ADHD in Adults (cont.)
Roxanne Dryden-Edwards, MD
Dr. Roxanne Dryden-Edwards is an adult, child, and adolescent psychiatrist. She is a former Chair of the Committee on Developmental Disabilities for the American Psychiatric Association, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, and Medical Director of the National Center for Children and Families in Bethesda, Maryland.
William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.
In this Article
- What is attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)?
- What is the impact of ADHD in adults?
- How common is ADHD in adults?
- What are common adult ADHD symptoms, behaviors, and problems?
- What school-related impairments are linked to adult ADHD?
- What work-related impairments are linked to adult ADHD?
- What social-related impairments are linked to adult ADHD?
- What relationship-related impairments are linked to adult ADHD?
- How is adult ADHD diagnosed?
- What medications are used in the treatment of adult ADHD?
- What psychosocial behavior management strategies treat ADHD?
- Are there support groups for adults with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder?
- Where can people find additional information on attention deficit hyperactivity disorder?
- Find a local Psychiatrist in your town
What psychosocial behavior management strategies treat ADHD?
The behavioral, educational/vocational, and psychotherapy components of treatment for ADHD are at least as important as the medication treatment. Teaching adults with the condition about ADHD and strategies for managing their difficulties with issues like time management, organizational skills, impulse control, and problem solving can be key to effectively addressing their issues. Emotional difficulties adults with ADHD may have with self-esteem, relationships, managing anger, and engaging in negative behaviors are also important aspects of their care.Another intervention used to treat ADHD is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). This form of therapy seeks to help those with this condition identify and decrease the irrational thoughts and behaviors that reinforce maladaptive behaviors and can be administered either individually or in group therapy. CBT that seeks to help the ADHD sufferer decrease the tendency to pay excessive attention to potential threats has also been found to be helpful, particularly for people who have anxiety or depression in addition to ADHD.
Behavioral techniques that are often used to decrease ADHD may involve learning when and where specific behaviors occur. That can go a long way toward understanding how to encourage the behavior happening again if it's positive or extinguishing it if the behavior is negative. Being aware of how the reactions of others contribute to a behavior's continuing or not continuing tend to help the adult with ADHD shape their behaviors more positively. Also, developing a fair and effective repertoire of ways to encourage positive behaviors and learning from the negative outcomes associated with maladaptive behaviors is a key component of any behavior management plan as well.
Often, a combination of medication and nonmedication interventions produces good results. Depending on the course of treatment deemed most appropriate, improvement may be noticed in a fairly short period of time, from two to three weeks to two to three months. Thus, appropriate treatment for ADHD can relieve symptoms or at least substantially reduce their severity and frequency, bringing significant relief to many adults who have this condition. There are also things that people with ADHD can do to help make treatment more effective. Substances like alcohol and illicit drugs can worsen ADHD and should be avoided. Other tips to manage ADHD symptoms include getting adequate sleep, using visual techniques, as well as seeking reminders from loved ones to remember tasks and assignments.
People with an ADHD may also need treatment for other emotional problems. Depression and anxiety have often been associated with ADHD, as have alcohol and other drug abuse. Recent research also suggests that suicide attempts are more frequent in people with ADHD. Fortunately, these problems associated with ADHD can be overcome effectively, just like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder itself. Sadly, many adults with ADHD do not seek or receive treatment.
Living with adult ADHD
For individuals who may be wondering how to manage the symptoms of ADHD using treatment without prescribed medications, nutritional interventions are sometimes used. While treatment such as limiting exposure to food additives, preservatives, and processed sugars have been found to be helpful for some people with ADHD, the research data is still considered to be too limited for many physicians to recommend nutritional interventions. Also, placing such restrictions on one's eating habits can prove to be nearly impossible.
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