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Adult ADHD

Do you find it hard to concentrate when listening to a conversation? Or do the people close to you complain about your unintentional lack of focus? Do you leave your big work assignment to the very last moment and instead work on unimportant things around the office? If you can relate to any of these scenarios there is a chance you may have adult ADHD.

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a condition with symptoms of inattentiveness, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. Often ADHD is found while an individual is still a child, however, many adults have gone through life with ADHD but without a diagnosis. ADHD manifests differently in girls and boys, at a young age boys typically show more notable signs of ADHD. In adulthood women are the large majority, being diagnosed with ADHD.


Symptoms of Adult ADHD

Many adults with ADHD have learned to look attentive even when they don’t comprehend what is being said. Adults with ADHD are easily distracted, have poor planning and organizational skills, and suffer from volatile mood swings. They often seek out excitement and risks to better concentrate, resulting in an impulsive and restless nature. Typical symptoms of adults with ADHD include trouble getting organized, restlessness, trouble starting or finishing a task, and relationship problems. Adult ADHD typically will have another disorder attached as well: anxiety, depression, addiction, sleep disorder, personality disorder, or bipolar disorder. These disorders along with ADHD result in problems with functioning at school, work, or with other people.


How Adult ADHD Affects Daily Life

Adults with ADHD are often considered “a jack of all trades and a master of none”. (Adult ADHD, Sandra Kooij) They may have an inability to focus on friends, hobbies, or conversation because they are distracted easily and are unable to complete tasks around others. An adult with undiagnosed ADHD has often spent their lives adapting to the symptoms. Yet despite learning to cope, certain symptoms generally present themselves.

Lack of Focus/Hyperfocus: Often people with ADHD struggle to listen to others or miss seemingly conspicuous details, this lack of focus is evident in a relationship with a significant other when conversations appear one sided or when a scheduled event is forgotten. The flip side is hyperfocus. Hyperfocus happens when a person with ADHD finds an object or subject to fixate on for long periods of time. This deep focus provides a considerable amount of stimulant to the brain. During these times of hyperfocus the individual with ADHD struggles to pull their concentration away, often inhibiting their performance at work or school.

Impulsivity: Another common symptom of ADHD are strong irrational impulses. This may manifest mildly such as repeatedly interrupting a close friend while they speak. Or severely by acting without considering the consequences -- like cheating on a relationship.

Emotional imbalance: Angry outbursts are also a symptom of ADHD. Emotions for individuals with ADHD can be turbulent and as a byproduct they may affect the emotions of those around them.


How is Adult ADHD Diagnosed?

ADHD doesn’t all of the sudden develop overnight as an adult. If ADHD is present than those symptoms began during childhood. To produce a proper diagnosis a professional will look for four things:

  • Psychological Testing: to measure mental and behavioral characteristics.

  • A neuropsychiatric evaluation: to determine whether other medical conditions are generating similar symptoms

  • Blood tests

  • A history of your health


How is Adult ADHD Treated?

It is less common for a child to reach adulthood undiagnosed, but it still happens. As an adult with ADHD, an evaluation with a medical professional will help prescribe the proper treatment to produce high functioning results. ADHD Treatments include:

Therapy: Cognitive-behavioral therapy, (talk therapy) which can help manage your problems, for adults with ADHD these problems are typically executive functioning skills, by changing the way you think and behave.

Medication: There are many medications used to curve the symptoms of ADHD, stimulants and nonstimulants. Depending on your particular case medication may be appropriate.

Education: It’s important to know what your weaknesses are and how to work around them. Life coaching and job coaching can teach you how to stay organized and help you find a support system.

Family education and therapy: to help relatives understand ADHD and find ways to reduce the influence of ADHD in everyday life. Knowing more about ADHD symptoms also allows more sensitive reactions when symptoms arise.

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