Attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder is one you may commonly associate with children, and you wouldn’t be wrong. ADHD is a mental condition that is usually diagnosed in childhood but as our understanding of mental illness develops, so did our understanding that ADHD can be found in adulthood too.
The Nitty Gritty
For attention deficit hyperactivity disorder to be diagnosed, a specific set of symptoms and behaviours must be present. When diagnosing any mental illness, the DSM 5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) is used. This manual is used by all mental health professionals and gives a list of symptoms, behaviours and criteria as a guide.
In this manual, ADHD is classified as a persistent pattern of hyperactive behaviour, impulsivity or a difficulty in paying attention. For people diagnosed with ADHD, they may be more along the lines of showing hyperactive behaviours or inattentive behaviours.
Adult ADHD is diagnosed in any persons over the age of 17 who show at least five of the nine symptoms listed in the manual. The symptoms of blurting out answers, being unable to concentrate or being easily distracted, needs to be present for at least 6 months and must affect your functioning in your personal, social and work environments.
Being an Adult with ADHD
For adults with this disorder, there is a huge stigma and misconception attached. People are more tolerant of children with ADHD than adults and may perceive them to be lazy, destructive or rude. Imagine being unable to sit still in a meeting or struggling to stay calm in a lengthy Starbucks queue for the latest pumpkin spiced latte.
Not only does adult ADHD exist but it also is a very stressful condition to have if not managed properly. Adults with ADHD have difficulty in many social settings and may be excluded from activities. At work, ADHD staff members may be treated with disdain and labelled as “that guy/girl” during meetings and important work events.
For anyone with adult ADHD, remember that you are not neurotic, irritating or useless and there are many treatments available to help manage your everyday life. Every treatment is different and can be adjusted to meet your needs and symptoms.
Simple strategies such as having a physical activity as a hobby, setting alarms and memorandums on your phone and avoiding certain food and drink can go a long way in managing your ADHD.
Being an adult with ADHD has its advantages too! ADHD individuals have been shown to be more creative and better problem solvers, as found in many research studies. Treatment is not aimed at making you into a new person but just to help set healthy limits and to give you coping skills in everyday life.
“You can’t change who you are, and you shouldn’t be asked to”
Compiled By: Olivia Guerini RC(SA)