Adults with ADHD: resolve to reach your goals

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For many, the new year brings resolutions and the desire to get organized. But for some adults, staying focused and on task can be challenging. This is especially true for adults with ADHD (attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder).

“People with ADHD tend to be easily distracted and have trouble managing time,” says Dr. Maggie Wilkes a psychiatrist with Roper St. Francis Behavioral Medicine.

The science behind ADHD offers an explanation.

“Those with ADHD have lower levels of dopamine, a chemical in the brain that helps us feel pleasure, reward and motivation,” says Dr. Wilkes. “Without the proper amount of dopamine, we look for more instant gratification. This desire for immediate feedback can distract us from achieving long-term goals.”

Adult ADHD can do more than sabotage a New Year’s resolution. When left unmanaged, it can affect work, finances and relationships.

Wilkes says it’s important to recognize ADHD symptoms—especially if they are affecting your life in a negative way—and talk with your doctor.

Recognizing adult ADHD

“Adulting” can be stressful, and the pressures of balancing work and family can be a lot to handle.

So how can you tell if your lack of focus or time-management problems are actually ADHD? First, says Dr. Wilkes, think back to your childhood.

Adults with ADHD likely had symptoms of the condition as children, whether or not they were diagnosed. In fact, clinicians who treat adult ADHD will ask about early childhood years before making an adult ADHD diagnosis.

Some symptoms you may recall include:

Adult ADHD can look different from the childhood version. The hyperactivity associated with childhood ADHD often decreases into adulthood, while symptoms such as inattention, impulsivity and disorganization persist.

Specific ADHD symptoms to look for as an adult include:

For adults with ADHD, these symptoms can combine with others to impact marriages, friendships and careers.

male student

Develop skills to cope with ADHD

Some adults with ADHD benefit from medication combined with therapy. People with ADHD can also develop skills to manage symptoms better.

Dr. Wilkes recommends five coping skills for adults with ADHD:

“These coping skills would be helpful to anyone—not just someone living with ADHD,” says Wilkes. “But adults with ADHD can feel a great deal of accomplishment by developing skills that eliminate chaos and make them feel more in control.”

If you have trouble coping with your ADHD symptoms, it may be time to seek help.

To connect with a doctor at Roper St. Francis Healthcare, call 843-402-CARE (2273) or search our online physician directory.


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