Adult ADD Treatment can be necessary if symptoms interfere with daily functioning and quality of life. It can include medication, but often self-help strategies, cognitive behaviour therapy and professional life coaches can be most helpful. It should be noted that while the designation of “Attention Deficit Disorder” (ADD) is being phased out in favor of the term “Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder” (ADHD), it is still appropriate to refer to the condition as “ADD” in certain cases at this time, and will be used throughout this article.
Adults with ADD often experience a number of characteristic symptoms that can be incredibly frustrating to deal with on a day to day basis. An individual displaying a number of these symptoms may find some sort of treatment necessary. Some of these may include:
- Sense of underachievement.
- Doesn’t deal well with frustration.
- Easily flustered and stressed out.
- Irritability or mood swings.
- Trouble staying motivated.
- Hypersensitivity to criticism.
- Short, often explosive, temper.
- Low self-esteem and sense of insecurity.
- Feelings of inner restlessness, agitation.
- Tendency to take risks.
- Getting bored easily.
- Racing thoughts.
- Trouble sitting still; constant fidgeting.
- Craving for excitement.
- Talking excessively.
- Doing a million things at once.
If left untreated an adult with ADD can eventually have physical and mental health problems including compulsive eating, substance abuse, anxiety, chronic stress and tension, and low self-esteem. ADD that is left without treatment can also further negatively influence the individual’s work; for example, individuals with ADD who leave it untreated may have difficulty finding or keeping a job, following on-the-job rules, meeting work deadlines and sticking to the office routine. Finances can be negatively affected when the individual with untreated ADD struggles with unpaid or late bills, lost paperwork, late fees, or debt due to impulsive spending. The symptoms and characteristics of ADD can also strain relationships due to the constant nagging from loved ones or friends to tidy up, listen better or get organized. Treatment of ADD can be the answer to solve these unwanted results.
Individuals with ADD need not be victims of their condition. The following self-help strategies as a form of adult ADD treatment may prove to be very beneficial and effective:
- Exercise and Proper Nutrition: Exercise vigorously and regularly and treat it as part of your treatment. Research has found that exercise helps to burn extra energy and feelings of anger and frustration while calming the body, lifting a person’s mood and increasing their attention span. Eating healthy and limiting sugary and processed foods will aid greatly in minimizing mood swings.
- Sleep: When an individual is tired it is harder for the mind to focus, to manage stress, to stay productive and to keep on top of your responsibilities and tasks. Optimal sleep amounts for adults are between seven and eight hours every night, and this will greatly increase the effectiveness of any adult ADD treatment program.
- Time Management: Get into the habit of setting and respecting deadlines for everything, even tiny and seemingly meaningless tasks. Don’t be afraid to take breaks regularly and avoid piling up paperwork by procrastinating by, “only ever touching a piece of paper once.” When something comes in, handle it. Write down every assignment, message or important idea and rely on a day-minder to help you remember.
- Relationships: Make time for friends by scheduling enjoyable activities. Try especially to improve the quality of conversations you have with friends and family; listen when someone is talking, and try not to speak too quickly or interrupt too often (if at all).
- Create a Supportive Environment: Strategize! Make use of lists, color-coding, reminders, notes-to-self, rituals, files and post-it-notes. Try and choose a job that interests you. Team up with less creative and more organized people; allow your strengths to fill and complement their weaknesses and vice versa.
All or a combination of the above self-help strategies may be all an individual with ADD needs to lead a relatively normal life.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Adult ADD
Cognitive behavioural therapy as part of an ADD treatment program encourages an individual to identify and change the negative beliefs and behaviours that are causing difficulties in their life. The main goal of this therapy is to change the negative outlook into a more hopeful, positive and realistic perspective. When included in an adult ADD treatment program, cognitive behavioural therapy can also focus on practical issues that come with ADD, such as disorganization, work performance, poor time management and deteriorating relationships.
Professional Coaches for Treatment of ADD
Behavioural coaches and professional organizers are not meant to replace therapy or medication, but can be a valuable addition to any ADD treatment program.
Behavioural coaches focus mainly on practical solutions to problems in everyday life, rather than on working through the emotional difficulties of the disorder. Coaches can teach strategies for organizing the home and office, strategies for setting up an effective daily and weekly schedule and strategies for managing finances. An effective coach can help an individual tackle such difficult areas as prioritizing, motivation, procrastination and time management as part of an adult ADD treatment program. The ADD coach may come to an individual’s home or talk with the person over the phone.
Professional organizers, on the other hand, are adept at helping an individual organize their belongings, schedules or environments (home or work) and prove incredibly beneficial as part of an adult ADD treatment program. Professional organizers have the ability to reduce the stress that clutter can create, to save time for the individual by organizing belongings more effectively, to improve responsibility by creating a workable schedule and figuring out a strategy to stick to it, and reduce frustration by setting up a system for paperwork and bill filing. A professional organizer comes to the individual’s home or place of work, evaluates the way things are currently set-up, and then recommends and follows through with the changes.
Focus on the Strengths
It’s important for any individual with ADD to focus on their strengths, while working around their weaknesses. Most individuals with ADD are incredibly creative, have a ton of energy and an amazing potential to pursue their passions. While ADD does come with its own set of weaknesses, allow any treatment to capitalize on the strengths and minimize the frustrations. With correct adult ADD treatment an individual can function as well as a neurotypical individual, using their talents to achieve success while overcoming the frustrations and obstacles of ADD.