In today’s day and age, we are making gigantic progress, but often at the cost of our mental health. Our mental well-being is dependent on several factors, like the emotions we feel, our physical health, our lifestyle, etc.
When there is an extreme imbalance in our internal world, it manifests in the external world in the form of disorders. For some people, it may look like developing ADHD. ADHD (Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder) is a developmental mental health disorder characterized by persistent inattention, hyperactivity, and/or impulsivity symptoms.
ADHD symptoms typically start in childhood but are unrecognized or undiagnosed until the person becomes an adult.
Although ADHD doesn’t cause any other psychological or developmental problems, people with ADHD have a higher risk of additional problems like mood disorders, sleep, and anxiety disorders, or even learning disabilities, which is also why it is essential to get adult ADHD treatment.
What causes ADHD?
The exact causes of ADHD are still unknown, but here are a few factors that might be involved in ADHD development:
Research shows that ADHD tends to run in families. Thus, genetics plays a significant role in ADHD. Specific genes related to brain function are probably involved, although the exact mechanisms are still in research.
Exposure to environmental toxins, such as lead, during childhood, can have neurotoxic effects that may disrupt normal brain functioning and lead to ADHD symptoms.
Smoking, alcohol, or drug abuse during pregnancy, premature birth, or low birth weight can all influence a child’s brain development, leading to ADHD symptoms.
Neurodevelopmental conditions, learning disabilities, or learning difficulties
The intricate interconnections between various neural processes mean that disruptions in one area can have cascading effects, potentially leading to ADHD symptoms.
Conditions like anxiety and depression often co-occur with ADHD. The complex interplay between these disorders makes it challenging to discern which symptoms are specific to ADHD and which result from comorbid mental health conditions.
Damage to specific areas of the brain either in the womb or due to severe head injury. Damage to specific regions of the brain responsible for impulse control, attention regulation, and executive functions can result in behavior characteristic of ADHD.
Behavioral Disorders in Childhood
Behavioral disorders like ‘oppositional defiant disorder’ or ‘conduct disorder’ as children often precede or coexist with ADHD, sharing common underlying factors related to impulse control and emotional regulation.
Continued research is crucial to unravel the intricate web of factors contributing to ADHD, paving the way for more effective prevention and intervention strategies.
Adult ADHD symptoms
In adults, the main features of ADHD may include difficulty paying attention, impulsiveness, and restlessness. It often goes undiagnosed, as its symptoms can be mistaken for stress, mood disorders, or simply the challenges of modern life.
Recognizing the signs is crucial for accurate diagnosis and effective management.
Adult ADHD symptoms may include:
- Impulsiveness and frequent mood swings: Adults with ADHD may struggle to regulate their impulses, leading to impulsive decisions and unpredictable mood swings
- Disorganization and problems prioritizing: Difficulty organizing tasks, setting priorities, and managing time effectively. Adults with ADHD often find it hard to maintain order in their daily lives
- Problems focusing on a task, following through, and completing tasks: Challenges in maintaining focus on tasks, leading to unfinished projects. Adults with ADHD may start multiple tasks but struggle to follow through and complete them
- Hyperfocus: Paradoxically, some individuals experience intense concentration on a specific task to the exclusion of everything else. This hyperfocus can be a double-edged sword, sometimes helping productivity and at other times hindering it.
- Trouble multitasking and forgetfulness: Difficulty juggling multiple tasks simultaneously and a tendency to forget important details or appointments
- Excessive activity or restlessness, impulsivity, and anxiety: Restlessness, inner turmoil, and impulsive behavior often characterize adult ADHD. This constant restlessness can lead to an excess of energy that, if channeled positively, can be a tremendous asset
- Poor planning and time management skills: Adults with ADHD may find planning and managing time exceptionally challenging, leading to missed deadlines and disorganization in personal and professional aspects
- Low frustration tolerance and hot temper: Difficulty in handling frustration and a tendency to become irritable or angry, particularly in situations that require patience and sustained effort
- Trouble coping with stress and fatigue: Higher susceptibility to stress due to difficulty managing tasks and responsibilities. Fatigue can also be overwhelming, making it harder to focus and be productive
- Negative self-image and lack of motivation: Constant struggles can lead to a negative self-image and feelings of inadequacy, often accompanied by a lack of motivation to start or complete tasks
- Substance misuse: Some individuals with ADHD turn to substances like drugs or alcohol as a coping mechanism, leading to a higher risk of substance misuse
- Physical health concerns – Adults with ADHD might neglect physical health due to challenges in organizing and managing regular health check-ups or exercise routines.
- Relationship issues, like inattentiveness, easily bored, or interrupting someone in a conversation – These issues can strain personal and professional relationships
While there could be challenges, people with ADHD also have strengths like creativity, empathy, being a team player, energy that comes with being hyperactive, agreeableness, etc. Corporations tend to seek such individuals due to their strengths.
Understanding the multifaceted nature of adult ADHD is essential. While its challenges are evident, embracing the strengths associated with the condition can lead to a more inclusive and supportive environment. Individuals with ADHD, given the right resources and understanding, can harness their creativity, empathy, and high energy to excel both personally and professionally, showcasing that ADHD is not just a disorder but a unique way of experiencing the world.
When to visit a professional for adult ADHD treatments?
Almost everyone has experienced some of the symptoms mentioned above at some point. But if these symptoms are recent (currently, it is assumed that ADHD cannot develop for the first time in adulthood) or occasional, the person doesn’t have ADHD.
A person with ADHD experiences these symptoms to the extent that it severely impacts their day-to-day lives, like job performance and relationships. It is the time to speak to a medical professional experienced in adult ADHD treatment when the symptoms start to disrupt daily life activities.
