Do you ask questions but immediately zone out and miss the answer? Do you struggle with procrastination? Maybe you have difficulty relaxing.
If you relate to these issues, you could have adult attention-deficient hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
ADHD is a condition that’s often joked about and dismissed flippantly. “Sorry I didn’t hear what you said, it’s my ADHD.”
But the truth of the matter is, ADHD in adults can have debilitating effects on those with an undiagnosed condition.
While adults with ADHD don’t have to worry about getting in trouble at school, they may struggle with consistency at work, meeting deadlines, and being on time for meetings.
Studies have found adults with ADHD are:
- Three times more likely to develop a substance abuse disorder
- Less likely to complete high school
- Earn less money
- More likely to get divorced
- More likely to lose a job
- More likely to file for bankruptcy
And an estimated 48 percent of adults who have ADHD have not yet discussed their symptoms with their doctor.
The good news is there are a number of things you can do for your mental health to curb the negative side effects of adult ADHD. But the first step to reducing its impact in your life is obtaining a proper diagnosis.
Six Questions to Ask Yourself
The Adult ADHD Self-Report Scale (ASRS) was released in April 2017 in the Journal of the American Medical Association – Psychiatry. The ASRS is a self-diagnosis scale developed by researchers of the World Health Organization (WHO) to help adults take a first step and determine if they should see their doctors for a proper diagnosis.
There are six basic questions outlined in the ASRS, which were developed to reliably identify ADHD in adults.
Ask yourself these six questions using the answers “never”, “rarely”, “sometimes”, “often” or “very often”:
- How often do you have difficulty concentrating on what people say to you, even when they are speaking to you directly?
- How often do you leave your seat during meetings and other situations in which you are expected to remain seated?
- How often do you have difficulty unwinding and relaxing when you have time to yourself?
- When you’re in a conversation, how often do you find yourself finishing the sentence of the people you are talking to before they can finish it themselves?
- How often do you put things off until the last minute?
- How often do you depend on others to keep your life in order and attend to details?
If your answers to the above questions made you suspicious that you might have ADHD, there’s a longer questionnaire of 18 questions that you can check out.
It’s important to understand that both these questionnaires do not replace the professional diagnosis of a doctor. In fact, you’ll need a complete diagnosis from a doctor familiar with adult ADHD.
The same report which outlined these questions, also found an adult ADHD prevalence of 8.2 percent in the United States. This is almost double the rate of adult ADHD found in a commonly cited 2006 study from the American Journal of Psychiatry of 4.4 percent.
Stimulants Aren’t Always the Answer!
Here are 7 Tips for Living with Adult ADHD
Being diagnosed with ADHD for most adults is a huge relief. Especially since there are options to alleviate the impacts of your condition.
If you’ve struggled with undiagnosed ADHD, chances are you’ve felt incompetent, inadequate or even stupid at times. In reality, you’re none of those things.
Many doctors are too quick to put patients on stimulants such as Adderall, when there are a number of things you can try first which are better for you and more natural. Remember, stimulants can have unintended side effects and are addictive, so it’s better to avoid them if possible.
Supplementation with B vitamins, magnesium, calcium, zinc, choline, omega 3 fish oils, and probiotics can be helpful as well.
Also your neurotransmitters can be measured through speciality testing and treated with supplements. Neurotransmitters are chemical messengers used by the nervous system to relay information from one nerve to the next. Imbalances can cause the brain and body to be over- or under-stimulated . Natural treatments can be directed at these imbalances .
When you’re living with ADHD as an adult there are several things you can do to take care of your mental health, including:
- Eat right – This is priority number one. If you have adult ADHD there are several food items you should eliminate from your diet if you want to make your life easier. These include: sugar, artificial sweeteners, gluten, MSG, caffeine, food coloring and dyes, and nitrates.
- Get plenty of sleep – Nearly everyone focuses better when they have a good night’s sleep, but when you have adult ADHD it’s extra important. Try to get 7-8 uninterrupted hours of sleep each night.
- Exercise regularly – Working out is crucial for anyone looking to balance their mental health because it releases feel-good endorphins and helps you clear your mind.
- Give yourself something to fiddle with – Yes, even a fidget spinner would work here. If you have ADHD and need to sit through a long meeting, give yourself something relatively non-distracting to do.
- Prioritize your to-do list – It’s common for those with ADHD to understand the importance of a to-do list to organize their thoughts. However, where they get into trouble is when they get distracted and end up doing the least important things, or minutia, first.
- Meditation – It may be more difficult for those with ADHD to meditate but they arguably benefit the most. Try short, guided meditations to start. Aura is a wonderful app that has simple three and seven minute meditations.
- Diffuse essential oils – Vetiver has been shown to improve symptoms of ADHD. In one study, children with ADHD who were exposed to diffused vetiver essential oil, showed a 32 percent improvement their test scores.
Choosing the Right Doctor
It’s important to choose the right doctor if you’re interested in diagnosing your ADHD. This is because studies have found a significant difference in primary care physicians and physiatrists ability to confidently diagnose ADHD.
You’ll need a doctor who is familiar with the symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, and management protocols for a comprehensive approach to tackling your ADHD.
Choosing a functional medicine practitioner who is familiar with ADHD diagnostics can help you approach your condition with a holistic treatment plan. So, if you’ve answered yes to more than one of the six questions above, make an appointment with your functional medicine doctor today.
I have over 23 years of experience in diagnosing adult ADHD. Together with my patients, we develop a treatment plan which takes all aspects of health into consideration. We examine nutrition, hormones, lifestyle, genetics, and environment to find the root cause and contributing factors behind your ADHD.
Share this article with a friend who might have adult ADHD – chances are they don’t realize the impact it may have on their life.
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