Many adults ‘discover’ their own ADHD-ness only when their own child has been diagnosed. The penny drops and reactions are often: “But I was like that as a child/at school.”
Suddenly the cause for unhappy childhood experiences, problems at school, anxiety, depression and clashes with parents become clear. Potentially this can be a liberating experience, conversely it can also come as a shocker.
So what to do about this new found ‘status’.
It all depends really on the coping mechanisms you have developed over the years. Some adults cope just fine, they are happily married and everyone around them accepts their quirkiness and forgetfulness.
But when your ADHD-ness has a severe impact on your self-esteem, your mental state, your ability to organise yourself, your marriage, your job and the way you parent your child, it is probably time to start looking for help.
‘Help’ can take many forms – medication, psychotherapy, coaching, Behaviour Parent Training, yoga and meditation, or a combination of treatments.
The usual stimulant ADHD medication, including slow-release forms, are often prescribed for adults with ADHD, but not all of these medications are appropriate for adults.
Anti-depressants are sometimes used to treat adults with ADHD. ‘Older’ forms like,Tricyclics, affect the neurotransmitters norepinephrine and dopamine. Newer anti-depressants, venlafaxine, may also be prescribed for its effect on norepinephrine, while bupropion (Wellbutrin) which affects dopamine, has shown in clinical trials to be beneficial for adults with ADHD.
Stimulant treatment for adults require special consideration, as many adults often use other medication for clinical problems (diabetes, high-blood pressure, anxiety, and depression). Some of these medications may interact badly with stimulants. An adult with ADHD should discuss potential medication options with his or her doctor. These and other issues must be taken into account when a medication is prescribed.
A Coach can help an adult with ADHD learn how to organize his or her life with tools such as a large calendar or date book, lists, reminder notes, and by assigning a special place for keys, bills, and paperwork. Large tasks can be broken down into more manageable, smaller steps so that completing each part of the task provides a sense of accomplishment. A coach is also valuable in holding an adult accountable for his/her behaviour. Motivation, self-regulation and impulsivity are all aspects that a good coach will be able to help with. Adults with ADHD also often get lost in the trees (can’t see the woods) or they only see the wood and forget about the trees. Knowing what is important when and why, are areas that a coach can help with and in doing so combat procrastination.
Psychotherapy, including cognitive behavioural therapy, also can help change one’s poor self-image by examining the experiences that produced it. The therapist encourages the adult with ADHD to adjust to the life changes that come with treatment, such as thinking before acting, or resisting the urge to take unnecessary risks. Working through past issues and hurt are sometimes necessary before we can move forward. If this is the case and you are stuck in old stuff – maybe a couple of sessions on the couch is not a bad idea.
Behavioural Parent Training
To be able to parent an ADHD child effectively you need to stay calm and in control at all times. If you want your rules to be followed, you must enforce them consistently. Making empty threats or not following through damages your credibility and undermines your authority. Therefore parents with ADHD need to make sure that they have the necessary self-regulation (behavioural and emotional) to parent effectively. A BPT programme will teache you how to enforce discipline and how to modify your child’s behaviour. Parenting a child with ADHD is demanding at best, even more so if the parent has deficits of his/her own.
Yoga, Meditation & Mindfulness
Learning how to ‘calm your mind’, ‘be in your body’, ‘live in the now’, ‘limiting judgementalness’, are all benefits of yoga, meditation and mindfulness. All of these exercises have shown to have great benefits for people with ADHD. Improved concentration, better emotional regulation, de-stressing and improved general health are just some of the benefits.
Sometimes we need more than one intervention on our journey, but remember life is about learning and living. Make every day count!