed with ADHD? The disorder doesn’t go away, and in many instances it actually gets worse with age.
Symptoms of Adult ADHD
ADHD may present itself differently in adults — instead of being blatantly hyper, adults with the condition are easily distracted.
Interestingly, adults with ADD have a tendency to hyper focus — to tune in to an activity so completely that they are unable to redirect their attention elsewhere. Other symptoms include:
- inability to control inappropriate behavior
- difficulty making decisions
- inability to switch problem solving strategies
- poor organizational skills
- working on many projects all at once without finishing any of them
- trouble with follow through on commitments and promises
- chronic lateness, which is the result of an inability to structure their time constructively
- low frustration tolerance
- feelings of underachievement, regardless of performance
- tendency to chronically worry
As with any situation or circumstance, knowledge is power — an adult with ADHD can manage the disorder much better by realizing there’s a reason for their distractedness and low frustration level.
Stimulant medications, such as Ritalin and Adderall can be prescribed to with distractedness and impulsivity; caffeine can also help. In addition, behavior modifications such as the following can be tremendously beneficial:
- Get regular exercise. The adult with ADD often feels restless — vigorous exercise is very effective in redirecting thought processes
- Have some simple routines in place in order to keep up with appointments and routine tasks. I figured out a long time ago that overly complex organizational strategies simply do not work for me (I was diagnosed at age 35).
- Hire someone to do tasks that are difficult for you to keep up with. I have a woman come in once a week to help me organize paper work, etc.
It also helps to have a sense of humor about the whole thing — my kids and I still laugh thinking about the time I put my keys in the refrigerator, right along with the milk I’d just bought at the grocery store.
Above all, be gentle with yourself — ADD “is what it is”, and while managing it may not be easy, it doesn’t have to be debilitating.