Adult Attention Deficit Disorder

Jeannine Virtue   (reproduced with permission)

Attention Deficit Disorder tends to focus predominately on children, leaving the ADD adult population largely under served. Most of the information presented about Attention Deficit Disorder focuses on children, parenting and school issues.  Attention Deficit Disorder simply was not in vogue when the adult of today was a child decades ago. While today many express concerns of over diagnosis of Attention Deficit Disorder in children, many also acknowledge the under diagnosing of adults with Attention Deficit Disorder.

Adults with ADD often realize that they have Attention Deficit Disorder when their own child is diagnosed. Looking through the list of symptoms, the parent often sees similarities in their own present or past behavior. Yet, the hurdles of Attention Deficit Disorder are often the same, whether in a child or an adult. The ADD adult might have trouble with staying on task, staying organized and procrastinating, just as the Attention Deficit Disorder child does. The Attention Deficit Disorder adult might have trouble maintaining relationships and controlling their mood, just like an ADD or ADHD child. The main difference between the ADD adult and the ADD child is that the adult with Attention Deficit typically has more sophisticated coping mechanisms. 

For the better part, the Attention Deficit Disorder ADD, ADHD symptom test outlined for children is about the same for the adult, with the word "work" substituted for "school." You can also look at the Attention Deficit Disorder test for children and ask yourself if, as a child, you had such symptoms or currently have such Attention Deficit Disorder symptoms. Below is an adult symptom test with symptoms unique to the Attention Deficit Disorder adult. This self test is not a diagnostic test but a source of information for the adult trying to determine if Attention Deficit Disorder might be present in their life.

Adult ADD Symptom Test

If you experience more than 10 points on this adult ADD self symptom test, Attention Deficit Disorder is likely present. 

  • An internal sense of anxiety

  • Impulsive spending habits

  • Frequent distractions during sex

  • Frequently misplace the car keys, your purse or wallet or other day-to-day items

  • Lack of attention to detail

  • Family history of ADD, learning problems, mood disorders or substance abuse problems

  • Trouble following the proper channels or chain of commands

  • An attitude of "read the directions when all else fails"

  • Frequent traffic violations

  • Impulsive job changes

  • Trouble maintaining an organized work and/or home environment

  • Chronically late or always in a hurry

  • Frequently overwhelmed by tasks of daily living

  • Poor financial management and frequent late bills

  • Procrastination

  • Spending excessive time at work due to inefficiencies

  • Inconsistent work performance

  • Sense of underachievement

  • Frequent mood swings

  • Trouble sustaining friendships or intimate relationships

  • A need to seek high stimulation activities

  • Tendency toward exaggerated outbursts

  • Transposing numbers, letters, words

  • Tendency toward being argumentative

  • Addictive personality toward food, alcohol, drugs, work and/or gambling

  • Tendency to worry needlessly and endlessly

  • “Thin-skinned” - having quick or exaggerated responses to real or imagined slights

So you checked a number of points on the adult ADD self symptom test, now what? First, it is important that a physician or mental health professional rule out conditions like anxiety, depression, hypothyroidism, manic-depression or obsessive compulsive disorder that can mimic Attention Deficit Disorder symptoms. Hormonal imbalances in peri-menopause and menopause can produce foggy thinking, anxiety and exaggerated outbursts. Women should rule out peri-menopause if the Attention Deficit symptoms appear in their late 30s or 40s.

Physicians typically first prescribe antidepressants like Prozac for an adult with ADD, since depression issues often go hand-in-hand with adult ADD. Physicians usually move to stimulant medications like Adderall, Concerta, Ritalin or Strattera if antidepressants do not work. The stimulant medication treatment route is not recommended for people with a history of drug or alcohol use or abuse since these are controlled substances with a fairly high degree of addiction potential in adults. Some adults find that the side effects of ADHD medications are not worth the benefits of the medication. 

The Attention Deficit Disorder adult can find some help naturally without the side effects of ADD medication treatment by incorporating diet, exercise and lifestyle modifications.

Release the Steam, Quiet the Mind:

Regular and vigorous exercise can be very helpful for the Attention Deficit Disorder adult. Attention Deficit Disorder adults tend to have addictive personalities. Exercise is a good addiction. Aside from the obvious health benefits, regular exercise is also a great way to release steam and quiet the mind. Some studies also link regular exercise to decreased depression - a condition common with Attention Deficit Disorder adults.

Diet:

The brain is a hungry organ that cannot function at optimal levels without the proper fuels. To keep the brain functioning at top performance, ADHD diets packed with brain boosting essential fatty acids and amino acids is a must. A diet high in lean protein provides amino acids necessary for brain functioning. The ADD adult can also meet these crucial dietary requirements for Attention Deficit Disorder by taking a high-quality nutritional supplement to ensure that they are giving the brain the fuel it needs to function properly.

Restructuring the ADD adult environment:

The Attention Deficit Disorder adult should get into the habit of making lists. The list should include any and all tasks required for the day, from "Mop the kitchen floor" to "Finish the sales proposal." Write your list with the tasks of highest priority first. Once the highest priority task is completed, mark it off and go to the next.  Warding off the urge to skip around on the list will take some discipline but the sense of accomplishment at completed tasks is well worth the effort.

The Attention Deficit Disorder adult should also keep a notepad in their car, purse, coat and on their bed stand. Thoughts come and go quickly. Jotting the good ideas down will ensure that they don’t go away quickly - assuming the notepad does not get lost in the process... The alarm clock or a wristwatch with an alarm can be a great tool for the Attention Deficit Disorder adult. If you need to pick your child up from soccer practice at a certain time, set the alarm. If you have food cooking on the stove and you leave the kitchen, set the alarm. If you have an important appointment, set the alarm. Large tasks tend to overwhelm the Attention Deficit Disorder adult and they often put off large tasks as long as possible. It is not uncommon for the Attention Deficit Disorder adult to procrastinate until the "11th Hour" and then pull an all-night jam session trying to meet a deadline.

For large tasks, the Attention Deficit Disorder adult will do well to break the task into smaller, more manageable tasks and attach deadlines to the smaller tasks. If you need to finish a large project in one week, for instance, schedule specific time each day to work on a specific aspect of the project. An adult with Attention Deficit Disorder might also find it beneficial to enlist the help of a coach. A coach is a close and trusted friend, co-worker or therapist whose specific function is to help the Attention Deficit Disorder adult stay organized, on track and focused while providing encouragement.

See Internal Link: Focussing Your Mind in Time

Recommended Books

Internet Links:

Attention Deficit Disorder Association

Does the pianist in this animated short film remind you of anyone? Getting Started by Richard Condie


 


 

Discipline and concentration are a matter of being interested.
Tom Kite

 

 

Concentration and mental toughness are the margins of victory.
Bill Russell

 

   
Blurry Trees