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Adult ADHD: Problems on the Job, at Home and in Relationships

The medical community and the public at large generally think of ADHD as a childhood illness, but as many as 60% of all children continue with this condition into adulthood. Statistics on the incidence of adult ADHD are sketchy, but it is estimated that nearly 4% of adults suffer from the symptoms of ADHD. And for adults with ADHD, everyday living is full of trials, tribulations and a unique set of challenges in the workplace, in the home, and in all manner of relationships.

While more males than females are affected with childhood ADHD, the ratio in adult ADHD appears to be more equal.

Adult ADHD: What Does it Look Like?

While adult ADHD has the same symptoms of inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity, the “acting out” of these symptoms differs greatly from the behavior characteristics of childhood ADHD.

Inattention in adults with ADHD often shows up as:

  • Losing things
  • Forgetting things like appointments, important dates, tasks that need to be done
  • Lack of focus
  • “Spacing out”

Hyperactivity in adults with ADHD usually takes the form of:

  • An inability to relax, always needing to be in some kind of motion
  • Talking excessively, not taking time to “come up for some air”
  • Restlessness

Impulsivity in adults with ADHD is often shown as:

  • Extremely unpredictable moods and actions
  • Interrupting others when they are speaking
  • Blurting out remarks that are offensive or rude

ADHD symptoms tend to change as a child grows into the teenage and adult years with less hyperactivity and more of an effect on inattention and impulsivity.

Adult ADHD and Adult Functioning

While adults and children with ADHD suffer from the same ADHD characteristics, they do, of course, affect each group differently. Children are more affected in school and social interactions. Adults are more affected in all areas of their lives due to the types of relationships in which they interact and “real world” activities.

According to Dr. Thomas E. Brown of the Yale University School of Medicine, “ADHD is essentially a name for developmental impairment of executive function.” What are executive functions? They’re the critical skills that are needed in the areas of planning, attention, motivation and impulse control that cause problems for ADHD adults in the following six categories:

  • Activation – shows up as procrastination, lack of organization, inability to gauge the length of time it takes to finish a task
  • Focus – easily distracted, shifting topics frequently in conversation, “spacing out” when someone is speaking
  • Effort – missing deadlines, not completing tasks, problems sleeping/daytime drowsiness
  • Emotions – frequent mood swings, difficulty managing stress, excessive worry
  • Memory – constantly losing things, forgetting conversations and details of events, missing meetings and appointments
  • Action – requiring immediate gratification, acting impulsively and without thinking, talking without thinking first

Obviously when you look at these six areas of executive function, and the problems that the ADHD adult has in each, it’s no wonder that he or she has problems at work, in relationships and in virtually every area of life! Let’s take a look at some of the effects of adult ADHD on the more important elements of adult life.

The ADHD Adult and Work

Adults with ADHD can have trouble on the job because they tend to be chronically late for work and in handling job-related tasks and assignments. As supervisors, they find it difficult to set priorities and to delegate work. They also have trouble paying attention when talking to bosses and co-workers. Most days they feel they get very little accomplished, no matter how long they’ve been at work.

The ADHD Adult and Relationships

Anyone who has ever been in a relationship, romantic or other, with an ADHD adult can tell you about the strain that the condition places on the relationship. Friends, spouses and family members can only excuse tardiness, the inability to complete tasks, the way “too frank” remarks, the lack of organization and the inability to keep up with responsibilities for so long before resentments take over.

The ADHD Adult and Finances

Finances and ADHD can be a recipe for disaster. The ADHD adult is frequently prone to overspending, forgetting to pay or misplacing bills, maintaining excessive credit card balances as a result of impulsive spending, poor organization and the inability to save money.

The ADHD Adult, Nutrition and Lifestyle

As far as eating is concerned, many ADHD adults tend to be very haphazard in their eating habits. They snack all day, never eating a balanced meal. They eat junk food (fast food, chips, cookies, candy and cakes), lots of carbohydrates and caffeine (coffee, colas and chocolate). And sometimes, they are so distracted that they forget to eat at all and are suddenly so hungry that they grab for anything in sight and eat until they are stuffed.

