ADHD in Adults

As mentioned in our former blogs, ADHD means attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. It is a mental health disorder that can include a combination of symptoms, such as struggling to pay attention, impulsive behaviours, and hyperactivity.

Many people believe that ADHD is present only in children and adolescents, but this is not the case. Adults can also have ADHD, but symptoms start in their childhood and can continue as they grow up. About 1 in 7 children with ADHD will continue to have ADHD as adults, although some symptoms may be less noticeable. As some patients are not diagnosed during their childhood because ADHD often goes unrecognised, they tend to get assessed during adulthood once they recognise some of the symptoms. It is important to highlight that if the symptoms are only recent and were only occasional in the past, an ADHD diagnosis is less likely.

In many cases, ADHD symptoms tend to improve as individuals get older, and some changes you can find as an adult are:

  • hyperactivity tends to get better
  • restlessness
  • poor time management skills
  • impulsivity may get worse if not treated since childhood
  • difficulty to concentrate
  • low frustration tolerance
  • risk-taking behaviours can get worse

Adults with undiagnosed ADHD are at more risk of developing depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, feeling overwhelmed, drug misuse, and personality disorders. Nevertheless, along with some difficulties that ADHD may bring, patients with ADHD can have incredible creativity, energy, out-of-the-box thinking, and original ideas. It is key to figuring out your strengths and improving them even more.

What is the good news?

Although some ADHD symptoms can make you feel quite overwhelmed because, as adults, we have greater responsibilities that require us to keep organised and focused, we have different resources to treat ADHD.

After the diagnosis, a conversation is required with your physician, who will explain the disadvantages and advantages of medication, psychological interventions, and some life habits. Often, the best approach is a combination of these treatments. Remember, these treatments will help you manage the symptoms of ADHD, but they won’t cure it. Understanding ADHD plays a significant role in your well-being journey, so try to find support groups, books and evidence-based websites to help you understand more about this condition.

Life habits that you can do without external help:

  • Exercise regularly
  • Healthy diet
  • Good sleep hygiene
  • Set deadlines for everything (will help you with time management)
  • Schedule activities with friends and family
  • Practise mindfulness
  • Set realistic goals

Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy can help adult ADHD patients improve their time management, reduce their impulsive behaviours, improve their self-esteem, develop strategies to cope with deadlines, develop relationship skills, and change negative thinking patterns, among others.

According to the Royal College of Psychiatrists, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and Mindfulness techniques can help with ADHD, helping improve symptoms and any comorbidities.

Medication

Most of the time, stimulant medication is the most prescribed. Stimulant medication includes methylphenidate (known as Ritalin, Concerta, Equasym), dexamphetamine (known as Dexadrine), and lisdexamfetamine (known as Elvanse).

What do stimulants do? They boost and balance some neurotransmitters’ levels and work quickly. As these drugs can be misused, they are labelled as “controlled” drugs here in the UK. It’s important to always chat with your physician before starting medication and learn what possible side effects may arise.

On the other hand, atomoxetine is a non-stimulant commonly used drug (known as Strattera), which is usually prescribed for people with side effects with the stimulant medication. The non-stimulant medication works slower than the stimulants, and it can take weeks to begin showing improvements.

Getting a diagnosis during adulthood can be pretty overwhelming, so talking about it with friends and family can make it easier for you. Furthermore, joining support groups may help you meet other individuals with ADHD and share your own experiences with them.

Support groups in the UK

Sources

  1. Adult attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) – Symptoms and causes – Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/adult-adhd/symptoms-causes/syc-20350878 (accessed 25 Oct 2022).
  2. ADHD in adults | Royal College of Psychiatrists. (n.d.). Retrieved October 25, 2022, from https://www.rcpsych.ac.uk/mental-health/problems-disorders/adhd-in-adults
  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) – Treatment – NHS. (n.d.). Retrieved October 25, 2022, from https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/attention-deficit-hyperactivity-disorder-adhd/treatment/
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