The symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), also known as Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) are widely spread. There are many adults who are affected by ADHD in Australia.
There is a commonly held belief, by some, that ADHD vanishes as soon as a child becomes an adult. Unfortunately, this is not the case – the manifestations of ADHD may change as a person ages, but they continue to have the condition. In fact studies show that about 50 percent of children and adolescents diagnosed with ADHD will continue to have symptoms in adulthood.
From my experience as a practitioner, ADHD is a lifelong condition. The fact is, not all are bothered by the symptoms, or some learn to cope with them as they get on in life.
So how many adults are coping with ADHD? In Australia, the National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing reported that 11% of children and adolescents fulfilled the criteria for ADHD. Considering that 50 percent will continue to exhibit symptoms in adulthood, there may be as many as 5 percent of all Australian adults living with ADHD. Based on studies in other countries, the actual number may be closer to 3 or 4 percent of adults who continue to suffer the symptoms of ADHD. In the United States for instance, it is estimated that 8 to 9 million adults are dealing with ADHD symptoms as an adult.
Whether you choose 3 percent or 5 percent, it’s clear that there are a lot of adults in Australia who are continuing to cope with ADHD in adulthood, many of whom have not been diagnosed and are not receiving proper treatment. The symptoms of ADHD create challenges for adults in their personal lives as well as in the workplace. However, ADHD is not an excuse for inexcusable behaviour at any age.
The challenges of adult ADHD may seem daunting when you or a loved one is coping with ADHD, there are treatment options available. Seek a medical professional, and get a proper diagnosis to start managing your ADHD as an adult, and getting back to the life you deserve.
Let’s take a look at the top 10 challenges faced by adults with ADHD to better understand why it is important to acknowledge the condition, have it properly diagnosed – and importantly, treated:
1. STAYING FOCUSED
Inattention or the inability to stay focused on a task is very common issue faced by adults with ADHD. Adults with ADHD may have a really hard time paying attention to details and they get easily distracted. Background noises like movement, someone speaking outside their office at work, or the noise of the radio or TV at home can be very distracting not only for children, but also for adults with ADHD.
2. BEING ON TIME
Do you have a hard time being punctual? Time management is a huge problem for adults with ADHD. Very often they are late at work, late at picking up their kids from school, and late at appointments or meetings. Missing deadlines happens very often to people suffering from ADHD.
3. STAYING ORGANIZED
Organizing a daily schedule or the priority of daily responsibilities at work is a challenge for many adults with ADHD. Paperwork is especially an issue since it requires good organisation, prioritisation, and dedication to complete all tasks thoroughly and focus on the details. Maintaining detailed documentation, finding important paperwork and filling-in reports becomes a burden for adults coping with ADHD.
4. DRIVING CAREFULLY
This is a challenge that requires immediate help from a medical professional. Researchers found that people with ADHD are about 50 percent more likely to be in serious traffic accidents, compared to people without the condition. Inattentiveness and distractibility are one of the most common issues facing adults with ADHD, and it may make it difficult to stay safe on the road. Strangely however, some adults coping with ADHD report having the radio on in the car helps them to focus better on driving!!
5. FINISHING PROJECTS
Starting a number of projects but not finishing even one? Sound familiar? Finishing projects completely is a challenge that affects the career and personal life of those with ADHD. There is a tendency for a project to be completed 90% of the way, and then a new project takes over its place. Adults with ADHD may start lots of projects, learning many different things, becoming a jack-of-all-trades, but a master of none.
6. GETTING ENOUGH SLEEP
Although this is not listed in the diagnostic manuals as a symptom many have problems falling asleep because there are just too many things on their mind. Having trouble getting up in the morning? A lack of sleep is a common challenge that adults with ADHD face. According to ADDitude magazine,up to 50 percent of children and 80 percent of adults with ADHD have problems going to sleep, staying asleep, getting restful sleep, and getting up the next morning.
7. KEEPING ONE JOB
For adults with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder it is very hard to stay with one job for a long period of time. ADHD symptoms like impulsiveness and hyperactivity make it hard to find and maintain steady employment. One national survey showed that only half of adults with ADHD were able to hold down a full-time job, compared to 72% of adults without the disorder.
8. MEMORIZING RESPONSIBILITIES, NAMES AND DEADLINES
Forgetfulness is an issue that impacts the social relationships, job responsibilities and family obligations of adults with ADHD. Forgetting names, where an object was placed, doctors appointments, and important dates are another typical challenge faced by adults with ADHD. The visits to the lost property office was dramatically reduced in one of my patients who began treatment.
9. BECOMING BORED QUICKLY
Boredom is the greatest enemy at work for adults with ADHD, this is even the case for people that have chosen a career path they enjoy the most. Usually when they learn something new, it doesn’t take long before they become bored doing it. Adults with ADHD consistently seek excitement and want to be challenged and be given new, different responsibilities on a daily basis.
10. BUILDING INTERPERSONAL RELATIONSHIPS
The most common symptoms of ADHD can impact the ability to develop healthy, balanced relationships. Distractibility and impulsivity may affect the ability of adults with ADHD to be good team members and good partners. They are usually interruptive, can’t listen to others and easily become angry or frustrated.
While these challenges for adults coping with ADHD may seem insurmountable, there are many treatment options available. In the past, treatment was primarily focused on children with ADHD. As more adults are acknowledging the challenges they face, and are seeking treatment, more options are becoming available.
For you, or a loved one who is suffering with ADHD, receiving a proper diagnosis from a medical professional is the most important first step.
Do you have a community, group or organisation that’s impacted by ADD, ADHD, or adult ADHD? I provide workshops and talks to help people better understand and support those who are coping with ADHD, as well as tools to help organisations be more productive with employees who suffer from ADD and ADHD. Send an inquiry to learn more, I’m always happy to help.
Dr Mahendra Perera is a General Psychiatrist who treats adult patients in Melbourne, Australia. Dr Perera has specific interests in ADHD, Mood Disorders and Addiction. In addition working with his patients, he has also contributed to research across a number of specialties and helped many young doctors make their way in the medical field. Learn more about Dr Perera.
Please note: Dr Perera has no financial arrangement with any of the providers listed on the site. These resources are provided as a courtesy to patients, and are not intended as a recommendation or endorsement.