Recognizing and understanding ADHD in adults

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Recognizing and understanding ADHD in adults

Even though Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is typically associated with children, up to 10 million adults also have it.  If you were diagnosed with ADHD as a child chances are you still have some of those symptoms now as an adult.  If you find yourself disorganized, constantly late, forgetful and overwhelmed by responsibilities, ADHD most likely has followed you into adulthood.

Even if you were not diagnosed with ADHD as a child it does not mean you did not have it growing up.  Years ago, ADHD often went unrecognized.  Children who were labeled by parents or teachers as a dreamer, a goof-off or a troublemaker may have actually had ADHD.  ADHD looks different in adults than what it does children.  Every adult with ADHD will have their own unique signs of it but here are some common symptoms that may indicate a possibility of ADHD:

·      Trouble concentrating and staying focused

In adults, ADHD can manifest itself in being easily distracted, becoming bored quickly, or bouncing from one activity to another. 

 Adults with ADHD will find it difficult to pay attention or focus on a conversation.  They often “zone out” when interacting with others.

·      Struggles to complete tasks

When given a task to do, adults with ADHD will often find it extremely hard to meet deadlines and keep on track.  They also may have a tendency to overlook important details that may lead to mistakes and errors or work that is incomplete.

·      Poor listening skills

These are the adults who seem to be paying attention to everything else except for what you are saying.  They may not be able to reflect back what you just said demonstrating that they were not really listening.  Their ADHD tendencies make it hard for them to follow directions. They may also frequently interrupt others while talking or talk over them. 

·      Easily distracted

Because they are so easily distracted, they will have a harder time getting a job done or following through on completing a task.

·      Poor organizational skills

Having ADHD as an adult may mean their home, office, desk, or car is very messy and cluttered.  They will procrastinate putting things off until the last minute.  If they start a project, the may have trouble finishing it. 

People with ADHD are the ones who always show up late for everything, or they forget appointments, commitments, deadlines or underestimate the amount of time to complete a task. They also frequently misplace items such as their keys, wallet, phone, documents and bills to pay.

·      Restlessness

Sometimes some of the symptoms of ADHD in children is what is observed in adults.  Adults with ADHD may be highly energetic or always “on the go.”  They may exhibit agitation, racing thoughts, fidgeting, or trouble sitting still.  Boredom comes easily to them and they may crave excitement with a tendency to take risks. 

Help for adult ADHD

Once an adult with ADHD has been diagnosed can they then have a better understanding of their challenges but also strengths to help them make meaningful changes in their life.  Discovering ways to manage their ADHD tendencies channeling them into taking advantage of their special gifts, can lead them to more productive and satisfying lives. 

For many adults, simply changing certain factors within their lifestyle can make a big difference in dealing with their symptoms:

·      To burn off excess energy, establishing a regular vigorous workout is a positive way to soothe and calm the body. 

·      Be sure to get at least 6-8 hours of sleep a night.  Lack of sleep will only make it more difficult to focus, manage stress, stay productive and stay on track with responsibilities.

·      Learn better methods of time management.  Declutter workspaces, use timers to stay on time, use a calendar for setting and meeting deadlines, prioritize tasks from what absolutely needs to get done right away to what can wait.

·      Work on building better relationships.  Make time to be with family and friends.  Learn to be a better listener and conversationalist.   Concentrate on what others are saying before you speak.

·      If symptoms of ADHD keep getting in the way of your life, seek outside help.  There are a variety of professionals from behavioral coaching, individual therapy, self-help groups and medication that can be necessary to gain control of the symptoms.  Trained professionals can help someone with ADHD to control impulsive behaviors, manage time and money, get and stay organized, boost productivity, manage stress and anger, and learn better communication skills.