Ever used the phrase at work, “Ugh, I am feeling sooo ADD today, I can’t seem to focus on anything!”? Unfortunately, ADHD is an actual disorder that does occur in adults, and can cause significant life difficulties. According to WebMD about 60% of people who are diagnosed with ADHD do not outgrow the disorder. According to the DSM-IV-TR (which is the diagnostic manual for psychiatrists and psychologists), the following are the criteria to be diagnosed with the disorder…
- Often not giving close attention to details, making careless mistakes in schoolwork, work, or other activities.
- Often has trouble keeping attention on tasks or activities
- Does not seem to listen when spoken to directly
- Often does not follow instructions, fails to finish schoolwork or duties int he workplace (not because of of failure to understand instructions)
- Often has trouble organizing activities.
- Often avoids, dislikes, or doesn’t want to do things that take a lot of mental effort for a long period of time
- Often loses things needed for tasks and activities
- Is often easily distracted
- Is often forgetful in daily activities
- Often fidgets with hands or feet or squirms in seat (can’t sit still)
- Often gets up from seat when remaining in seat is expected
- Often has trouble enjoying leisure activities quietly
- Is often “on the go” or often acts as if “driven by a motor”.
- Often talks excessivelyImpuslivity-
- Often blurts out answers before questions have been finished
- Often has trouble waiting one’s turn
- Often interrupts or intrudes on others (e.g. butts into conversations)
Here are 5 surprises about AD/HD:
- AD/HD does exist and is not a conspiracy by scientists to medicate people. It is a real medical condition that is biologically based.
- AD/HD is not simply a lack of willpower.
- Bad parenting does not cause AD/HD. However, studies show a genetic predisposition for AD/HD within families.
- Adults with AD/HD are not stupid or lazy. Recent studies reveal that people with AD/HD actually tend to have above average intelligence but it does not show because of the AD/HD.
- AD/HD can be treated without medication. New research indicates that you can improve brain functioning with direct, deliberate practice. This is called neuroplasticity. Relaxation, concentration and other self management exercises can improve the ability to sustain attention in some people.
- Difficulty listening and paying attention. An individual with ADHD may “zone out” or talk out of turn, making it difficult to communicate. It can also cause the partner to feel as though what he or she has to say doesn’t matter.
- Trouble completing tasks. ADHD can lead to poor organizational skills and forgetfulness. A man with ADHD may miss his wife’s birthday or their wedding anniversary, or may forget to stop at the store on the way home from work as his wife had asked. This forgetfulness may make his wife feel hurt and think that her husband doesn’t care, when he’s actually forgotten because he has trouble staying on top of things. That same inability to finish tasks may translate into a lack of commitment when it comes to marriage or other relationships.
- Inability to handle responsibilities. Someone with ADHD might forget to pay the bills, neglect to clear a dangerous pile of branches from the backyard, or leave a toxic cleaner on the sink while the children are playing nearby.
- Impulsive behavior. People with ADHD constantly need stimulation, and may fail to think through the consequences of their actions. This can lead to reckless, irresponsible behaviors (like driving too fast with the kids in the car).
- Emotional overreaction. Someone with ADHD may lose his or her temper easily, leading to major misunderstandings and sometimes, big blowout fights. Arguments can quickly spiral out of control because the person with ADHD is unable to talk through issues calmly.
- For the non-ADHD partner, learn about the disorder. Educate yourself on what exactly it means and what the symptoms are. Let your partner explain to you what it is like for them to experience the disorder.
- Try making lists together of things that you each would like to get done if it’s a “running errands” kind of day… or just even daily things you’d like to get done. Put the list somewhere that it is easily seen, so no matter where you get distracted, you have something to help get you back on track.
- Avoid getting into the trap of “pesterer & tuner-outer” and the “master and slave” patterns. Discuss ways that the partner with ADHD is okay with being reminded to do things, or if you have ADHD, set reminders on your phone or computer, so you can stay on top of “to do” items yourself. It is easy to get stuck in these patterns, and for the non-ADHD partner to try to take control of the relationship.
- Most importantly… set up a routine!!! Being in a routine, keeping structure, can help both partners remember when things are supposed to be done, and it ensure all things get completed. Having a schedule/routine/structure… whatever you want to call it, helps prevent getting distracted and moving onto other tasks.
- Tips on ADHD in Couples
- ADHD in Marriage and Romantic Relationships
- Solutions for Intimacy problems for Adults with ADHD
- Feeling Ignored, the Non-ADHD Spouse Dilema
- How Adult ADHD Affects Relationships: Strategies for Coping
- Relationship Issues For Adults with AD/HD
- 5 Surprises about ADHD in the Workplace
- ADHD in the Workplace
Nicole Paulie is a Counselling Psychologist, and co-author of “How to be Happy and Healthy – The seven natural elements of mental health.” She provides therapy in the Dublin city area. Contact us to learn more or to book an appointment.