ADHD in Young Adults
During most of Zach’s school years, he struggled with procrastination and struggled to organize. People often told him that he needed to manage his time better or find systems that would help him manage his schedule. But these suggestions never seemed to solve the problem.
So he wasn’t surprised when he was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) at the age of 22.
“My choice has always been, ‘I’m just wired that way, and there’s really nothing I can do about it,'” said Zach, who asked that we not use his last name for privacy reasons.
Signs of ADHD usually begin in early childhood and continue into adulthood. But sometimes ADHD isn’t diagnosed until someone is a young adult.
Symptoms in adults may not be as obvious as those in children, but they are similar. Young adults with ADHD usually don’t show as much hyperactivity as they did when they were children. But they can be restless, have trouble controlling their impulses and paying attention.
While working towards an undergraduate degree, Zach stayed awake several nights to complete his homework. It’s normal for students to struggle with time management at first, but Zach noticed that his procrastination was more consuming than that of his peers. He often had to work with his teachers to adjust deadlines so that he could do his job.
It wasn’t until other people in his life found out that they had ADHD that he considered this possibility for himself.
Recognizing ADHD as a Young Adult
Like Zach, some young adults may start to wonder about ADHD when they notice they are having trouble with daily tasks. Or maybe your family, teachers, or friends are noticing patterns in your behavior that make you appear inconsistent or forgetful. Warning signs include:
- Concentration problem
- Impulse control issues
- Problem with priorities
- Lack of organization
- Poor time management
- Multitasking problem
- Mood swings
- Planning issues
- Problems finishing jobs
- Stress management issues
These symptoms can lead to problems with your work, school, or social life. Young adults with ADHD may find it difficult to meet deadlines, get to meetings or events on time, or control their emotional outbursts.
To make a diagnosis, your doctor will most likely perform a series of tests. They will do a physical exam to rule out other conditions, ask you about your medical history and other conditions you may have, and do psychological tests and use ADHD rating scales to examine in more detail. your symptoms.
There are three main types of ADHD and the tests may depend on your symptoms. The types are:
- Impulsive-hyperactive. It is the least common form of ADHD. It causes you to act on impulse and have restless tendencies.
- Inattentive and distracting. This type involves issues with your ability to pay attention.
- Combined. It is the most common type and shows symptoms of the other two forms.
Sometimes a person who does not have one of the first two types will go years without a diagnosis. Because they have symptoms of only one type, their doctor may not recognize their ADHD sooner.
People with ADHD can also be what doctors call “high functioning,” which means they were able to survive without major problems. They may not realize they have ADHD and may have developed coping skills to mask their symptoms.
Zach is now a graduate student at Rockefeller University in New York. He says being at the top level got him to do his primary education and most of college. “Sometimes it can be easy not to see which ones are performing well,” he says.
Complications of ADHD in Young Adults
Regardless of the type of ADHD, the symptoms can cause problems for young adults. “From the time you start college to your first job, renting your first apartment, buying your first home – all of that adult work requires a lot of functional leadership skills,” Zach says. These skills – such as adaptive thinking, planning, self-control, self-control, time management, memory, and organization – are essential for development. But many people with ADHD struggle with them.
Left untreated, ADHD can lead to many problems in young adults. It can make you more likely to have money problems, to have problems with the law, to have difficulty keeping a job, to have problems with alcohol or drugs, to have car accidents, dealing with relationship problems, having an unplanned pregnancy, contracting an STD, or having a low self-image and other mental health issues.
David W. Goodman, MD, director of the Adult Attention Deficit Disorder Center of Maryland, says ADHD treatment is especially important for young people. “When you live with this your whole life you start to think, ‘it’s just me. … It’s just kind of who I am, ”he said. “When, in fact, it’s not who you are, it’s a disorder that you have. It is the manifestation of the disorder. “
He finds that the treatment helps young adults to separate from their condition. With the right help, “they find that their capacity to do more is much greater,” says Goodman. “This is when their self-confidence increases.”
Treatment for young adults with ADHD
If you are diagnosed with ADHD, your doctor will offer you resources where you can learn more about your condition. Goodman suggests that it’s best for people to educate themselves about ADHD before starting treatment so they understand what it is, how it affects chemicals in their brains, and how treatment can help them live better lives. Many experts recommend starting with an organization like children and adults with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD).
Your doctor will also talk to you about medications to treat your ADHD. You can try a stimulant like methylphenidate (Concerta, Ritalin) or amphetamine (Adderall, Vyvanse) to balance the chemicals in your brain. Or you can use non-stimulant medications like antidepressants if you can’t take stimulants due to side effects or other conditions.
Keep in mind that you will likely need to work with your doctor to find the right medicine and dose for you. It can take some time.
Once your symptoms have improved with medication, Goodman often suggests therapy to work on organizational skills, interpersonal skills, and time management.
Cognitive behavioral therapy is a common type of psychotherapy for people with ADHD. It can help you learn to manage your behavior and take control of your thought patterns.
You may also want to consider marriage counseling or family therapy to help you and your loved ones understand ADHD. These sessions can improve your communication at home and teach you to deal with challenges in a more positive way.
ADHD Lifestyle Tips
Medication and therapy aren’t the only ways to improve your ADHD symptoms. Carly Duryea, 23, found out she had inattentive / distracted type ADHD when she was in first grade in high school. She shares these strategies that help her stay on top of her schedule:
- Get in writing. Duryea calls herself a “lister”. She uses written reminders and lists to keep track of her day. This can include grocery lists, event planning, or easy-to-do checklists.
- Visual reminders. Keeping notes around the house and objects in their place helps Duryea refresh her memory when she needs it. She finds visual cues more useful than trying to remember various tasks throughout the day.
- A clean environment. An organized workspace allows for streamlined focus to get work done on time.
- Preparation. When Duryea is out of town or on a day trip, she packs things like extra pain relievers, towels in case it rains, drinks, snacks, and whatever else she thinks someone might need. It might seem like overkill to some, she says, but it’s one of her best ways to fight symptoms like forgetfulness.
- Responsibility. Duryea asks her relatives to keep her under control. “I work so much better under responsibility,” she says. “My boyfriend can hold me accountable for certain things… whether it’s something small and insignificant or if it’s something bigger like school or a deadline.”
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