Adult ADHD: Spinning Like A Top
A significant number (up to 67%) of children diagnosed with ADHD will continue to experience symptoms throughout their lives. It’s more common in males than females, by a factor of about 2:1.
The key symptoms seen in children, inattention, hyperactivity and impulsiveness, may express themselves more subtly in adult behaviour. Inattention can manifest as difficulty following directions, remembering information, concentrating, organizing tasks, or dealing with deadlines/timelines. Hyperactivity shows up as restlessness. Impulsiveness can add to levels of distractibility and impair decision-making. Low tolerance for frustration is common, as are anxiety, depression and low self-esteem. The areas of life most commonly affected include academic, vocational and relationship situations.
Medical research has not yet determined exactly how ADHD develops but it seems to depend on a variety of genetic, environmental, and neurobiologic influences. A high degree of heritability, as much as 70%, suggests that genetic factors are strongly involved.
Diagnosis is made on the basis of the person’s medical history from childhood, along with the results of neuropsychological testing and a physical exam. Conditions such as thyroid problems, head trauma, heavy metal poisoning and other psychiatric conditions usually have to be ruled out as well.
Successful treatment of ADHD is usually based on a combination of medication, cognitive behavioral therapy, and life skills development. Accommodation in school and work environments may be also be necessary.
Once diagnosed, adults with ADHD often experience a sense of empowerment that helps them to develop self-management strategies. Here are some examples:
• Minimize distractions (eg, no clutter on desk, no working near windows)
• Develop a daily routine
• Use a calendar to schedule activities
• Make “to do” lists, and keep them in sight
• Keep note pads available to write down things to remember
• Use a filing system
• Take time each evening to prepare for the next day
• Work at personally optimal times of day
• Break large tasks down into smaller tasks and create respective deadlines
• Prioritize tasks
• Consider and determine pros and cons of multiple options before acting
• Delegate tasks when necessary
• Ask friends or family to remind of dates and deadlines
• Take a “time out” when becoming upset or frustrated
• Make multiple sets of keys
• Anger management
• Mindfulness training (eg, meditation)
• Self-reward for positive changes and symptom management
For more information about adult ADHD, please consult these resources:
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