Most people can relate to typical ADHD symptoms, such as lacking focus, acting impulsively or feeling restless. However, for people with ADHD, these symptoms can occur often and repeatedly, day in, day out, and cause stress, sadness and frustration. Why is that?
The ADHD brain struggles to regulate the rate at which certain neurotransmitters fire. Briefly speaking: ADHD brains run on dopamine, the reward hormone/transmitter.
If a task does not reward you directly in any way? – the task gets more difficult to accomplish. Something catches you in your peripheral vision. If it’s exciting, focus on your initial activity is lost. A random thought pops into your brain? You might feel an urge to spit it out without giving it a second thought.
Fortunately, there are ways to train your brain to achieve a higher attention span. You can also adjust certain areas of your life to be more ‘ADHD friendly’.
On a positive note, some studies suggest ADHD patients might have a higher level of creativity and can be extraordinarily empathetic. ADHD gives the possibility of hyperfocus on tasks that are of interest and engaging. Controlling disadvantages and using potential advantages can be the long term goal for anyone just discovering their ADHD.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V) splits ADHD into three different sub-types: Inattentive ADHD, hyperactive-impulsive ADHD and a combined type.
The most common symptoms are:
- Inattention, easily distractible
- Lack of focus
Disorganization and problems prioritizing
- Poor planning
- Problems following through and completing tasks
Restlessness or excessive activity
- Poor time management skills
- Impulsivity and weak impulse control
Low frustration tolerance
- Frequent mood swings
- A hot temper
- Troubles coping with stress
- Ability to hyperfocus on areas of interest, getting deep into new hobbies
ADHD in Adults
ADHD can look different in children and adults. Whereas boys can often have difficulties sitting still in school, this hyperactivity can transform into an internal feeling of restlessness in adulthood. Girls often get described as daydreamers but are more likely to only develop symptoms at the end of high school. This way, their diagnosis gets overlooked more often than their male peers..
In general, people adapt to the symptoms they suffer from. This can be in a positive way but can also lead to people avoiding certain situations or coping dysfunctionally.
Example: As a school student, Brian would forget things at home and forget appointments very often. Teachers and parents would get angry with him. This led to Brian skipping school (avoiding) or to obsessive-compulsive behavior (dysfunctional coping).
Adult ADHD can look like struggles at work, like communication difficulties, missed deadlines, or poor attention to detail. Maybe someone would often forget important appointments, lose important personal items, like keys or phones or have complicated personal relationships due to forgetfulness or distractedness.
If you suspect you might have ADHD, you can use the official World Health Organization approved comprehensive ADHD Symptom Checker as a first check.
Why look into treatment?
Untreated ADHD very often coexists with conditions like anxiety, depression, and addiction. ADHD can affect the quality of sleep, work, relationships, sexual well-being and education.
There are a variety of therapy options allowing an individualized patient / therapist journey. Medication might be a part of an individual journey but it also might not. Would coaching be better or behavioral therapy? How much does one profit from a daily chores App like #Brili ? What ever works for an individual person, with the right diagnosis, treatment plan and support, ADHD does not have to hold one back in life. They can thrive on the fact that their brain just works differently.