Understanding ADHD (or ADD) in Adults
Life can be a balancing act for any adult, but if you find yourself constantly running behind, disorganized, forgetful, and burdened with your responsibilities, you may have Adults Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), formerly known as ADD. ADHD affects many adults, and a variety of frustrating symptoms can disrupt everything from your relationships to your career.
While scientists aren’t sure exactly what causes ADHD, they believe it likely results from a combination of genes, the environment, and subtle differences in how the brain is wired. If you were diagnosed with childhood ADHD or ADHD, you likely carried at least some of the symptoms into adulthood. But even if you weren’t diagnosed as a child, that doesn’t mean ADHD can’t affect you as an adult.
ADHD often goes unrecognized during childhood. This was especially common in the past, when few people were aware of it. Instead of recognizing your symptoms and identifying the real problem, your family, teacher, or others may have described you as a dreamer, an idiot, a slacker, a troublemaker, or just a bad student? Alternately, you may be able to offset your ADHD symptoms when you were young, only to have problems with your increased responsibilities as an adult. The more balls you are now trying to keep in the air – to pursue a career, raise a family, run a house – the greater the demand for your abilities to organize, focus and stay calm. This can be a challenge for anyone, but if you have ADHD, it can feel completely impossible.
Effects of ADHD in adults
If you’ve just discovered that you have ADHD, you’ve likely struggled over the years with the unknown problem. You may feel like you’re struggling to keep your head above water, overwhelmed by the constant stress of procrastination, disorganization, and dealing with last-minute requests. People may label you as “lazy,” irresponsible or “stupid” because you forget or have difficulty completing certain tasks, and you may have started thinking of yourself in these negative terms as well.
Undiagnosed and untreated ADHD can have wide-ranging effects and cause problems in nearly every area of your life.
Physical and mental health problems
ADHD symptoms can contribute to a variety of health problems, including compulsive eating, substance abuse, anxiety, chronic stress and tension, and low self-esteem. You may also have trouble neglecting important checkups, skipping doctor’s appointments, ignoring medical instructions, and forgetting to take vital medications.
Work and financial difficulties
Adults with ADHD often have occupational difficulties and feel a strong sense of underachievement. You might have trouble keeping a job, following company rules, meeting deadlines, and sticking to a 9 to 5 routine. Managing your finances might also be a problem: You might have trouble with unpaid bills, lost paperwork, late fees, or debts due to impulsive spending.
Symptoms of the ADHD can put a strain on your work, love and family relationships. You may be tired of constantly complaining about loved ones to tidy up, listen closely, or get organized. On the other hand, those close to you may feel hurt and resentful of your “irresponsibility” or “lack of feeling.”
The widespread effects of ADHD can lead to embarrassment, frustration, hopelessness, disappointment, and loss of confidence. You may feel that you will not be able to control your life or fulfill your potential. This is why a diagnosis of ADHD in adults can be a tremendous source of comfort and hope. It helps you understand what you are experiencing for the first time and realize that you are not responsible for it. The difficulties I’ve experienced stem from ADHD – it’s not the result of a personal weakness or a character flaw.
What type of treatment is best for Adult ADHD?
Eye Movement Desensitization & Reprocessing (EMDR) is the most commonly used type of ADHD and is particularly appropriate for adults. EMDR therapy is simply a treatment that helps you change your behavior. EMDR therapy helps you change your behavior by changing your thought processes.
Unhelpful thought processes include:
All or nothing thinks. I declined when I asked for a second date. I will never find a girlfriend.
I can’t seem to keep up with the housework, the laundry, the cooking. I can’t do anything right.
The meeting was going well until I made that stupid comment. I’m getting fired.
I’m the one who overestimated sales. If the company collapses, it’ll be my fault.
EMDR therapy can help you see things in a more balanced and positive way. You can learn to appreciate the things you do well and get engage in self-praise. EMDR therapy which has been developed specifically for people with ADHD can help you learn skills such as time management, organization, and long-term planning.
Personality DisordersDisruptive patterns in mood, behavior, communication with others, and thinking in general can cause significant stress and inability to function.
Adult Eating DisordersAdult eating disorders are typically triggered by past trauma deriving from a single event or the accumulation of many small traumatic events.
Obsessive Compulsive & Related DisordersCharacterized by patters of unwanted fears and thoughts that lead to repetitive behavior, obsessive-compulsive disorder interfere heavily with daily activities.
Somatic Symptom DisorderThe manifestation of physical symptoms due to mental trauma or illness is a serious matter. This includes the development of chronic pain leading to excessive levels of distress.
Social Communication DisorderSocial communication disorders affect a large number of people today and can be as simple as difficulties in managing eye contact, facial expressions and body language.
Internet Gaming DisorderMany underlying issues can contribute to internet addiction and gaming disorders, and identifying the underlying issues is the first step in addressing the disorder.
Adult Sleep-Wake DisordersIssues with sleep are one of the most common clinical problems we face, and can greatly affect the overall health, safety, and quality of life.
Adult Autism Spectrum DisorderTypical symptoms blamed on autism such as avoidance, hyper vigilance and reduced cognitive ability can also be hallmarks of chronic stress reactions to past trauma.
Adult ADHD (Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder)EMDR Therapy is appropriate for adults wishing to treat Adult ADHD - the therapy is a treatment that helps you change your behavior by changing your troubling thought processes.
I am a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) & Mental Health Service Provider (MHSP) in Tennessee
As a licensed Mental Health Services Provider (MHSP) in Tennessee, I work with a variety of adult patients currently experiencing mental health issues. For most clients, I typically recommend both traditional therapies as well as innovative treatment methods like EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization & Reprocessing. This type of treatment for mental health issues is safe, very effective and can change your life.
Steven Lepley LPC, MHSP
Licensed in Tennessee
I am a Licensed Professional Counselor, Mental Health Services Provider & EMDR Therapist offering virtual telemedicine appointments throughout all of Tennessee.
Ask me about my experience & how I can help you address the challenges you are facing. Call me or text me at 615.330.2659.