ADHD in adults: The struggle is real

For many years, Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) was considered to be a childhood disease. Because symptoms appear to diminish over time, when, in fact, adults have developed coping mechanisms to overcome the challenges they face at work and home. The coping mechanisms they developed as children have allowed them to overcome many of life’s hurdles.

Dr. Andrew Cutler, Meridien Research’s Chief Medical Officer explained, “Adults struggle with this mental illness, because the environment, whether it is school or work, is suited for someone without ADHD. The expectations to perform have a huge impact on self-esteem, because for years someone with ADHD will wonder why they can’t live up to these expectations.” Adults with ADHD have a greater incidence of anxiety, depression and substance abuse than the general population.

As children, the symptoms of hyperactivity and disruptive behavior during class went undiagnosed, due to a lack of school resources or general knowledge about the disorder. Even though their hyperactivity has greatly lessened, adults living with ADHD experience the many of the same symptoms:

  • Poor short term memory,
  • Lack of focus on tasks, and

These may lead to academic failure, poor work performance, and job loss. Finding a way to manage and regulate these symptoms becomes the key to living a healthy and productive life.

Treatment for Adults

Through years of continued research, diagnosis of adults with ADHD has increased with better symptom rating scales, diagnostic interviews, and public awareness campaigns. Some adults become aware of their disorder when their children are diagnosed through their school or pediatrician. After years of struggling against the current, these adults can find relief through medication or behavioral therapy.

The common first-line of treatments continue to be stimulants, such as methylphenidate and amphetamines. A majority of adults with ADHD respond to these interventions. For those who don’t respond to stimulants, nonstimulant medications, such as atomoxetine and bupropion, may work for them. For people experiencing severe or debilitating side-effects to medication, psychological counseling is a good therapeutic alternative. These therapies may help change negative mental and behavioral patterns into positive ones.

Finding Acceptance

For some, ADHD allows them to see the world in a very different way, to see opportunities and overcome obstacles. “The stigma of mental illness makes people think that they are not intelligent,” said Dr. Cutler. “Yet, Albert Einstein had ADHD, and no one would argue about his intelligence. There are many successful and smart people with ADHD. Entrepreneurs like Paul Orfalea and David Neeleman have ADHD. Also, ADHD is 3 to 5 times higher in professional athletes. So, we see that environment and expectations have a huge role in their lives.” For adults with ADHD, it’s not too late to learn about their different way of thinking and how they can find acceptance.

Living with adult ADHD can be challenging, because it interferes with work and family. Meridien Research is dedicated to helping patients with ADHD and Dr. Andrew Cutler has been at the forefront of ADHD research for over three decades. He has written extensively on this illness, as a researcher and educator, and continues to appear at conferences around the world. If you or someone you love are dealing with ADHD, please contact Meridien Research for information on our latest research studies.