Friday, September 27, 2013

ADHD In Adults. A Widespread Problem And Unrecognized Menace To Marriage

Alan: In my own experience of ADHD adults, I notice that relentless fretfulness, impulsivity, distractability and chronic lateness are primary characteristics. In some adults, I have noticed that the use of extensive "lists" enables successful management -- or masking? -- of underlying disorganization. One ADHD sufferer in my circle of friends has sublimated his hyperactivity with hyper-productivity and, as a result, is highly-regarded by his professional peers. Unaware of his affliction, this same fellow blithely projects unreasonably high expectations of hyper-productivity onto his spouse - with profoundly corrosive impact on the quality of their marriage. (N.B. Children whose mothers smoked and drank during pregnancy are unusually prone to ADHD.)


"Adult ADD / ADHD" 


Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: 

ADHD in Adults

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is one of the most well-recognized childhood developmental problems. This condition is characterized by inattention, hyperactivity and impulsiveness. It is now known that these symptoms continue into adulthood for about 60% of children with ADHD. That translates into 4% of the U.S. adult population, or 8 million adults. However, few adults are identified or treated foradult ADHD.    What is Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)?

Recommended Related to ADD-ADHD

If you have adult ADHD, medications can bring about huge improvements in your life, restoring your focus and giving you back a feeling of control. But for some people, these drugs come with a price – side effects. Most of the time, ADHD medication side effects are mild -- like upset stomach or insomnia -- and fade after a few weeks or months of treatment. Other times, side effects can be more problematic. The good news is that there are plenty of things you can do – on your own and with your doctor...

ADHD in Adults

Adults with ADHD may have difficulty following directions, remembering information, concentrating, organizing tasks, or completing work within time limits. If these difficulties are not managed appropriately, they can cause associated behavioral, emotional, social, vocational, and academic problems.

Adult ADHD Statistics

  • ADHD afflicts approximately 3% to 10% of school-aged children and an estimated 60% of those will continue to have symptoms that affect their functioning as adults.
  • Prevalence rates for ADHD in adults are not as well determined as rates for children, but fall in the 4% to 5% range.
  • ADHD affects males at higher rate than females in childhood, but this ratio seems to even out by adulthood.

Common Behaviors and Problems of Adult ADHD

The following behaviors and problems may stem directly from ADHD or may be the result of related adjustment difficulties:
  • Chronic boredom
  • Chronic lateness and forgetfulness
  • Depression
  • Difficulty concentrating when reading
  • Difficulty controlling anger
  • Employment problems
  • Impulsiveness
  • Low frustration tolerance
  • Low self-esteem
  • Mood swings
  • Poor organization skills
  • Procrastination
  • Relationship problems
  • Substance abuse or addiction
These behaviors may be mild to severe and can vary with the situation or be present all of the time. Some adults with ADHD may be able to concentrate if they are interested in or excited about what they are doing. Others may have difficulty focusing under any circumstances. Some adults look for stimulation, but others avoid it. In addition, adults with ADHD can be withdrawn and antisocial, or they can be overly social, going from one relationship to the next.

School-Related Impairments Linked to Adult ADHD

Adults with ADHD may have:
  • Had a history of poorer educational performance and been underachievers
  • Had more frequent school disciplinary actions
  • Had to repeat a grade
  • Dropped out of school more often

Work-Related Impairments Linked to Adult ADHD

Adults with ADHD are more likely to:
  • Change employers frequently and perform poorly
  • Have less job satisfaction and fewer occupational achievements, independent of psychiatric status

Social-Related Impairments Linked to Adult ADHD

Adults with ADHD are more likely to:
  • Have a lower socioeconomic status
  • Have driving violations such as being cited for speeding, having their license suspended, and being involved in more crashes
  • Rate themselves and others as using poorer driving habits
  • Use illegal substances more frequently
  • Smoke cigarettes
  • Self-report psychological maladjustment more often 


Adult ADHD Slide Show:


Adult ADD / ADHD

Signs, Symptoms, Effects, and Treatment

Adult ADD / ADHD Symptoms
Life can be a balancing act for any adult, but if you find yourself constantly late, disorganized, forgetful, and overwhelmed by your responsibilities, you may have ADD/ADHD. Attention deficit disorder affects many adults, and its wide variety of frustrating symptoms can hinder everything from your relationships to your career. But help is available—and learning about ADD/ADHD is the first step. Once you understand the challenges, you can learn to compensate for areas of weakness and start taking advantage of your strengths.

