ADHD is assumed by most people to be a childhood disorder, but many adults struggle with it as well. If they were not diagnosed as a child, they may have no idea that the difficulties they experience are connected to an actual disorder. Diagnosing ADHD in general can be difficult, but it is often more difficult in adults because the symptoms may be mistaken for other disorders or diseases. For example, adults who suffer from ADHD often have difficulties at work and in relationships. These difficulties can lead to depression and anxiety, allowing other symptoms to be overlooked.
Adult sufferers of ADHD often have difficulty focusing and tuning out distractions. Participating in conversation with others can also be a challenge when behaviors such as zoning out when someone else is talking, or the inability to stay on one topic when speaking are common. Emotionally, adults with ADHD often have unpredictable moods, low tolerance for frustration and high anxiety levels. These problems are exacerbated when procrastination, disorganization, and the inability to start and/or finish projects create negative consequences in a job or family setting.
Impulsivity, or the inability to regulate behavior also manifests in adult ADHD. Speaking without thinking, jumping to irrational conclusions, rash decision making, and extreme risk taking can be key indicators in the disorder.
On the positive side, people with ADHD are often highly creative and intelligent. Many artists, musicians and writers have ADHD and are able to turn some of their difficulties into benefits. Although there is not a cure for ADHD, there are ways to manage the symptoms.
Five Ways to Manage Adult ADHD
1. Medication- Some adults find that medication can help reduce certain symptoms. Doctors traditionally prescribed the same medications used to treat children with ADHD, but there is now currently one FDA approved drug that is specific for the treatment of adult ADHD. Anti-depressants are also prescribed sometimes instead of a stimulant drug. However, some adults find that the side effects of medication are difficult to deal with.
2. Behavior therapy-Having a professional to talk to about the struggles and frustrations caused by ADHD can be very beneficial, especially if relationships with coworkers and loved ones are affected. Therapy is a good way to learn coping skills to deal with relationship challenges created by the disorder. Also, becoming educated about ADHD can bring awareness of behaviors and can help the patient learn to make some adjustments. Utilizing relaxation techniques can be therapeutic and can aid a patient in controlling anxiety and frustration which can also wreak havoc on one’s life and relationships.
3. Find an outlet- Find something that you are passionate about and do it. Adults with ADHD usually have a lot of creativity and intelligence. Find something in which you can focus these traits and any excessive energy you may have.
4. Incorporate tools that help you organize your life. Use calendar tools on your phone or computer that can alert you before appointments begin. Write yourself notes or have your family write notes to help you remember things.
5. Use cognitive skill boosting activities that strengthen memory, critical thinking, focus and attention, and coordination. Activities should be challenging but not frustrating. It is also best if they can be done in shorter periods of time and don’t have a complex list of rules. Coordination activities and Critical Thinking activities can be helpful in improving concentration and planning skills. We recommend Juggling Scarves, Rush Hour, Bucky Balls, Meta-Forms, Dao and Pentago for challenging and strengthening these skills. Our Brain Fitness Software programs like Insight, NeuroActive Complete and Dakim Brain Fitness work in very specific ways to program our bodies and our brains to focus and to filter out distraction. They can also improve memory skills.