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Manage your life with adult ADHD

Oh wait, I was supposed to get to that item on my to-do list. Did I forget to text her again? When was the last time I watered my plants? Oh look, Jennifer Lopez is with a new man, I wonder what kind of dress she’s wearing. And then someone in the background yells, “Bingo!” and you remember exactly where you’ve been the whole time. Sounds familiar?

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a term that we some times throw around when we have difficulty paying attention. Staying focused on tasks that we need to accomplish or putting off an item on your to do list that you just don’t want to tackle, is not the same thing as boredom. This mental disorder can easily affect your daily life if not treated properly.

Definition

So before we go around throwing out the term ADHD freely, let’s clear up some misconceptions of the disorder. 4-5 % of adults actually have ADHD, with even less of these people getting diagnosed and/or treated. It’s not something you can just catch or easily diagnose. If you have ADHD as an adult, get diagnosed with it, you most likely had it as a child. It doesn’t just sprout up in your brain as you get older. But this shouldn’t alarm you if you have kids that have been diagnosed with it, many kids will grow out of it and with 60% that will still have it as an adult. This is not a sexist disorder as it targets both men and women equally.

Symptoms

If you’re an adult and you think you may have ADHD, chances are you will have the following symptoms and have difficulty:

  • Following directions
  • Remembering information
  • Concentrating
  • Organizing Tasks
  • Finishing work on time

You will have a history at school of not doing well and under achieving, getting into trouble, repeating a grade (or two), and in some cases dropping out altogether. At work, you will change jobs a lot, performing poorly at each one; you may also be less happy with your job and having fewer successes at work.

This can all lead to having difficulties in life where you are more likely to smoke, get more speeding tickets, use alcohol and drugs (self-medicating), less money, and you could express other psychological trouble like being depressed and anxiety. Your relationships could go in a downward spiral and people with ADHD have more marital problems along with multiple marriages.

There is hope – get yourself diagnosed 

(by a professional)

Your doctor will ask for the normal, physical exam, blood tests, more psychiatric testing, a questionnaire about your health history, report cards from school, and could ask to talk to your parents about your childhood.

Treatment – Where Do I Go From Here?

Once you get diagnosed, you will get a great plan, that can vary. Getting yourself checked out is the primary focus first. After this you could end up having other disorders tagged on that your psychiatrist will want to take into consideration like depression, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, or a dependence on alcohol or drugs.

Your doctor may put you on a stimulant medication but this may not always be the best option as they are highly addictive, difficult to remember to take, and some people just have a hard time with them. There are non-stimulant brands of medical therapy. There are also the option to try other therapies and behavioral treatments such as relaxation training and stress management, life coaching, or family education and therapy.

There is help in management:

  1. Taking medication
  2. Organizing your day – make lists of things that you need to complete and acutally complete them. You can go online and find any planner that you know you will use. You just have to remember to actually use it. Not a planner person? Leave notes for yourself or set timers as a reminder to get to a place on time (like picking your kids up from school).
  3. Take long breaths when you feel anxiety begin to rise up.
  4. Cut down on your distractions. Social media is a great trigger for distracting people. If Facebook, emails, texts, Instagram, Snapchat, or whatever else is out there is your trigger – cut it out when you know you need to do a task. Put your phone on silent.
  5. Burn off extra energy – work out, this triggers your brain to focus on the task at hand and when moments get restless.
  6. Ask for help. As always, ask for help when you know things are getting in the mud.

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