Adult ADHD Diagnosis
There is no single test that confirms ADHD but diagnosis for adult ADHD typically includes:
- Physical examination to check if any other medical conditions might be causing the symptoms.
- Information gathering, such as any ongoing medical issues, personal and family history, etc. A person typically needs at least two detailed sessions with a mental health professional. In case an individual doesn’t remember much about their childhood, the medical professional might check the previous academic records and speak with family members of the individual.
- ADHD rating tests or psychological tests to get an insight into cognitive functioning, attention, and impulsivity.
An adult may be diagnosed with ADHD if they exhibit 5 or more symptoms of inattentiveness or 5 or more symptoms of hyperactivity and impulsiveness, as per the criteria outlined for ADHD in children.
Consulting a medical professional experienced in adult ADHD treatments is essential when symptoms persist, significantly disrupt daily activities, impact multiple areas of life, or raise safety concerns. Seeking help early can lead to effective management strategies, significantly improving the individual’s quality of life.
Common Misconceptions about adult ADHD treatments
There are so many myths regarding ADHD, let alone adult ADHD and its treatment. Here are some of the misconceptions and the facts behind those misconceptions:
- There’s no need for any medications for adult ADHD treatments: Yes, sometimes patients can manage ADHD only with behavioral therapy or ADHD coaching, but in many cases, medications are required. ADHD medications are, in fact, the most common method of adult ADHD treatment. ADHD medications are not a one-size-fits-all solution, and it’s essential to consult a healthcare professional to determine the most suitable treatment plan.
- ADHD is a disorder of childhood: ADHD is a lifespan disorder. Some studies have found that ADHD persists from childhood to adolescence (50%–80% cases) and into adulthood (35%–65% cases). Many individuals are diagnosed with ADHD for the first time in adulthood.
- ADHD medications are a “new” treatment: ADHD medications have been in use for over 50 years and have a long history of safe and effective use. They have undergone extensive research and development, leading to various formulations that cater to different needs and preferences of patients.
- ADHD medications cause side effects: ADHD medications, like any other medications, have side effects. However, they are usually mild and temporary. It’s crucial to work closely with a healthcare provider to monitor and manage any side effects effectively
- ADHD medications must be taken only during work: Each case is unique.
While for some people, it is required only during work, others might feel the need to take medications even outside work. ADHD affects people in various ways, and the medication schedule should be tailored to meet the specific needs and challenges faced by each individual.
What are some common adult ADHD treatments?
It cannot be stressed enough that different treatments work for different individuals. ADHD is a complex condition, and its symptoms can vary widely from person to person. Like diagnosis, there is no single treatment for adult ADHD. The most effective adult ADHD treatment comprises a combination of medications, psychological counseling, education, and skills training.
Medications for adults with ADHD
Kindly do not take any medications without consulting a medical professional.
Stimulants, like medicines with methylphenidate, lisdexamfetamine, dexamfetamine, or amphetamine, may be prescribed to balance brain chemicals (neurotransmitters) and help improve attention, focus, and impulse control
Other medications with non-stimulants like atomoxetine and antidepressants like bupropion or guanfacine can be prescribed when someone experiences health issues or side effects with stimulants. These medications work differently than stimulants and are tailored to individual needs, ensuring a personalized approach to treatment.
Different kinds of treatments work for different people. Thus, it is critical to speak with a mental health professional before undergoing any kind of treatment. A healthcare provider will assess the individual’s medical history, symptoms, and overall health before prescribing any medication.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) trains people with ADHD how to identify and convert negative behavioral and thought patterns into positive ones. Through CBT, individuals learn coping strategies, organizational skills, and time management techniques. This therapy helps develop positive habits and break the cycle of procrastination and impulsivity, which are common challenges faced by adults with ADHD.
Marital Counseling and Family therapy help navigate ADHD effectively with the patient’s loved ones because it impacts them too. Counseling and therapy provide a supportive environment to learn effective communication and coping skills and foster a more supportive and understanding atmosphere at home.
Adults diagnosed with ADHD can also join support groups and coaching to feel a sense of community and understanding. Other healthy habits in life, like getting a balanced diet, regular sleep, meditation, and managing stress, also help ensure that the body is well-equipped to manage life’s challenges.
ADHD can be disruptive but also very treatable. Recognizing and addressing ADHD in adulthood is not just about managing impulsivity or inattention; it’s about offering individuals the tools and strategies they need to thrive in all aspects of their lives.
Early intervention and targeted therapies improve the individual’s life and contribute to a healthier, more productive society. With the right support and tools, not only is adult ADHD manageable, but it can also help an individual discover their strengths, unlock their potential, and live a happy and fulfilling life.
Relevance Recovery is constantly working to improve systems and provide personalized counseling to people dealing with ADHD. Children with ADHD are best treated with behavioral therapy. In case, the condition is severe and it gets in the way of their ability to learn, they may be enrolled in a special education class. Adults may be treated with a combination of therapy and ADD adult medication treatment.
- What are the signs of ADHD in adults?
Signs of adult ADHD look like extreme impulsiveness, disorganization, poor focus, and restlessness that impact the day-to-day life of an individual. However, it also brings strengths like creativity and empathy.
- What are some common adult ADHD treatments?
ADHD symptoms are unique to an individual, and so are its treatments. While some individuals can cope well with counseling or lifestyle changes, others might have to take some medication.
- Can ADHD be managed well in adults?
Yes, ADHD can be managed very well in adults by taking the right steps, like consulting a mental health professional and following a healthy lifestyle.