Symptoms of ADHD usually start in childhood. They can include trouble paying attention, missing important details, or making careless mistakes in school or work that lead to failure or embarrassment. It also can include difficulty waking up, staying organized, and following through with tasks. In adults, symptoms can include trouble at home and work and problems forming or maintaining relationships. ADHD can be a chronic condition and requires treatment throughout adulthood, even when symptoms are mild.
A diagnosis of ADHD is made by a health care provider, such as a psychiatrist or clinical psychologist, after an interview with the patient and others who know him, a physical exam, and lab tests. Treatment options can include psychosocial intervention, behavior therapy and medication.
Many people with ADHD are able to manage their symptoms through lifestyle changes, such as getting enough sleep and keeping an organized schedule. Some also find that listening to music or taking a walk in nature improves their focus and concentration.
For some people with ADHD, stimulants can help decrease their symptoms. However, these medications can cause side effects, such as jitteriness or decreased appetite. They also can have a “crash” effect, in which the person feels very low and tired after coming down off a dose of a stimulant drug.
Psychotherapy can help adults with ADHD deal with their difficulties in work and family life. Therapy can teach them new ways of thinking and acting so they can better cope with the challenges that arise in everyday life. It can also help them explore any feelings of shame or embarrassment they may have about their ADHD symptoms and resentment from loved ones who are constantly reminding them of their mistakes.
Children with ADHD often don’t get the quality of sleep they need to be able to pay attention and learn. They have trouble falling asleep, toss and turn in bed through the night, or wake up at any noise. If these behaviors continue over time, they can have a negative impact on learning and mood. It is recommended that children with ADHD be treated with a combination of behavioral therapy and medication.
People with ADHD tend to be more impulsive than their peers and often struggle to understand that their actions have consequences. This is because their frontal lobe develops more slowly than their peers’. This affects their ability to plan ahead, change old habits, read social cues, and understand cause-and-effect. For example, a child with ADHD is more likely to be tempted by the fluffer-nutter sandwich in the cafeteria than her friends and is less likely to realize that her decision will leave her feeling guilty later.
Behavior therapy teaches people with ADHD how to monitor and control their behavior. It can also include giving them some sort of feedback, like a reward system, to reinforce the desired behavior. Talk therapy can help adults with ADHD deal with their emotional baggage, which can include feelings of shame or embarrassment, resentment over past mistakes, and ongoing problems in work and relationships.