Understanding ADD / ADHD in adults

Attention deficit disorder is not just a problem in children. If you were diagnosed with childhood ADD/ADHD, chances are, you’ve carried at least some of the symptoms into adulthood. But even if you were never diagnosed with ADD/ADHD as a child, that doesn’t mean you can’t be affected by it as an adult.

Signs and symptoms of adult ADD / ADHD

In adults, attention deficit disorder often looks quite different than it does in children—and its symptoms are unique for each individual. The following categories highlight common symptoms of adult ADD/ADHD. Do your best to identify the areas where you experience difficulty. Once you pinpoint your most problematic symptoms, you can start to work on strategies for dealing with them.

Common adult ADD / ADHD symptoms: Trouble concentrating and staying focused

Adults with ADD/ADHD often have difficulty staying focused and attending to daily, mundane tasks. For example, you may be easily distracted by irrelevant sights and sounds, quickly bounce from one activity to another, or become bored quickly. Symptoms in this category are sometimes overlooked because they are less outwardly disruptive than the ADD/ADHD symptoms of hyperactivity and impulsivity—but they can be every bit as troublesome. The symptoms of inattention and concentration difficulties include:
  • “zoning out” without realizing it, even in the middle of a conversation
  • extreme distractibility; wandering attention makes it hard to stay on track
  • difficulty paying attention or focusing, such as when reading or listening to others
  • struggling to complete tasks, even ones that seem simple
  • tendency to overlook details, leading to errors or incomplete work
  • poor listening skills; hard time remembering conversations and following directions

Common adult ADD / ADHD symptoms: Hyperfocus

While you’re probably aware that people with ADD/ADHD have trouble focusing on tasks that aren’t interesting to them, you may not know that there’s another side: a tendency to become absorbed in tasks that are stimulating and rewarding. This paradoxical symptom is called hyperfocus.
Hyperfocus is actually a coping mechanism for distraction—a way of tuning out the chaos. It can be so strong that you become oblivious to everything going on around you. For example, you may be so engrossed in a book, a TV show, or your computer that you completely lose track of time and neglect the things you’re supposed to be doing. Hyperfocus can be an asset when channeled into productive activities, but it can also lead to work and relationship problems if left unchecked.

Common adult ADD / ADHD symptoms: Disorganization and forgetfulness

Common adult ADD / ADHD symptoms: Disorganization and forgetfulnessWhen you have adult ADD/ADHD, life often seems chaotic and out of control. Staying organized and on top of things can be extremely challenging—as is sorting out what information is relevant for the task at hand, prioritizing the things you need to do, keeping track of tasks and responsibilities, and managing your time. Common symptoms of disorganization and forgetfulness include:
  • poor organizational skills (home, office, desk, or car is extremely messy and cluttered)
  • tendency to procrastinate
  • trouble starting and finishing projects
  • chronic lateness
  • frequently forgetting appointments, commitments, and deadlines
  • constantly losing or misplacing things (keys, wallet, phone, documents, bills)
  • underestimating the time it will take you to complete tasks

Common adult ADD / ADHD symptoms: Impulsivity

If you suffer from symptoms in this category, you may have trouble inhibiting your behaviors, comments, and responses. You might act before thinking, or react without considering consequences. You may find yourself interrupting others, blurting out comments, and rushing through tasks without reading instructions. If you have impulse problems, being patient is extremely difficult. For better or for worse, you may go headlong into situations and find yourself in potentially risky circumstances. You may struggle with controlling impulses if you:
  • frequently interrupt others or talk over them
  • have poor self-control
  • blurt out thoughts that are rude or inappropriate without thinking
  • have addictive tendencies
  • act recklessly or spontaneously without regard for consequences
  • have trouble behaving in socially appropriate ways (such as sitting still during a long meeting)

