When you hear the term ADHD, you probably imagine a kid who has trouble paying attention in school. But ADHD is not just a childhood problem. Somewhere between 4 and 5 percent of adults also struggle with ADHD and the many ways it can disrupt a responsibility-filled adult life.
Luckily, there are lots of treatments for adult ADHD. With the right combination of medication, therapy, and lifestyle changes, adult sufferers of ADHD can find the relief they’re looking for.
Symptoms of adult ADHD
The symptoms of Adult ADHD and childhood ADHD are similar, but they manifest in different ways. Many adults with ADHD don’t even suspect that they have it, they just know they’re always late, forgetful or have trouble staying on task.
Every person with ADHD is different, so no two lists of individual symptoms are the same. Some people experience a long list of symptoms, but some only experience one or two. It’s important to remember that everyone experiences the following symptoms of ADHD on occasion. But if your symptoms are ongoing, chronic, and affect your life, reach out to your doctor for an ADHD screening.
Symptoms of adult ADHD include:
- Difficulty concentrating
- Trouble remembering information
- Problems following directions
- Inability to finish work on time
- Chronic boredom
- Ongoing restlessness
- Trouble focusing while reading
- Difficulty controlling angry feelings
- Low tolerance for frustration
- Relationship problems
- Low motivation
What causes adult ADHD?
The causes of ADHD, both in children and adults, are not well known. However, there are some things that may make a person more likely to develop ADHD. Some ADHD risk factors include:
- Being born prematurely
- If your mother drank alcohol, smoked, or used illegal drugs during pregnancy
- If you have a genetic predisposition to ADHD, such as having close family members that have it
- Being exposed to environmental toxins such as lead as a child
How is adult ADHD diagnosed?
The symptoms of adult ADHD can mimic other conditions such as anxiety or depression, so when seeking an accurate diagnosis, look for a psychiatrist that specializes in adult ADHD. Getting the right diagnosis is paramount when seeking treatment that will actually work. Just like high blood pressure medicine won’t cure diabetes, finding the right diagnosis is a springboard to developing an effective treatment plan.
Once you find a psychiatrist that you trust, your doctor will likely do a combination of the following to see whether or not you are suffering from adult ADHD:
- Have a full physical workup done to make sure medical issues aren’t causing or contributing to your symptoms. This may include bloodwork.
- Do psychological testing or screening
- Ask about your school history. ADHD may be diagnosed in adulthood, but doctors agree that it does not suddenly develop overnight. Most people who are diagnosed with adult ADHD can look back and see signs starting in childhood.
Treatments for Adult ADHD
Most people with Adult ADHD find that they can adapt to and manage their condition to with the right treatment plan. Treatment for adult ADHD often includes a combination of medication, therapy, and lifestyle changes. Some of the possible treatments your psychiatrist may recommend include:
- Medications – There are a wide variety of medications, both stimulants and non-stimulants, that can help you manage ADHD symptoms.
- Cognitive and behavioral therapy – To help you address ongoing negative patterns
- Stress management training – Strategies to manage anxiety and deal with stress
- Life coaching – Some life coaches specialize in working with people who have ADHD, and they will help you channel your ADHD superpowers (yes, they exist) into positive behaviors that help you meet your goals.
- Family therapy – ADHD of one family member affects everyone in the household. Family therapy can help both the ADHD sufferer and their family members understand each other better and find solutions to maintain peace and harmony in the household.
Lifestyle changes for adults with ADHD
Living with adult ADHD can be frustrating. Forgetting birthdays, not finishing tasks at work, and being unable to focus on important things can leave you feeling like you are disappointing both the people in your life and yourself.
The first thing to remember is that having ADHD isn’t a character defect. There is no reason to feel guilty for the things your brain is unable to do that others may find easy. Your brain is just wired a little differently, and when you learn to work with your brain’s unique patterns, you can get everything done and feel good about your productivity.
Here are some tips that can help you manage your ADHD at home:
- Make lists – Have a list of to-dos every day for the tasks you need to accomplish. If you’re anticipating a large or complicated task, break it into bite-size chunks that you can tackle and complete quickly. Assign a time for each task, so you don’t procrastinate.
- Buy a planner – Then use it religiously! Having a planner will help you keep your tasks organized. Check it multiple times a day to make sure you stay on track with what you need to do that day.
- Organize one small thing at a time – Adults with ADHD often struggle with disorganization. Their cars, desks, backpacks, purses, and homes are filled with clutter that creates more chaos. “Getting organized” on a large scale is too intimidating for almost anyone, and especially someone with ADHD. Instead, pick one small thing to organize at a time, such as a single room or even a single item like a desk or bookcase. Once that’s finished, move on to the next. Keep going until everything is clutter-free.
- Choose a location for in-hand items – Your keys, phone charger, wallet, and sunglasses can all be kept in a bedside basket so you know where they are and where to drop them when you get home.
- Have a mail routine – Pick up your mail at the same time every day. Open it right away, and sort it into bills to pay, junk, and other. Once a week, pay the bills.
- Use electronic reminders – The reminder function on your phone can be a lifesaver if you have ADHD. As soon as you commit to a task like a lunch date, work meeting, or deadline, set a reminder in your phone.
Looking for help with adult ADHD in NYC?
The team at Dr. Ditzell Psychiatry helps adults with ADHD in New York City focus, get organized, and get things done. Weekend, evening, and Telehealth appointments available. Schedule your appointment online or call 646-751-7908.