Attention Please! ADHD Is Not Just For Kids, Grown Ups Get It Too
Half of all kids who have ADHD will suffer from it in adulthood too.
What comes to your mind when you think of ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder)?
Scattered, unruly little boys who run like a blur, have trouble focusing and need medication to sit still? Or do you say, “It’s me! I’m a disorganised, forgetful mess!”
Whatever be your answer, you will not say Simone Biles, because she’s a four times Olympic gold medalist (duh!) or Ryan Gosling, Justin Timberlake and Channing Tatum – the unrealistically gorgeous Hollywood superstars.
Truth be told, like OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder), people who assume they have clinical attention disorders usually don’t, and the completely oblivious lot struggle through life, undiagnosed and untreated.
The above accomplished personalities are famous and are living with the ADHD diagnosis – their path wasn’t rosy, their personal challenges are still incapacitating, but their success destigmatises this hugely under-recognised mental health disorder.
It is very difficult to diagnose ADHD in adults. In India, we only see the tip of the iceberg. Even experts get it wrong and mistake it for depression, bipolar disorder or loss of cognitive functions in old age.Dr Pawan Sonar, Psychiatrist
ADHD Kids Don’t Disappear, They Might Grow Into ADHD Adults
ADHD is a crippling neurological illness. The brain that is suffering has a sluggish and an underfed reward system. So it restlessly switches from the structured activities to seek a moment of pleasure.
ADHD is often thought of only as a childhood disorder. It is assumed that these kids grow into normal adults but studies say half of them will repeatedly battle with it most of their life.Dr Deep Kashyap, Psychologist
Till about two decades back, ADHD was virtually unheard of, and till 2008 it was not recognised as an adult illness. So no one really thought what happens to the ADHD kids when they grow up and go to universities and offices?
Many children with ADHD learn to manage the illness better with age but they tend to be easily distracted. They have difficulty in planning, organising and sorting information. It’s not that they are low on IQ, they don’t know how to handle all the knowledge.Dr Deep Kashyap, Psychologist
While in kids, ADHD is mainly about restlessness, the inability to focus, sit through a structured programme or process learning; in adults, it manifests differently.
As an adult, the disorder makes you easily bored, impatient, nervous, agitated, you tend to procrastinate, are very forgetful and chronically late. And it’s not just these symptoms on an unpleasant Monday morning, ADHD is clinical when the severity of these symptoms begins to impair life on a regular basis.
A 2011 Massachusetts General Hospital study found that adults with ADHD cannot censor their emotions – meaning they often have a low frustration tolerance so they can’t talk themselves out of anger or tone down their voice to avoid a fight.
What Happens When ADHD Is Diagnosed In Adults?
Screening for ADHD is not easy. There is no walk-in blood test or a brain scan which can give a definitive distinction; it is basically a clinical diagnosis after an elaborate questionnaire and symptom checklist.
Adult ADHD can be properly managed with medication, therapy, exercise, meditation, uninterrupted sleep and stress management. There is no one-size-fits-all approach here. Treatment plan will be decided by the psychiatrist on a case-to-case basis.
Working With ADHD? De-Clutter Your Mind, the Rest Will Follow
ADHD brings chaos. The ADHD brain is wired differently so you might get late to work everyday because you can’t focus on getting dressed or you’re over-fixated on something else. You might walk into a room and not remember why you walked into that room for a frustrating amount of time. So every little hack to organise your life into a routine will have to be utilised to stay on track.
- Keep one rack for keys, phones, chargers, watch, glasses and ID in your office and at home. It will not only help you find stuff but also give you predictability and peace each morning instead of clutter and frustration.
- If the distractions at work are overwhelming, try and wrap up as many things as possible before the office chatter starts.
- At work, take notes vociferously because your brain is likely to mess things up later. Read and re-read to process and prioritise.
- Practice mindfulness – For example, “This week I will be mindful of where I put my cellphone after coming home.”
- Trim your sails. Note down your daily commitments and targets and aim to meet at least 20 percent of them everyday.
- Don’t multitask. Science says it’s pretty useless anyway. Singletask is what real champs do.
And chant: Chaos, confusion and lack of commitment are not embarrassing personal traits, they are symptoms of a neurobiological disorder. Self-love and self-forgiveness will make it more bearable.
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