Adult ADHD

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is a disorder that begins in childhood, and for around 70% of people continues into adulthood.  The symptoms of ADHD can change over time and are often different in adulthood than in childhood.

ADHD symptoms

Symptoms of ADHD can be divided into three categories:

  1. Poor attention and focus:  People with ADHD have a difficult time maintaining sustained attention on tasks that they find boring or difficult.  This leads to a pattern of procrastinating on important tasks until external pressure such as deadlines builds and forces you to finally get started.  People with ADHD often do well under these high pressure situations, and can hyper-focus and tune out all external stimuli. The problem is that sometimes they have waited too long and they miss deadlines, or end up doing poor work, or pay a mental price because they constantly put themselves under high stress situations.  People with ADHD in adulthood like to develop routines, and find breaking out of the routine and doing something new or different very difficult and stressful.

  2. Impulsivity:  Impulsivity means acting before thinking about consequences.   Impulsivity can become problematic if the consequences of actions taken outweigh the immediate gratification they bring. Impulsivity leads to a variety of problems in teenage and adult years including gambling and substance addiction, overspending, legal problems, difficulty maintaining friendships and jobs, trouble waiting (lineups, traffic) etc…

  3. Hyperactivity: hyperactivity refers to both an external/physical state of being overactive (trouble sitting still, fidgeting, pacing, etc…) and an internal state of disquiet and restlessness.  Physical hyperactivity is more prevalent in children and often becomes internalized in adulthood.  Adults are more likely to exhibit symptoms such as being easily agitated and angered, being easily bored, edgy, dissatisfied, and having low self-esteem.

ADHD impact on adults

As people with ADHD get older, they can learn to adapt to their symptoms.  For example they may develop very rigid (but effective) systems of organizing themselves, or they may find that they do very well with more physical jobs or jobs that utilize overlearned skills.  Others may struggle holding down jobs, or completing school, and know that they are functioning at a lower level than their abilities.   ADHD is associated with developing many other psychological problems later in life, such as: depression, low self-esteem, anxiety, addictions, and an addictive pattern of video gaming. 

Solutions

If you feel you may suffer from ADHD, book an appointment online or give me a call.  The first step is to do a proper assessment to see if you have ADHD or not.  If you do, then we can discuss options, which will depend on your preferences and the ways in which ADHD is affecting you.  The solutions can include medication and behavioural techniques to help you gain better control over your symptoms.  Medications for ADHD tend to be well tolerated and typically have good outcomes.  I can arrange a referral to well qualified psychiatrists whom I work with for a consultation about medications.  There are also a variety of behavioural techniques that are specifically designed to help with ADHD and have been shown to be effective if properly taught and used and I can work with you to use these techniques to gain control over your symptoms, rather than allow your symptoms to control your life.

Don’t be afraid of the label

I often hear my adolescent and adult clients with ADHD become stressed out (and even depressed) about the notion of having a “disorder” or “mental illness” and refuse treatment.  I sometimes think that these terms are unfortunate, and do more harm than good (if they are improperly used or misunderstood).  ADHD is a condition that may have actually been adaptive at certain times or in specific settings.  A few hundred years ago, society didn’t demand us to sit for hours in classrooms or behind desks and do repetitive and boring tasks.  A person with ADHD can actually hyper-focus and do better than a person without ADHD under certain conditions.  When traits or conditions produce undesirable effects in our current environment, however, we call that trait or condition a “disorder”.  ADHD is simply not a good match with our current society.  In today’s society, ADHD does get in the way of success for many people and leads to many undesirable outcomes listed above.  Since we do have good workable solutions to help, you should take advantage of these solutions.  Do book an appointment today for an assessment or a discussion about treatment options.