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Adults can have ADHD too

submitted by Dr. Ronit Levy, Clinical Director, Bucks County Anxiety Center

Most people have heard of ADHD. Usually, we think of it as a pediatric issue. Parents, doctors, and teachers used to pay the most attention to hyperactive boys. What we know now is that adults can have ADHD too. 

While some people will outgrow their ADHD, most will have it as adults. Some were diagnosed as kids. However, many adults are diagnosed when they start therapy due to severe anxiety or depression. By the time they come to therapy, they may be dealing with significant trouble with work, relationships, or impulsive behavior.   

Common symptoms of ADHD in adults include trouble starting and/or finishing tasks, staying organized, meeting deadlines, concentrating, and paying attention to others’ needs. As a result of these symptoms, many adults with ADHD lose jobs frequently and struggle being an attentive and responsible parent and/or romantic partner. 

A lifetime of struggling leads to intense anxiety and shame. Most adults with ADHD feel they are running a race they cannot win. It is practically guaranteed that, at some point, they will miss, forget, or mess up something important.

They will see others easily handle the same tasks and be able to do more.  They have learned that they will likely do things incorrectly.  Consequently, they avoid taking on more, even if it means disappointing everyone.

Severe anxiety is a natural result of constantly feeling unsteady. Managing ADHD as an adult involves multiple approaches including medication, strategies, and psychotherapy.

Psychotherapy is extremely important because it provides the opportunity to learn about triggers, change negative beliefs, learn strategies that help with work and relationships, and decrease anxiety.

While there is no cure for ADHD, you can have a good life and feel better about yourself.

Support is available on-line and face-to-face. Whatever your struggles are, stay hopeful.

You are not alone.