Are you an adult who wonders if you have ADHD?

All of us have moments when we procrastinate, feel distracted, unmotivated, and forgetful. When does it become problematic? How do you know if what you are experiencing is actually adult ADHD (Adult Attention Hyperactivity Disorder)?

Consider this excerpt from an ADHD Story (author unknown):
I decide to water my flowerpots in the front garden.
As I go to turn on the hose, I look over at my car and decide it needs washing.
I go to get the car keys from the front hall table and then notice the mail.
I decide to go through the mail before I wash the car.
I put my car keys on the table and put the junk mail in the trash.
Uh-oh, I notice the basket is full.
But before I empty it, I may as well pay some bills.
I get my checkbook and notice I only have one check left.
My other checks are on my computer desk but first I notice my tea is cold.
So I decide to heat it but first see the reading glasses I had been searching for…

Get the picture?
At the end of the day:

The flowerpots are not watered.
The car is not washed.
The trash is still overflowing.
The bills are not paid.
Only one check remains in my checkbook.
My tea is still cold where I left it.
I can’t find my glasses again.
I have absolutely NO idea what I did with my car keys.
Then, when I try to work out why nothing got done today, I’m really baffled because I know I was busy all day, and I am really tired.
I realize this is a serious problem and I’ll try to get some help for it…

Do other adults have ADHD?

If you are an adult with ADHD, you are not alone. According to the CHADD (Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder) Organization, approximately 10 million adults in the U.S. are diagnosed with ADHD.

If you have undiagnosed and untreated ADHD, it can cause issues in your relationships, finances, work, and driving habits. These wide-reaching effects can lead to embarrassment, frustration, hopelessness, disappointment, and loss of confidence. Understanding what the source of your problems are can help your self-concept as well as how those close to you respond.

What ADHD is not:

• It is not because you don’t prioritize.
• It is not because you are unintelligent.
• It is not because you are unmotivated.
• It is not because you don’t care.
• It is not because you don’t pay attention.
• It is not because you want to rush.

On the other hand, especially as an adult, you can take responsibility for yourself. Rather than consider ADHD as an excuse for your problems, it would be much better to consider it as an opportunity to challenge yourself to find various strategies to make accommodations. People often resist the notion of medication; however, according to Dr. Thomas Brown, who has spent over 25 years conducting extensive research on ADHD, “Unless brain chemistry is changed [through medication], other interventions are not likely to be very effective.”

The Brown Model of ADHD

Dr. Brown explains that ADHD is a result of problems related to the brain that impair Executive Function. What does this mean? It means the following executive functions are weakened in ADHD:

1. Activation – Do you find it hard to organize tasks and materials and to prioritize? Do you procrastinate beginning?
2. Focus – Do you find it difficult to sustain and avoid daydreaming except for activities you really enjoy, like video games?
3. Effort – Is it problematic to stay alert for longer projects and difficult to turn off thoughts so you can fall asleep?
4. Emotion – Are you easily frustrated, angry, worried, demanding?
5. Memory – Are you confused by remembering some facts but not others?
6. Action – Is your behavior impulsive, over-stimulated, or do you have trouble filtering what you say to others?

If you are an adult diagnosed with ADHD, now what?

The treatment combination of medication, therapy, education, job choice, and some creativity to optimize your strengths can help adults manage ADHD symptoms. Its never too late to start.

Contact Dr. Barb