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Understanding adult ADD

Noted author and acclaimed psychotherapist Stephanie Sarkis, PhD is a clinician, researcher, Psychology Today expert blog contributor, and diagnosed ADD patient. She works with patients and clients by phone, internet and in her Florida o...

Adult ADD is real

You're always running late. You have to turn around and drive back to the house because you forgot something. You act and speak before thinking. You always have a feeling of “inner restlessness." If this sounds familiar, you may have adult attention deficit disorder (ADD). And you are not alone. There are approximately 13 million people in the United States who have ADD. Here’s more on managing ADD as an adult, and resources for help.

Frustrated woman at computer

Types of attention deficit disorder (ADD)

There are three types of ADD: the inattentive type, the hyperactive/impulsive type and the combined type.

  • Inattentive ADD symptoms include difficulty focusing, not checking your work or making careless mistakes, or losing items.
  • Hyperactive/impulsive ADD symptoms include difficulty staying seated, interrupting or behaving as if you were "driven by a motor."
  • The combined type of ADD includes symptoms for both the inattentive type and the hyperactive/impulsive type.

Kids with ADD grow up to be adults with ADD

Adults with ADD have had these difficulties since childhood. Their grade-school report cards may have said things like "Doesn't work to potential" or "Doesn't stay in seat." Experts used to believe that kids could "grow out of" ADD. However, research suggests that most children with ADD grow up to be adults with ADD. Just as your childhood ADD caused problems at school, ADD as an adult can also affect your job. Even worse, it can also cause difficulties at home and with your social life.

Treatments for adult ADD

Luckily, there is treatment available for ADD. Medication, counseling and coaching are some of the options available to help you manage ADD as an adult. Your best bet is to see an ADD specialist such as a psychiatrist, psychologist, or counselor so you can get a thorough evaluation and an ADD treatment plan that is right for you.

Adult ADDTips for managing adult ADD

Here are some suggestions for making tasks easier: 

  • When starting a large project, first break it down into smaller parts or goals.
  • If this is a challenge for you, ask for help from a friend or family member.
  • Remember to take frequent breaks while you are working to give your brain a rest. For example, work for 30 minutes at a time, then take a 15-minute break.
  • When you are decluttering, have an organized friend help you out.

The ADD advantages

Now the upside -- people with ADD tend to be creative and "think outside the box." We just need a little help transforming those ideas into a finished product. We also tend to have a great sense of humor!

Resources for adult ADD

When ADD starts to get the best of you, remember that there is help available and that you are not alone.

Visit these ADD resources for more information:

More on ADD and improving your focus

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