Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Coping With Adult ADD/ADHD.

Understanding ADD/ADHD In Adults:

     Attention Deficit Disorder is not just a childhood psychological disorder. Adults with ADD/ADHD often have lives that seem disorganized, chaotic, and out of control.
They are often bouncing from one activity to another, and exhibit difficulty staying focused and attending to daily, mundane tasks. They often have trouble keeping appointments, are forgetful, impulsive, and reactive in their behaviors and responses to others. Adults with ADD/ADHD have similar signs and symptoms to that of children diagnosed with the same disorder. Adults struggling with ADD/ADHD commonly experience the following symptoms:

1.Difficulty staying focused and paying attention, such as when reading or listening to others.

2.Struggling to complete tasks, even ones that seem simple.

3.Have a tendency to overlook details, leading to errors or incomplete work.

4.Poor listening skills; difficulty remembering conversations and following directions.

5."Zoning Out" without being aware of it, even while in the middle of a conversation.

6. Extreme distractibility; wandering attention and not staying on track.

7. Poor Executive Functioning; inability to make decisions, poor planning, and poor organizational skills.

     In addition to the symptoms listed above, adults diagnosed with Hyperactivity and Attention Deficit Disorder suffer from impulsivity, trouble inhibiting their behaviors, comments, and responses to others. They often act before thinking, or react without considering the consequences of their behaviors. Interrupting others, blurting out comments, and rushing through tasks are tell tale signs of hyperactivity and impulsivity.

     Consequently, as a result of their poor organizational skills, poor executive functioning capacities, poor time management strategies, and difficulty modulating strong negative emotions such as anger and frustration, adults with ADD/ADHD often underachieve and find it difficult to reach their full potential. They commonly experience long-term career difficulties and relationship problems. They are also vulnerable to having a co-diagnosis of depression, generalized anxiety disorder, and substance abuse, all of which exacerbate, worsen, and complicate their original ADD/ADHD symptoms.

Self-Help for adults with ADD/ADHD:

     Having a comprehensive understanding of ADD/ADHD challenges and with the help of structured strategies can help individuals make real positive changes. Many adults with ADD/ADHD have found effective ways to manage their symptoms and lead productive, satisfying, and meaningful lives.

1. Exercise and eat healthy foods. Avoid foods that have stimulating effects such as caffeine and sugar.

2. Get plenty of rest. Aim for getting 7-8 hours of sleep every night.

3. Work on maintaining your social relationships. Schedule time with family and friends. Maintaining social relationships can also prevent depression and feelings of social isolation.

4. Improve time management skills by setting deadlines for all your activities. Using timers and setting alarm clocks can be helpful for staying on track and remaining focused.

When to seek outside help for adult ADD/ADHD:
If symptoms of ADD/ADHD persist despite self-help efforts, it is likely time to seek professional help. Therapy for adults with ADD/ADHD include the following treatment options:

1. Talk Therapy. This type of treatment can help individuals cope with the emotional issues that often co-exist with ADD/ADHD. Feelings of low self esteem, failure,embarrassment and shame can be resolved with psychodynamic-psychotherapy.

2. Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy. This type of therapy examines the relationship between thoughts and behaviors. Many adults with ADD/ADHD suffer from depression, anxiety, and general feelings of demoralization stemming from years of
unmet goals and expectations. Working on transforming negative thoughts can consequently produce positive outcomes and improve self-esteem. Cognitive-Behavioral therapy also focuses on educating adults with ADD/ADHD about practical strategies to improve their attention, executive functioning, work performance, and relationships.

3. Medications. Medications such as Adderall and Concerta have been found to improve concentration and control impulsive behaviors associated with this disorder.

If you or a loved is struggling with symptoms of ADD/ADHD speak with a professional in order to be properly assessed and effectively treated. Adult ADD/ADHD is a treatable condition and when treated effectively one is able to live a satisfying and meaningful life.

This article was written by Paula Durlofsky, Ph.D. I am a licensed practicing psychologist in Bryn Mawr, PA. and affiliated with the Bryn Mawr Hospital. For questions or comments regarding this article I can be contacted at drpauladurlofsky@gmail.com or by phone at 484-431-8710. Please visit my web site at www.drpauladurlofsky.com to learn more about me and my practice.


  1. I know that it can be difficult dealing with ADD/ADHD as an adult myself. It is not something that is easy to deal with, but must be done. Everyone deals with something day by day and you need to know how to overcome your own demons that are holding you back.
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