Managing ADHD as an Adult
Many people think of ADHD as a childhood disorder. After all, media typically talks about the disorder in terms of its effects on children, and the diagnostic criteria were developed with children in mind. However, the mental health profession is beginning to recognize that the disorder is likely underreported in adults.
As professionals and the general public start to understand that ADHD affects people of all ages, more adults are getting help for symptoms that may have plagued them for a lifetime. As such, the number of adults getting diagnosed with ADHD rose 123 percent between 2007 and 2016.
An ADHD diagnosis can help people connect dots that had once seem scattered. Patients may understand themselves and the events in their lives in new ways. However, the diagnosis can also be unnerving for many. It’s important for all adults who have confirmed ADHD or suspect they may have it to know one thing: it is manageable.
Identify Your Symptoms
No two people with ADHD are exactly alike. Both adults and children can have one of three types of ADHD:
- Predominantly Inattentive
- Predominantly Hyperactive (formerly called ADD)
Each type of ADHD has a different list of symptoms. For example, patients with Primarily Hyperactive or Combination ADHD may fidget and have trouble sleeping. Furthermore, patients can live with some of the symptoms in their type and not others.
It’s important for each patient to identify their unique set of symptoms. Although such a process can be difficult, knowing what you’re dealing with can help you find the coping mechanisms that suit you best. Counselors can help you discover the symptoms you struggle with most.
Find Coping Mechanisms That Work for You
Once you know what your symptoms are, you can find solutions that help you manage your life. Perhaps one of the most helpful non-medication solutions for people with ADHD is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).
Many people with ADHD have loud, outright cruel inner critics. These inner monologues develop after years of trying to be like peers but struggling to focus in the same ways. In CBT, patients learn to stop criticizing themselves. Although CBT was not developed with ADHD in mind, new studies show it can be effective for such patients.
Other popular coping mechanisms for adults with ADHD include:
- Practice mindfulness
- Prioritize sleep
- Pay attention to nutrition
- Make schedules and routines
- Repeat positive affirmations
- Get plenty of exercise
- Use reminders on your phone
The important thing is to find what works for you. Counselors can give patients personalized tips for dealing with ADHD in their daily lives.
Even with all the best coping mechanisms in the world, some people with ADHD need medication. There is no shame in relying on medication to stabilize yourself. As with children, stimulants are the first option for medicating adults with ADHD. This may seem counterintuitive to some people. After all, stimulants make most people feel more wired.
However, certain stimulants can allow people with ADHD to have thoughts that are more organized. Patients who do not tolerate stimulants well also have other options available. No matter what ADHD medications patients take, medication management will be important. This involves regular appointments with psychiatrists to ensure the treatments work as planned.
If you believe you may have adult ADHD, be sure to get evaluated by a professional. If you have recently been diagnosed with ADHD, do not lose hope. In both situations, FLBH can help. Our counselors and psychiatrists can give patients the insights and tools they need to not only manage ADHD, but thrive in spite of it.