Many people have the impression that attention deficit disorder (ADD) is a condition that only affects children. However, there are thousands of adults around the world who have a problem with ADD today. Attention deficit disorder is a result of a chemical imbalance in the brain. Mostly all cases of ADD begin in childhood, with symptoms continuing into adults. Learning to balance ADD symptoms as an adult can be more difficult than as a child, due to the many responsibilities that adults carry. With help and medical treatment, adults with ADD can learn to manage their condition and lead normal and productive lives. Discover more about Adult ADD.
Understanding Adult ADD
Before ADD adult patients can learn how to control their symptoms, they need a better understanding of the disorder and how it affects their lives. Many adults with ADD today are unaware of their condition due to not having been properly diagnosed. They may experience many of the symptoms of adult ADD such as forgetfulness, lack of focus and disorganization, but they don’t know their problems come from having ADD. Once an adult has been diagnosed with ADD, he can take measures to treat his condition and regain control of his life. ADD poses many challenges to living a normal lifestyle. However, there are means of treating the condition so adults can be successful in completing career and family obligations.
Many fallacies surround ADD, hindering people from understanding the true nature of this disorder. By separating the facts from fallacies, ADD patients are in a better position to get the care they need.
- ADD can affect people from all nationalities, backgrounds and intelligence levels.
- Because the condition is due to a chemical problem with the brain, symptoms cannot be controlled through will power alone.
- Without a professional medical diagnosis, it’s possible for adults to struggle with ADD symptoms throughout their lives and be unaware of their condition.
- The exact cause of ADD is not known. However, doctors believe that both genes and environmental issues contribute to the problem.
- Studies show that children exposed to alcohol, cigarettes and similar toxins inside the womb are more susceptible to this condition.
- Adult ADD symptoms can be controlled through medications and alternative treatments, enabling patients to live more normal lives.
Testing for Adult ADD
The medical profession has made great strides in recognizing and treating ADD over the years. Due to the complexity of the condition, however, no single adult ADD test has been developed to make an accurate diagnosis. Most doctors agree that adult ADD is a continuance of having the problem as a child, although adult symptoms may be more varied and pronounced. By talking with adult ADD patients and their families and learning more about their medical history, doctors are able to obtain the information they need to make an accurate diagnosis on their condition.
ADD “testing” for adults consists mainly of collecting data about their daily behavior, moods, habits and social and emotional functions. Many doctors give their patients a physical exam to uncover any physical or mental problems that could be contributing to their ADD symptoms. Doctors also try to identify any ADD symptoms the adult may have had as a child. This entails discussing their home behavior with parents and siblings as well as inquiring about their school behavior and interactions with teachers and peers. If doctors can uncover proof that adults experienced ADD symptoms and behavior as a child, they can reach a more accurate conclusion concerning diagnosing their condition as an adult. Studies reveal that almost 50% of ADD children continue to experience symptoms as adults.
Symptoms of ADD in Adults
When left untreated, adult ADD can cause a number of physical and mental problems that make it difficult for adults to complete their family and work responsibilities. By recognizing some of the most common signs of ADD in adults, parents and other family members can help patients get the treatment they need. Adult ADD symptoms vary from patient to patient. However, the following signs of adult ADD are often manifested in patients to some degree:
- Disorganization – Inability to manage time, keep track of daily tasks or prioritize work that needs to get done. This often leads to chronic lateness and unfinished tasks.
- Lack of Focus – Difficulty starting and ending tasks, easily distracted, difficulty following instructions or conversations
- Hyper-focus – Becoming totally submerged in a mundane activity to the neglect of other important responsibilities
- Forgetfulness – Routinely forgetting important tasks or dates or where items have been placed
- Impulsivity – Making decisions or acting without thinking about consequences, rushing through jobs, interrupting conversations unnecessarily
- Emotional Problems – Easily depressed or frustrated over little things, mood swings, angry outbursts, difficulty controlling emotions
- Poor Listening Skills – Tuning out during conversations, short attention span
- Restlessness – Difficulty relaxing, problems with anxiety and worrying
ADD symptoms can cause a wide number of problems for adults, both at home and in the workplace. An ADD adult’s lack of organization and focus can cause him to miss important appointments, neglect work deadlines or do poorly at his job. Many career opportunities have been lost due to lack of management of ADD symptoms.
At home, ADD adults may experience problems due to forgetting important dates, getting emotional over little things or making impulsive decisions that have negative consequences later down the line. It’s not uncommon for married couples to have relationship problems as a result of one spouse suffering from this condition. Couples with children may have a hard time parenting their kids if one parent has ADD.
Medications and Alternative Treatments
There are various types of adult ADD medication that can effectively treat symptoms of adult ADD. In addition to prescription drugs, there are alternative treatments adults can try to help manage their condition. Many of these treatments cost much less than prescription medications (or are free) and pose no risk of side effects. Not all treatments work the same for every ADD patient. By experimenting with different adult ADD treatment options, patients can discover what works best for them.
Many patients find medications quite helpful in controlling their condition. At the same time, patients should be aware that ADD medication for adults offers no permanent cure. In some cases, medications may resolve one problem such as improve attention span, while doing little for another. By combining medications with alternative treatments, adults may get much better results in controlling their symptoms. They’ll also learn other ways of coping with their disorder.
Unlike alternative treatments, ADD medications pose the risk of side effects. Not everyone that takes ADD medication has side effects, but patients should be aware that they exist. Patients should discuss this risk with their physician and monitor their medications carefully to get a better idea of how they are doing on their treatment plan. In some cases, patients may need to try various medications until they find the one that gives them the best results.
Regular exercise, change in diet, good sleep habits, relaxation techniques and therapy offer alternative treatments to medications for managing ADD symptoms in adults. Exercise not only enhances concentration but helps stimulate memory and improve mood. Physical activity has been known to boost neurotransmitters in the brain to help improve a person’s concentration level. As little as 30 minutes of exercise daily can have a positive effect on reducing ADD symptoms. Team sports can make exercise more enjoyable although spending time in nature walking, hiking or jogging also has its benefits.
Getting sufficient sleep helps in managing ADD symptoms along with improving a person’s overall health. In contrast, lack of sleep can aggravate symptoms even more. By making an effort to improve sleep habits, patients will see an improvement in their condition.
Healthy eating habits can do much to reduce ADD symptoms in adults. In addition to nutritious foods, healthy eating for an ADD patient includes eating on a regular schedule, planning meals in advance to avoid stress at mealtimes and avoiding junk food with high sugar content. Foods that contain zinc, iron, protein and magnesium can help improve alertness without increasing hyperactivity. Omega 3 fatty acids found in salmon, tuna, fortified eggs and milk products have also been proven effective in improving concentration.
Meditation and yoga are two relaxation techniques that can help reduce the symptoms of anxiety, impulsivity and depression. Behavior management therapies are also conducive to helping ADD patients, especially those that focus on stress or anger management and control of impulsive behaviors. There are also therapies that can teach patients how to manage their money and time and develop better organizational skills. Whatever helps a patient control his symptoms and improve organizational abilities and skills can function as an ADD treatment. Patients will need to explore their options carefully and decide what treatments they want to invest their time in for coping with their condition.
Having ADD as an adult can be a difficult experience. Modern medications and treatments give ADD patients the opportunity to live normal, happy lives without the stress and burden that ADD symptoms can bring.