Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) does not only affect children. One of the most common misconceptions surrounding ADHD is that it does only affect school-aged children. Because of this misconception, when you or another adult you care for is diagnosed with ADHD as an adult, it can be more than just a little shocking. After all, this is the disorder that affects kids. Adults aren’t hyperactive. You’re too old to have trouble paying attention or standing still. It has to be a misdiagnosis, and your doctor certainly doesn’t have any idea what he or she is talking about.
Your diagnosis is likely not a misdiagnosis. Adults are perfectly capable of suffering from ADHD, and understanding how it works is the first step in understanding this new diagnosis. First and foremost, you should understand precisely what ADHD is and what it means. The simple description of ADHD is that you have trouble remembering things, paying attention, organizing things going on in your life, and even following simple directions. It does not mean that there is anything wrong with you other than the fact that you have ADHD.
You Thought ADHD Was a Childhood Issue
Don’t feel discouraged for feeling this way; it’s a very persistent myth. It’s even easy to understand why you might feel this way, as only approximately 5% of adults are diagnosed with ADHD. If you have it now, you had it as a child. You simply were not diagnosed with ADHD when you were younger, and your doctor did not notice your symptoms until you are older. It is not something you develop as you get older.
Ask yourself a question. When you were younger, did you have any trouble paying attention in school, getting in trouble, or not doing well at school? All of these are signs of childhood ADHD that might have gone unnoticed or misunderstood by you and even the adults in your life. These same symptoms likely manifested themselves into your adult life, too. Perhaps you still find it difficult to pay attention or even to get organized. You are not alone, and knowing that should help you get through a diagnosis such as adult ADHD.
The Most Common Symptoms of Adult ADHD
Any medical issue comes with its fair share of complications, and adult ADHD is no different. There are a number of symptoms you might suffer from, but that doesn’t mean you’ll suffer from all of them. It is important to remember that not everyone experiences their own ADHD the same way. These are just an example of some of the most common symptoms associated with adult ADHD.
- Boredom that lasts a long time and occurs in many different situations
- Anxiety in most situations
- Mood swings
- Low self-esteem
- Substance abuse
- Regular forgetfulness
- Chronic lateness
- Anger issues and trouble controlling anger
- The inability to concentrate when reading
- No tolerance for frustrations
- The inability to organize
- Relationship issues
- Issues at work
Adult ADHD is not a joke, and it is not something you should take lightly. Even if your symptoms are relatively minor in comparison to what you are seeing here, you should still consider speaking to your doctor about your ADHD and what you can do to minimize your symptoms and live a fuller life.
What Does Adult ADHD Mean for You?
Unfortunately, we cannot tell you precisely what it means for you being diagnosed with ADHD as an adult. We can tell you that most people experience some issues in at least one part of their life, whether it is their relationships at home or at work, their jobs or even with their social life. The great news is that ADHD can be treated. The key to treating it successfully is a good and open relationship with your doctor.
Many adults who suffer from ADHD are given stimulant or non-stimulant medications to help ease their symptoms and make it more manageable. The good news is that this works for more than two-thirds of adults. Your doctor’s job is to work with you to find out how you are feeling, what is working and what is not working so that you can come up with a comprehensive treatment plan that works for you.
Another great way that doctors choose to handle ADHD in adults is with therapy. When you can manage one or more of your symptoms, it often makes living with adult ADHD much simpler.
The Risk Factors of Adult ADHD
There’s nothing really positive about it, but there are some other downfalls that might affect you at some point. It is often true that adults with ADHD suffer from other issues as well. Learning disabilities are a very common co-morbidity with this diagnosis. Additionally, you might also suffer from anxiety because of your internal feelings. This can lead to feelings of depression or even dependence on alcohol or other substances. These substances make you feel better, tricking your body into working better for you. However, once you begin to rely on them, your life takes a turn for the worse.
Living With Adult ADHD
The good news is that it’s perfectly normal to live a full and fulfilling life as an adult with ADHD. Time combined with the help of your doctor and/or medication can make it easier for you to manage your symptoms. This can make it easier for you to get organized and handle the stress associated with adult ADHD with relative ease. It’s not always a given that you will have great days, you can learn to manage this diagnosis well enough that your days can be much better than they were in the past. Positive lifestyle changes can help adult ADHD, and your doctor can help you.
If you think that you are living with a case of undiagnosed ADHD as an adult, call your doctor. Discuss the signs and symptoms you have noticed, and be prepared to answer a number of questions. With your doctor’s help, you can work through this and continue on a path of improvement that can dramatically change the outcome of your life for the better. Adult ADHD is not something you should be embarrassed by, and it’s not something you should allow to get you down after you are diagnosed. Accept it, and learn to live with it and control it.