ADHD in young adults

For most of his school years, Zach struggled with procrastination and struggled with organization. People often told her she needed to manage her time better or find systems to help her manage her schedule. But these suggestions never seemed to solve the problem.

So he was not surprised when he was diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) at the age of 22.

“I’ve always been like, ‘I’m just wired this way and there’s really nothing I can do about it,'” says Zach, who asked that we not use his last name for privacy reasons.

Symptoms 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 are not as obvious as in children, but they are similar. Young adults with ADHD usually do not show as much hyperactivity as they did in childhood. But they can be restless, have difficulty controlling impulses and paying attention.

While working on his college degree, Zach stayed up many nights to complete assignments. It’s normal for college students to struggle with time management at first, but Zach noticed that his procrastination was much more demanding than his peers’. He often had to work with his professors to adjust deadlines so he could complete his work.

It wasn’t until other people in her life found out they had ADHD that she considered the option.

Like Zach, some young adults may begin to wonder about ADHD when they notice that they are having trouble with their daily tasks. Or perhaps your family, professors, or friends notice patterns in your behavior that seem inconsistent or forgetful. Warning signs include:

  • Focusing problem
  • Problems with impulse control
  • Trouble with priorities
  • Lack of organization
  • Poor time management
  • Problem with multitasking
  • Restlessness
  • Frustration
  • Mood swings
  • Design issues
  • Problems completing tasks
  • Problems dealing with stress
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These symptoms can lead to problems at work, school or social life. Young adults with ADHD have difficulty meeting deadlines, getting to meetings or events on time, or controlling their emotional outbursts.

Your doctor will likely perform a series of tests to make a diagnosis. They will perform a physical exam to rule out other conditions, ask about your medical history and any other conditions you may have, perform psychological tests, and use ADHD rating scales to look more deeply at your symptoms.

There are three main types of ADHD, and testing may depend on your symptoms. The types are:

  • Hyperactive-impulsive. This is the least common form of ADHD. This makes him impulsive and has restless tendencies.
  • Inattentive. This type has problems with the ability to pay attention.
  • Combined. This is the most common type and shows symptoms of both the other forms.

Sometimes a person who does not have one of the first two types goes undiagnosed for years. Because they only have one type of symptom, their doctor may not recognize their ADHD earlier.

Doctors may also call people with ADHD “high-functioning,” meaning they’ve gone through life 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 a high level of work carried him through grade school and most of college. “Sometimes it’s easy to miss the ones that work well,” he says.

Regardless of the type of ADHD, symptoms can be challenging for young adults. “From starting college to getting your first job, renting your first apartment, buying your first house, all of these growing-up things require a lot of executive functioning skills,” says Zach. These skills—such as adaptive thinking, planning, self-control, self-monitoring, time management, memory, and organization—are critical to development. But many people with ADHD struggle with them.

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Without treatment, ADHD can lead to many problems for young adults. You may be more likely to have money problems, legal problems, job retention problems, drug or alcohol problems, car accidents, relationship problems, unplanned pregnancies, STDs, low self-esteem, and other mental health problems. are.

According to David W. Goodman, MD, director of the Center for Adult Attention Disorders in Maryland, ADHD treatment is especially important for young people. “When you live with this your whole life, you start to think it’s just me. … That’s who I am,” he says. “When you’re not who you really are, it’s a disease of yours. This is a manifestation of the disorder.”

He finds that treatment helps young adults detach from their condition. With the right help, “they find that they have a much greater ability to do more,” Goodman says. “That’s when their self-confidence increases.”

If you’ve been diagnosed with ADHD, your doctor can provide resources to learn about your condition. Goodman suggests that it’s best for people to read about ADHD before starting treatment to understand what it is, how it affects the chemicals in their brain, and how treatment can help them live a better life. 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 ADHD. You can try stimulants such as methylphenidate (Concerta, Ritalin) or amphetamines (Adderall, Vyvanse) to balance the chemicals in your brain. Or you can use nonstimulant medications, such as antidepressants, if you can’t take stimulants because of side effects or other conditions.

Keep in mind that you will likely need to work with your doctor to find the right medication and dosage for you. This may take some time.

When symptoms have improved with medication, Goodman often recommends therapy for organizational skills, interpersonal skills, and time management.

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Cognitive behavioral therapy is a common type of psychotherapy for ADHD patients. It can help you learn how 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 communication at home and teach you to face challenges more positively.

Medication and therapy are not the only ways to improve ADHD symptoms. Carly Duryea, 23, discovered she had inattentive/disruptive ADHD when she was in high school. She shares these strategies that help her stay on top of her schedule:

  • Obtaining it in writing. Duryea calls himself a “list maker.” Uses written reminders and lists to keep track of your day. This could include grocery lists, event planning, or simple to-do checklists.
  • Visual reminders. Keeping notes around the house and items in the right places will help Duryea jog her memory when she needs it. You’ll find visual cues more helpful than trying to remember various tasks throughout the day.
  • Clean environment. An organized workspace allows for streamlined focus to get work done on time.
  • Preparedness. When Duryea goes out of town or on a day trip, she packs things like extra pain relievers, towels in case it rains, drinks, snacks and anything else she thinks someone might need. It might seem like overkill to some, he says, but it’s one of the best ways to treat symptoms like forgetfulness.
  • Accountability. Duryea asks her loved ones to keep her in check. “I work much better under accountability,” he says. “My boyfriend can hold me accountable for certain things…whether it’s something small and insignificant or if it’s something more important than school or a deadline.”