BY ANNI LAYNE RODGERS, NATHALY PESANTEZMEDICALLY REVIEWED BY ROBERTO OLIVARDIA, PH.D. ON JULY 27, 2021
ADHD in Adults (25 Years+): Challenges and SolutionsDevelopmental Milestones in AdulthoodADHD is not just a childhood disorder. It’s a lifelong condition for most individuals that can change in presentation through the stages of adulthood — getting married, starting a family, moving up the career ladder or changing jobs, and managing a home. For adults with ADHD, navigating these milestones successfully requires specific developmental skills:
1. Work in 25-minute bursts with short breaks in between. When random thoughts sidetrack your focus, write them down in a separate document for later. Use fidget tools or chewing gum to boost focus.
2. To compensate for working memory deficits, put relevant information in calendars, planners, sticky notes, apps, emails, and other tools. Automate tasks and bill paying as much as possible, and set reminders for recurring events.
3. To create a simple budget, note your take-home pay and subtract monthly expenses — rent or mortgage, electricity, cable, heat, water, and groceries. Schedule payment due dates or, better yet, set up automatic payments. Manage the remaining income by using tracking apps, and curb impulse shopping by carrying minimal cash.
4. To chip away at piles of stuff, categorize items and create rules for them (e.g., recycle all magazines and catalogs). Set a timer and limit your work to small areas, using baskets or clear containers for easy, sustainable organization. Consider hiring an ADHD coach or a professional organizer to help you stay organized.
5. Combat emotional dysregulation by anticipating stressors and practicing self-regulation when they are unavoidable. For example, pause and name your feelings, or practice a two-minute deep-breathing exercise when you feel anger or frustration welling up. Many adults with ADHD use cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to help them identify distorted, unreasonable thoughts and provide productive tools for dealing with emotions.
6. When tensions run high in your relationships, remove yourself from the situation by taking a walk or drive and return when you’ve calmed down. Practice accountability — talk openly about your difficulties with your partner when appropriate, and apologize for mistakes. Above all, communicate.
ADHD in Adults: TreatmentsOutsmarting ADHD is a life-long balancing and fine-tuning act that often uses ADHD medication, but almost never medication alone. Most effective treatment plans include behavior interventions, ADHD coaching, exercise and healthy eating, and school and/or workplace accommodations.
To aid all-day focus at work, adults with ADHD may consider extended-release formulations and/or revisit their stimulant medication choice, dosage, and timing. Talk to your doctor about making mid-life medication adjustments, and consider augmenting your meds with CBT or dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), which work to disarm and replace the negative thinking patterns that cause chronic problems at work, at home, and in relationships.
Jeff Stull DMin PhD
Dr. Jeff Stull is an Individual, Marriage and Family Counselor who enjoys assisting his clients in developing creative alternatives to everyday life, love and work challenges. As a Licensed Professional Counselor and Mental Health Counselor he has specialized trainings in Relationship Repair, Abuse Recovery, Adolescents, and Mindfulness. He holds certifications including Professional Counseling Supervision, Clinical Sexology, Professional Christian Counseling and Accelerated Resolution Therapy(ART). He serves his clients in Alpharetta, Cumming and Dahlonega, Georgia and all over the world via Skype.