Mental Health

Adult ADD: Symptoms and treatment


by Theresa Rose

As an adult who has suffered from ADD and ADHD since I was a young child, I’m unfortunately all too familiar with the symptoms. I’ve only recently become aware of the treatments.

What then are some of the symptoms that adults with ADD or ADHD have?

*Most ADD and ADHD suffers typically exhibit an inability to concentrate or focus or they will hyper-focus on some things.

*Following through on things is very hard for people with ADD or ADHD to do.

*It is also not uncommon for someone with ADD or ADHD to forget to pay bills on time or at all.

*Most ADD and ADHD suffers are extremely disorganized. Unless they force themselves to become organized about every aspect of their life, they will continue to repeat the same mistakes they’ve always made without learning from them.

*Adult ADD or ADHD sufferers are easily irritated when interrupted while they are doing things. Since it is so hard for any ADD or ADHD sufferer to focus on things, they are easily upset when they are interrupted.

*Adult suffers of ADD or ADHD are no different than children in that they can also get frustrated easily.

*Some adult ADD or ADHD suffers will resort to abusing substances. Cigarettes and alcohol have a calming effect that can be very attractive to someone who can’t get that calmness any other way.

*Adult ADD and ADHD sufferers often have trouble organizing their homes and doing basic housework, being able to get organized when going grocery shopping, planning menus, or getting things done on time.

*Adult ADD suffers will often consume quantities of coffee without suffering any of the ill effects that most people suffer from drinking too much coffee.

by Theresa Rose

As an adult who has suffered from ADD and ADHD since I was a young child, I’m unfortunately all too familiar with the symptoms. I’ve only recently become aware of the treatments.

What then are some of the symptoms that adults with ADD or ADHD have?

*Most ADD and ADHD suffers typically exhibit an inability to concentrate or focus or they will hyper-focus on some things.

*Following through on things is very hard for people with ADD or ADHD to do.

*It is also not uncommon for someone with ADD or ADHD to forget to pay bills on time or at all.

*Most ADD and ADHD suffers are extremely disorganized. Unless they force themselves to become organized about every aspect of their life, they will continue to repeat the same mistakes they’ve always made without learning from them.

*Adult ADD or ADHD sufferers are easily irritated when interrupted while they are doing things. Since it is so hard for any ADD or ADHD sufferer to focus on things, they are easily upset when they are interrupted.

*Adult suffers of ADD or ADHD are no different than children in that they can also get frustrated easily.

*Some adult ADD or ADHD suffers will resort to abusing substances. Cigarettes and alcohol have a calming effect that can be very attractive to someone who can’t get that calmness any other way.

*Adult ADD and ADHD sufferers often have trouble organizing their homes and doing basic housework, being able to get organized when going grocery shopping, planning menus, or getting things done on time.

*Adult ADD suffers will often consume quantities of coffee without suffering any of the ill effects that most people suffer from drinking too much coffee.

*It isn’t unusual for adult ADD or ADHD sufferers to have a lot of trouble with relationships. Between the constant disorganization, the inability to focus on things, impulsive behavior, hair trigger temper and substance abuse, it should be no surprise that other adults often find it difficult to be around these people for very long. Without treatment, these relationships may not last.

*It is not unusual for ADD patients to suffer from sleep difficulties along with everything else.

*Without question, the most significant and devastating symptom that adult sufferers of ADD and or ADHD experience is difficulty getting or keeping jobs. When an adult sufferer of ADD or ADHD loses jobs regularly, they become so disillusioned that their self esteem suffers significantly. They may even hate themselves and behave in ways that show others that self-loathing.

What then is the way that adult ADD or ADHD is treated?

Doctors aren’t anxious to prescribe stimulant drugs to anyone, but if the results of a thorough testing process reveal that ADD or ADHD is in fact the diagnosis, then sometimes medication is a good option. That was definitely the case for me.

I currently take a once a day form of Ritalin (methylphenidate sulfate.) I’ve taken other forms of Ritalin including the generic, but the generic was much less effective than the brand name form.

There is only so much that medication can do. The diagnosis and medication are just the beginning. Learning how to live with the disorder and how to compensate for difficulties is essential. This isn’t something that will happen instantly, and sometimes it takes some trial and error to learn what works best for anyone. What works well for someone may not work at all for someone else.

For me, the biggest discovery was that I functioned best when I adhered to a strict schedule. I had to schedule everything. I still do. I plan things out in such a way that I don’t burn out, because I know that if I allow myself to burn out, I’m probably not going to want to do the things I need to do for a long time.

I do housework in increments. Rather than try to do everything on one day, I do different things. I have a “do it now” policy about everything. I never leave dishes to sit in the sink after meals. I have to do them immediately. Grocery shopping is done on the same day every week unless there are holidays. I carry a list and a calculator. I keep coupons with me too.

Planning all of the menus for the week is another helpful thing to do. If I plan things ahead, I can get what I need and then I know that I’ll have it when I need it. It’s easy to get frustrated when doing routine things around the house.

I keep daily “to do” lists and check things off as I do them. I always put appointments in the calendar as soon as I get home. My mail order pharmacy sends out reminders when I need to reorder my medications.

Writing everything down is also important. I always keep a pad of paper everywhere on my desk near my desktop computer, on the coffee table so I can reach it when I’m working on the laptop and near the telephone. I keep post it notes on hand so I can use them for reminders when necessary.

Whenever I am working on something, I make sure to take frequent breaks. If I work for too long at one time, it’s easy to lose focus or become too tired to think straight. By taking regular breaks if I’m working on something that requires a lot of time, I am able to work for a longer amount of time and maintain focus.

Diet and exercise are also important. I’ve learned that watching my diet is far more important than I ever imagined. Simple carbohydrates just make me tired and incapable of thinking as well as I’d like. Fruit, vegetables, whole grains and protein are important.

I do drink coffee but because I have such horrible sleep problems, I restrict coffee consumption to the morning. I may have an occasional cup of green tea in the afternoon, but I never consume any type of caffeine after 2:00 in the afternoon. Exercise helps with sleep, helps with relaxation and helps alleviate frustrations.

I don’t take naps because I know that would interfere with my sleep. I try to keep a regular schedule for bed, meals, exercise, working, housework and everything else. Structure is the glue that holds those of us who suffer from ADD or ADHD together.

Everyone has to learn what works best for them. Learning these things doesn’t happen overnight. Accept that you’re going to make mistakes in the learning process, and that making mistakes is natural. Don’t get all worked up and frustrated over the mistakes. That doesn’t accomplish anything.

ADD and ADHD are disorders. They are very similar, and overlap a lot. For me, the most important thing was getting tested because that gave me the official diagnosis. It wasn’t until I got that diagnosis that I started taking medication and was able to take the time to learn tricks that would work for me.

It’s been a long and very frustrating process, but I’m grateful that I received treatment and am glad that I’ve learned things that work for me. I am learning how to function better all the time.

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