Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is the second most common mental health disorder in adults, second only to depressive disorders; therefore, ADHD treatment for adults becomes not an option but a necessity.
ADHD symptoms present themselves differently in adulthood than in childhood. First, inattentive symptoms become much more prominent, especially in women. Secondly, frank hyperactivity and impulsivity becomes much more felt than shown, due to a better understanding of social constraints. Most importantly, since the cognitive load for an adult is so much greater than for a child in terms of organization and responsibility, symptoms will often present themselves much more profoundly, especially during transitional periods (i.e. – the transition from high school to college, or from college to the workforce).
The goal of any adult ADHD treatment program should be to gain education about the symptoms, the challenges, the frustrations, and to use this information to create strategies to improve effectiveness in relationships, in job performance and in self-efficacy, while decreasing hyperactive and impulsive tendencies.
Currently, there are more than 350 studies that demonstrate the effectiveness of medication for children with ADHD; medication as a form of adult ADHD treatment is just as viable an option and just as effective. Other studies report a successful treatment rate of over 75%.
Adult ADHD Treatment Options:
- Medications: Prominent among the medications used in adult ADHD treatment are stimulants, which can include different formulations of methylphenidate (short acting, such as Ritalin and Focalin, with a duration of 3-5 hours; intermediate acting, such as Ritalin SR, Metadate ER, and Methylin ER, with a duration of 3-8 hours; long acting, such as Concerta, Rilatin LA and Metadate CD, with a duration of 8-12 hours and which can be used just once a day) or different formulations of amphetamine (short acting, such as Dexedrine and Dextrostat, with a duration of 4-6 hours; intermediate acting, such as Adderall and Dexedrine spansule, with a duration of 6-8 hours; long acting, such as Adderall-XR).
- Counselling: Counselling is an excellent resource to include in any adult ADHD treatment program, as it gives an individual the chance to explore and process feelings and develop strategies and solutions for dealing with the effects of ADHD.
- Coaching: Behind any good athlete is a successful coach; behind any successful person is someone else who guided and supported. Coaches as part of an adult ADHD treatment program can help to create daily structure and organization while providing encouragement and support. A good coach can offer focus during a challenging task, help to set goals, and offer rewards when those goals are reached.
- Support Groups: One ancient proverb states, “In the multitude of counselors, there is accomplishment.” Support groups will give the adult with ADHD a chance to talk and connect with others who are dealing with essentially the same frustrations, from which relationships may spring ideas on how to best tackle what seems daunting in everyday life.
- Exercise: Exercise is not only good for the waste line; the more exercise an individual does, the more heightened his response becomes to stressors – that is, studies show that individuals become less stressed when in a fit condition. Through a process referred to as, “stress inoculation” cells can actually become more resilient to stressors, while building up levels of antioxidant enzymes, repairing and rebuilding proteins and improving the performance of toxic waste disposal crews inside the nerve cells. Further, mood is immediately bettered after exercise, as levels of the body’s natural antidepressants (dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin) are raised.
Co-occurrence of Other Disorders
Before starting with a program of adult ADHD treatment, be aware that ADHD can co-occur with other conditions, referred to as “co-morbid conditions.” Examples include Anxiety Disorders, Disruptive Behavior Disorders, Mood Disorders, Tic Disorders, Learning Disabilities, and so forth. A well-qualified professional can look for the presence of these co-morbid conditions and recommend treatment in addition to the program of adult ADHD treatment.
The Good News
Adults with ADHD have many weaknesses and areas that will need work, but they also offer a unique skillset and diverse set of strengths. Capitalize on these. With a solid adult ADHD treatment program, individuals will be able to minimize their weaknesses while capitalizing on their strengths.