When Everything Feels Out of Focus:
“All of my life I felt as though I was constantly trying to catch up. Things have always been so out of focus! When I first took ADHD medication, it was like putting on glasses for the first time. The world became a lot more clear.” – Anonymous
When people hear of ADHD, they often envision children who have trouble paying attention or are hyperactive. However, over the past decade, there has been a growing number of adults diagnosed with ADHD. For many years ADHD was characterized as a disorder that was only diagnosable in children. With an increasing amount of research, this myth has been debunked. Today, according to WebMD (2015), about 4% to 5% of U.S. adults have symptoms consistent with ADHD.
Adult ADHD Symptoms (Inattentive ADHD)
- Failure paying attention to detail or frequent careless mistakes
- Difficulty paying attention
- May appear to not be listening
- Easily distracted
- Difficulty with organization, time management, or prioritizing
- Loses things
- Tendency to forget things
- Has a hard time following through with instructions
- Difficulty finishing work on time
Adult ADHD Symptoms (Hyperactive-Impulsive ADHD)
- Struggles staying seated for longer periods of time
- Frequently interrupts or intrudes upon others
- Finds themselves being fidgety, often with hands or feet
- Adults report feeling as though they are driven by a motor
Reasons for Diagnosis in Adulthood
- Individuals may not become aware of symptoms and their impact until later in life
- Symptoms may become more difficult to manage in adulthood
- Individuals were never diagnosed as a child; WebMD (2015) reported that 60% of children diagnosed with ADHD will have symptoms present in adulthood
In adulthood, ADHD can manifest in many different forms. Most commonly, individuals with ADHD first notice a difficulty coping with tasks at work. Individuals may notice inconsistent or poor performances, often as a result of having difficulty prioritizing or managing their thoughts and actions. The thought of completing a task can at times feel overwhelming! This may lead individuals to struggle with procrastination and lack of motivation. In order to protect their livelihood, individuals often find ways to compensate for their symptoms at work or school. They may, for example, add extra hours to their work days in order to complete assignments.
Struggling throughout the day with a lack of focus, time management, or completion of tasks may have a direct effect on one’s emotional and physical states. Going through the day with the constant stress of managing symptoms can produce valid worries: “Did I complete all tasks?”, “Am I forgetting something?”, “Did I send that email?” When such worries are present, individuals may find that they constantly feel on edge. Individuals often also experience guilt, shame, or doubt as a result of the consequences of their ADHD symptoms.
Commonly Associated Conditions
- Substance Abuse
- Sleep Disturbances
- Anger Issues
Individuals with ADHD tend to take their frustrations and stress home with them, ultimately affecting other areas of their lives, such as their relationships or social lives. They may find themselves unnecessarily lashing out at others, using substances to cope, or isolating themselves. In relationships, they often have difficulty remembering specific events, tasks, or requests that their partners have mentioned. Communication can become difficult, as individuals with ADHD are easily distracted and may find it difficult to provide others with their full attention.
The Bottom line: ADHD Treatment for Adults
Today, many adults battle the stereotype that ADHD is a childhood disorder that does not affect adults. Although adult ADHD may be an extension of childhood ADHD, the symptoms in adulthood may manifest in different ways. Symptoms of adult ADHD may significantly disturb an individual’s life, making it tough to sustain relationships, develop a career, build goals, or even handle day-to-day life. Although some adults may be able to develop coping skills to compensate for their symptoms, many find themselves in a sustained state of frustration.
The first step in seeking help for one’s struggles is becoming aware of the signs and symptoms of ADHD. Through healthy coping habits, psychotherapy, and ADHD medications for adults, people living with ADHD may find their world becoming a lot clearer!
Author: Stephanie Ballard, CADC