Common adult ADD / ADHD symptoms: Emotional difficulties

Many adults with ADD/ADHD have a hard time managing their feelings, especially when it comes to emotions like anger or frustration. Common emotional symptoms of adult ADD/ADHD include:
  • sense of underachievement
  • doesn’t deal well with frustration
  • easily flustered and stressed out
  • irritability or mood swings
  • trouble staying motivated
  • hypersensitivity to criticism
  • short, often explosive, temper
  • low self-esteem and sense of insecurity

Common adult ADD / ADHD symptoms: Hyperactivity or restlessness

Hyperactivity in adults with ADD/ADHD can look the same as it does in kids. You may be highly energetic and perpetually “on the go” as if driven by a motor. For many people with ADD/ADHD, however, the symptoms of hyperactivity become more subtle and internal as they grow older. Common symptoms of hyperactivity in adults include:
  • feelings of inner restlessness, agitation
  • tendency to take risks
  • getting bored easily
  • racing thoughts
  • trouble sitting still; constant fidgeting
  • craving for excitement
  • talking excessively
  • doing a million things at once

You don’t have to be hyperactive to have ADD / ADHD

Adults with ADD/ADHD are much less likely to be hyperactive than their younger counterparts. Only a small slice of adults with ADD/ADHD, in fact, suffer from prominent symptoms of hyperactivity. Remember that names can be deceiving and you may very well have ADD/ADHD if you have one or more of the symptoms above—even if you lack hyperactivity.

Effects of adult ADD / ADHD

If you are just discovering you have adult ADD/ADHD, chances are you’ve suffered over the years for the unrecognized problem. People may have labeled you “lazy” or “stupid” because of your forgetfulness or difficulty completing tasks, and you may have begun to think of yourself in these negative terms as well.

Untreated ADD/ADHD has wide-reaching effects

ADD/ADHD that is undiagnosed and untreated can cause problems in virtually every area of your life.
  • Physical and mental health problems. The symptoms of ADD/ADHD can contribute to a variety of health problems, including compulsive eating, substance abuse, anxiety, chronic stress and tension, and low self-esteem. You may also run into trouble due to neglecting important check-ups, skipping doctor appointments, ignoring medical instructions, and forgetting to take vital medications.
  • Work and financial difficulties. Adults with ADD/ADHD often experience career difficulties and feel a strong sense of underachievement. You may have trouble keeping a job, following corporate rules, meeting deadlines, and sticking to a 9-to-5 routine. Managing finances may also be a problem: you may struggle with unpaid bills, lost paperwork, late fees, or debt due to impulsive spending.
  • Relationship problems.Relationship problems. The symptoms of ADD/ADHD can put a strain on your work, love, and family relationships. You may be fed up with constant nagging from loved ones to tidy up, listen more closely, or get organized. Those close to you, on the other hand, may feel hurt and resentful over your perceived “irresponsibility” or “insensitivity.”
The wide-reaching effects of ADD/ADHD can lead to embarrassment, frustration, hopelessness, disappointment, and loss of confidence. You may feel like you’ll never be able to get your life under control. That’s why a diagnosis of adult ADD/ADHD can be an enormous source of relief and hope. It helps you understand what you’re up against for the first time and realize that you’re not to blame. The difficulties you’ve had are symptoms of attention deficit disorder—not the result of personal weakness or a character flaw.

Adult ADD/ADHD doesn’t have to hold you back

When you have ADD/ADHD, it’s easy to end up thinking that there’s something wrong with you. But it’s okay to be different. ADD/ADHD isn’t an indicator of intelligence or capability. Certain things may be more difficult for you, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find your niche and achieve success. The key is to find out what your strengths are and capitalize on them.
It can be helpful to think about attention deficit disorder as a collection of traits that are both positive and negative—just like any other set of qualities you might possess. Along with the impulsivity and disorganization of ADD/ADHD, for example, often come incredible creativity, passion, energy, out-of-the-box thinking, and a constant flow of original ideas. Figure out what you’re good at and set up your environment to support those strengths.

