The ABCs of Adult ADD

The ABCs of Adult ADD

Do you know someone you who suffers from adult ADD? This medical condition not only affects young children, but is on the increase amongst adults and the more we know and recognise the symptoms, the better we can understand it, support people with it, and manage it.

What is it?

Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), or Attention Deficit Hypersensitivity Disorder (ADHD), is a neurodevelopmental condition evident in a person whose brain activity and advancement is more different than normal. This can affect their concentration, memory, behavior, self-control, relationships, emotions, health and self-confidence.

The direct cause hasn’t been identified, but research shows it is neurological (with a neurotransmitter imbalance), biochemical (with some hormone-like substance deficiencies) and also largely genetic.

There are three ADD types: inattentive (easily distracted, not hyperactive or impulsive); hyperactive/impulsive (hyperactive or impulsive, not inattentive); and combined (all three symptoms).

The facts and figures

Did you know that one of the highest rates for prescription ADHD medication is in South Africa? Approximately eight to ten percent of our country’s children have ADD/ADHD. Yet, ADD/ADHD doesn’t only affect children. Children experiencing persistent symptoms for a minimum of six months may be diagnosed, but adults’ symptoms have generally been chronically evident since childhood. Approximately fifty per cent of children diagnosed with ADD/ADHD carry it with them into adulthood.

However, adults have often had ADD/ADHD for many years without an immediate diagnosis. Due to unawareness in the past, ADD/ADHD was often unidentified or misinterpreted. Even without a childhood diagnosis, it’s still possible for adults to be affected. It’s especially after incidents occurring at home, work or in a social context that an adult has been encouraged by someone close to them to seek medical advice and assistance which has then revealed ADD/ADHD.   

Do you have it?

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Each person is different, and symptoms differ from very mild to quite severe, subject to an individual’s own body and environment. Some symptoms include: difficulty following directions or instructions; concentrating and remembering information; organising tasks or completing tasks efficiently.

If you answer YES to most of these questions you might be a sufferer:

  1. When given a task, I usually procrastinate rather than doing it right away.
  2. I work on a lot of projects but can’t seem to complete most of them.
  3. I tend to make decisions and act on them impulsively — like spending money, diving into new activities, and changing plans.
  4. I often get distracted when people are talking; I just tune out or drift off.
  5. I get so wrapped up in some things I do that I can hardly stop to take a break or switch to doing something else.
  6. I tend to overdo things even when they’re not good for me — like compulsive shopping, drinking too much, overworking, and overeating.
  7. I can feel suddenly down when I’m separated from people, projects or things that I like to be involved with.
  8. Even though I have a lot of fears, people would describe me as a risk taker.
  9. I make a lot of careless mistakes. 
  10. I have blood relatives who suffer from ADHD, another neurological disorder, or substance abuse.

The triggers and challenge

Conditions like depression, anxiety or a learning disability may aggravate these symptoms. It’s six times more likely for a person with ADD/ADHD to have another psychiatric or learning disorder than most other people. Left untreated, ADD/ADHD can cause many mental, physical and emotional problems that negatively impact areas of daily life, including education, jobs and relationships.

If you’re easily bored, you’ll seek excitement spontaneously. If you’re frustrated, this can intensify into mood swings. Adults with ADD/ADHD are more likely to misuse substances (through smoking, drinking or taking drugs). They change jobs more often, repeat negative relationship patterns and have few personal or professional accomplishments.

What can you do?

A – ask question

If you have asked yourself these questions and think you might have adult ADD/ADHD, make an appointment with your doctor or a mental health practitioner, who can then refer you for an adult ADHD test. You can be accurately diagnosed by being aware of all of your symptoms.

B – be informed

Knowledge is power! Medication is helpful, but isn’t the only solution. Many symptoms can be managed through a healthy diet, supplements, regular exercise, sufficient sleep, better time management, and working in an environment that can helps instead of hinders you.

C – care and help

Many adults have struggled with chronic difficulties for years and haven’t received help because they don’t know they have ADD/ADHD, or feel alone. If you’re battling, connect with your family and friends. Professional counselling and other therapies can also help you to conquer these challenges.

There is hope!

If treated correctly, you can have ADD/ADHD and still live a very satisfying and enjoyable life. Use your energy, creativity, imagination, skills and talents to your advantage. Always embrace the positives!

Date Published: 
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