In terms of lifestyle, many adults with ADHD abuse alcohol and drugs as a means to self-medicate. They may engage in other risky or addictive behaviors (gambling, sex) that put them at risk. They also tend to have very low self esteem which may be a cause and/or a product of these behaviors.

Adult ADHD: The Bright Side

Not everything about the ADHD adult is negative, even though that is what we tend to focus on. There are some positive traits in adults with ADHD that can be assets in any number of situations. These include:

  • Ability to think fast on their feet – Adults with ADHD tend to be quick at coming up with new ways to solve problems. Their brains love constant stimulation and they perform well in crisis situations
  • High energy levels – Help to keep ADHD adults driven and motivated as long as they’re doing something that interests them
  • Creative – Most ADHD adults are masters at “out-of-the-box” thinking and looking at things in a different light. They also are more flexible, independent and open-minded
  • Free-spirited – ADHD adults love spontaneity. They act with a great deal of passion and enthusiasm making them social magnets capable of engaging others in lively conversations

Adult ADHD: Treatment Options

Most of the adult ADHD medications are the same as those available for children (see related article, ADHD Medications Are Controversial and Risky; Try Natural Instead). However, the prescription stimulant drugs have the likelihood for abuse by adults, who may already have or have had problems with substance abuse. Strattera is also approved by the FDA for the treatment of adult ADHD and is often the drug of choice for adults.

Other treatment options that are typically advised for adult ADHD patients include:

  • Behavioral therapy to address low self-esteem issues
  • Stress management therapy to reduce anxiety and negative reactions to stress
  • Coaching to help the ADHD adult with strategies for organizing home/work environments, handling relationships and improving work performance
  • Family therapy to educate family members about ADHD and to enlist family support and understanding for the ADHD adult

A comprehensive treatment plan can work, but there is another choice that focuses on the cause, and not only the symptoms, of adult ADHD.

Adult ADHD – a Natural Solution

That’s a lot of information about adult ADHD, its symptoms and the effect it has on your life, as well as some ADHD treatment options, which of course include medications that have risky and dangerous side effects, for adults as well as for children. For a complete list of side effects, see side bar in related article, ADHD: Symptoms, Causes and Treatment With a Natural Approach.

But there is a safe and natural approach that does more than just control the symptoms of ADHD and help you learn how to live with it. This alternative doesn’t just treat ADHD symptoms – it locates the cause of ADHD and attempts to eliminate it so that you don’t experience ADHD symptoms at all!

When you get in touch with one of the sponsors of, you will speak to a health care provider who doesn’t believe that risky drugs and surgeries are the way to deal with the symptoms of any illness. They are trained specifically to look for causes of dis-ease in the body and to eliminate those causes so you no longer experience any symptoms.

Our sponsors are chiropractors, who believe that many illnesses and conditions are created when the spine becomes misaligned. This can happen as the result of a sports injury, a fall down the stairs or any type of accident or injury. Misalignments can even occur as a result of childbirth, when a baby’s neck and spine are pulled and twisted, causing possible trauma to the neck and head that result in spinal misalignment.

How Does Chiropractic Help?

Chiropractors address causes of disease by locating spinal misalignments and correcting them. You see, spinal misalignments cause interference in the nervous system, the major communication network between the brain and every part of your body. That interference often results in disease because the nerves, affected by the misalignment, are not able to carry out their communication function.

Chiropractors receive an advanced education that trains them to locate and correct spinal misalignments through a series of gentle, safe adjustments to the affected area of the spine. These adjustments realign the spine, freeing up the affected nerves to function properly and so that the body will heal, relieved of any symptoms caused by nerve interference.

Sounds great doesn’t it? A bit confusing too? We understand and that is why we invite you to call one of our sponsors to discuss your experience with ADHD, your concerns, what you’ve done to treat your symptoms and your willingness to try a different, all-natural alternative that allows your body to heal the cause of your ADHD. Then, make an appointment to go in and see the doctor for an examination and evaluation. Although we can’t make any promises, many adults and children with ADHD have experienced changed lives as a result of chiropractic care…and so can you.

  • Find a Chiropractor Ready to Help