Self-help for adult ADD / ADHD

Learn to recognize & reduce hidden stress

Watch 4 min. video: Quick Stress Relief

Armed with an understanding of ADD/ADHD’s challenges and the help of structured strategies, you can make real changes in your life. Many adults with attention deficit disorder have found meaningful ways to manage their symptoms, take advantage of their gifts, and lead productive and satisfying lives. You don’t necessarily need outside intervention—at least not right away. There is a lot you can do to help yourself and get your symptoms under control.
  • Exercise and eat right. Exercise vigorously and regularly—it helps work off excess energy and aggression in a positive way and soothes and calms the body. Eat a wide variety of healthy foods and limit sugary foods in order to even out mood swings.
  • Get plenty of sleep. When you’re tired, it’s even more difficult to focus, manage stress, stay productive, and keep on top of your responsibilities. Support yourself by getting between 7-8 hours of sleep every night.
  • Practice better time management. Set deadlines for everything, even for seemingly small tasks. Use timers and alarms to stay on track. Take breaks at regular intervals. Avoid piles of paperwork or procrastination by dealing with each item as it comes in. Prioritize time-sensitive tasks and write down every assignment, message, or important thought.
  • Work on your relationships. Schedule activities with friends and keep your engagements. Be vigilant in conversation: listen when others are speaking and try not to speak too quickly yourself. Cultivate relationships with people who are sympathetic and understanding of your struggles with ADD/ADHD.
  • Create a supportive work environment. Make frequent use of lists, color-coding, reminders, notes-to-self, rituals, and files. If possible, choose work that motivates and interests you. Notice how and when you work best and apply these conditions to your working environment as best you can. It can help to team up with less creative, more organized people—a partnership that can be mutually beneficial.

When to seek outside help for adult ADD / ADHD

If the symptoms of ADD/ADHD are still getting in the way of your life, despite self-help efforts to manage them, it may be time to seek outside support. Adults with ADD/ADHD can benefit from a number of treatments, including behavioral coaching, individual therapy, self-help groups, vocational counseling, educational assistance, and medication.
Treatment for adults with attention deficit disorder, like treatment for kids, should involve a team of professionals, along with the person’s family members and spouse.

Professionals trained in ADD/ADHD can help you:

  • control impulsive behaviors
  • manage your time and money
  • get and stay organized
  • boost productivity at home and work
  • manage stress and anger
  • communicate more clearly

Next step...

Self-help for adults with ADD/ADHD
Living with ADD / ADHD: How to Help Yourself. There’s hope for adult ADD/ADHD—no matter how out of control your life is, no matter how frazzled and frustrated you feel. With structure, support, and a personalized toolkit of self-help strategies, you can learn how to get organized, efficiently manage your time, take control of your finances, improve job performance, and boost your social skills.
Read: Help for Adult ADD / ADHD: Tips for Managing Symptoms and Getting Focused

Related Articles

Self–Help for Adult ADHDHelp for Adult ADD / ADHD – While ADD can create many challenges in adults, it is possible to find ways to get focused, turn chaos into calm, and overcome the symptoms.
ADHD TreatmentTreatment for Adult ADD/ADHD – There are many safe and effective treatments that can help improve the symptoms of ADD, boost your job performance, and improve your organizational and relationship skills.
ADHD MedicationADD / ADHD Medications – Medication can help reduce symptoms of ADD but there are side effects and other treatment options you also need to know about.
ADHD Tests & DiagnosisADD / ADHD Tests and Diagnosis – ADD/ADHD looks different in every person, so there are many different diagnostic tests to help determine if your symptoms really point to attention deficit disorder.

Emotional Self-Help Toolkit

Bring Your Life Into BalanceAdults with ADD/ADHD are especially vulnerable to stress and emotional overload, which in turn can make it even more difficult to focus and concentrate. Helpguide’s free Bring Your Life Into Balance Emotional Self-Help Toolkit can teach you skills for quickly managing stress and emotions so you can gain more control over yourself and your behavior.
Authors: Melinda Smith, M.A. and Robert Segal, M.A. Last updated: August 2013.

No comments:

Post a Comment