Adult ADHD- Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder in Adults
Each morning we wake up, progressing through our busy schedule, trying to make the best of the 24 hours we have, staying focused and organized, and most importantly trying to maintain our emotional and mental balance. The balance or organization we maintain comes to us naturally, but for some people, it is just challenging. Similar is the case for individuals dealing with Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder, most commonly abbreviated as ADHD. In recent years, the awareness of ADHD in children has been the target for many researchers and health professionals. Researchers have managed recognize symptoms and accomplish positive treatments for children diagnosed with ADHD. However, adult ADHD is a little different, it has not received much attention and hence adults suffering from ADHD have gone undiagnosed.
How can I recognize ADHD symptoms in a loved one?
Through fMRI brain scans, researchers have revealed that people suffering from ADHD release a low level of dopamine which is a type of neurotransmitter, hence causing a chemical imbalance in the brain. ADHD symptoms are combinations of multiple attributes such as
- Trouble multitasking
- Focus issues
- Restless nature
- Low coping skills especially with stress
- Mood swings and sudden outburst of anger
Adult ADHD signs and symptoms are subtle, and are usually only evident if the symptoms are severe. Furthermore, ADHD symptoms might replicate other mental health issues such as mood disorder or severe stress. But the crucial fact to remember is that ADHD symptoms are continual in nature and have probably been in one’s life since childhood. Even though the signs may be subtle, ADHD has the possibility (and high probability) of affecting one’s family, social, and work lives. These effects have the ability to alter a person’s self-esteem, confidence level and further demotivate them to progress in their lives.
Why does adult ADHD exist?
As research progresses, the medical and scientific community is more able and willing to find out more about this disorder that has traditionally been characterized as a childhood disorder. However, researchers have shortlisted a few factors such that may be the main cause of ADHD. Factors include environment, genetics, and neurological deficits during early development.
What can I do to help?
This is a general question that would cross my mind if I had a loved one who needs medical attention. Firstly, take a deep breath and know that diagnosis and treatments are available. Diagnosis and treatment of ADHD are not a one step process, psychological and related tests are required to confirm if the symptoms are ADHD related. Previous medical and personal history are compiled to gather information regarding the persistence of the symptoms. Once diagnosed, like with an ADHD test, treatments involves medication or in many cases psychological counseling to help the patients be more positive, improve their behavior and cognition.
Adult ADHD can be challenging, not only for the people who are diagnosed with it but even for caregivers and loved ones. Diagnosis is essential but there is plenty we can do at home to support our loved one. Always remember, your loved one is going to look up to you for a change and motivation.
- Positive atmosphere: It is essential to create a positive atmosphere at home. A positive atmosphere can help an adult suffering from ADHD to remain calm and less stressed. It has been known that people with adult ADHD have a tendency to experience extensive mood swings, and a positive atmosphere has the ability to minimize the mood effect. In addition, having an organized lifestyle for also assists them to stay focused both at work and at home, further increasing their productivity in their tasks and reducing irritability.
- Physical Activity: Researchers such as Archer and Kostrzewa (2012), have studied the positive effects of daily physical exercise on the ADHD brain. It has been known that a regular workout has the ability to reduce hyperactivity, depression, negative behavior and poor impulse control.It also has the ability increase the functionality of the working memory. Motivating loved to a daily workout will help them as well as you. Try making this as a bonding activity to enjoy it to the fullest.
- CogniFit Brain Games: CogniFit has a program that is designed to help with ADHD, and focuses on helping to train and improve the cognitive areas that have been proven to be affected by adult ADHD. Working memory, inhibition, processing speed, and concentration, as well as many other cognitive skills, are all affected by ADHD, and can all be trained and improved with CogniFit. You can take the ADHD test with a professional to get a better understanding of your ADHD, and continue with brain training.
- Time Management: People with adult ADHD have a difficult time staying on track, maintaining a calendar with daily updates will help them to stay on track and maintain their time efficiently. You can help them make their daily schedule, make sure to add in their medications and other little reminders. This will also increase their independence and make them feel that they are in control.
- Eat and Sleep Well: It has been known that regular sleep has the ability to reduce restlessness and anger problems in adults with ADHD. Additionally, eating a healthy and nutritious diet can also reduce distractibility and stress levels. Try to maintain and consistently encourage healthy habits at home.
- Meditation: Another intervention technique that has been gaining much popularity within the medical and therapy field, is the technique of meditation. Even though the meditation practice has been available to us for thousands of years, it is not until recently that psychologists have been successfully applying it as a treatment for mental health patients.The practice of meditation has been known to release hormones that help to release stress and calm us down. Dr. Mark E. Young and Dr. John McGrew in the book ‘Meditation as Medication For The Soul’ have provided us with evidence that meditation has a positive effect on mental illnesses with character traits such as anxiety, anger and mood swings.
One out of five people within the United States are dealing with a mental illness such as ADHD, the impact of this illnesses are also reflected within their lives, families, and communities. As mentioned, adult ADHD symptoms are subtle. Therefore, it is our responsibility to educate ourselves and further create an awareness in our societies as a service and to be able to help many individuals to recognize and address their ADHD symptoms.
Puja is a 2nd year Child and Human Developmental Psychology student at Teachers College, Columbia University, New York City. She also has a B.A in Speech and Language Sciences and has gained experience within the field from London, U.K.
Puja is very passionate about making a difference and spreading the awareness to educate the general public. Her goal is to reach out to as many people as she can, she strongly believes that education has the ability to cause a positive ripple effect.