Lifewatch: Adult ADHD

Reported by Kristy Ondo - email

Posted by Debra Worley - email

NEW YORK - Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a mental disorder usually associated with children.

But actually, the disorder affects millions of adults and can take a toll on daily activities like work.

"For 28 years of my life, I kind of considered myself lazy, procrastinator," said Brian Rice, an ADHD patient.

It wasn't until 2007 that Rice learned there was a reason for his behavior.

He is one of 9 million adults in the United States with adult ADHD.  Most, like Rice was, are undiagnosed and untreated.

"Individuals with adult ADHD are twice as likely to use substances, twice as likely to smoke cigarettes, more likely to be unemployed or underemployed, also more likely to be divorced or separated," said Psychiatrist Dr. Len Adler.

Now, a recent international study by the World Health Organization found that untreated adults with the disorder are less productive at work.)

"On the average, ADHD adults had 22 days of time out of role per year. The out of role corresponds to time that you are not doing your responsibilities," said Adler.

"There's some days I feel like I work maybe 8 days out of the month, you know.  There's a lot of things that go into that," said Rice.

Rice works from home designing websites, and recently started working with an ADHD coach who has given him advice that's changing the way he works.

"I got rid of the post-it notes and I have a big white board. That kind of helps me to keep everything organized," said Rice.

The advice is helping him become more productive and confident so he can function in spite of his diagnosis.

If you want to find out if you have Adult ADHD, you can take an online quiz here.

What is Adult ADHD and how can it be treated?

Adults with ADD / ADHD struggle daily with self-regulation: regulating their attention, regulating their impulses in talking and action, and regulating their emotions. If you have trouble staying focused, getting organized, starting and completing your work, managing your time and money, and remembering all the little things in your daily life, you may very well be one of these people.

The chaos of living with unrecognized and untreated ADD / ADHD can take its toll: never-ending to-do lists, the stress of missed deadlines and forgotten appointments, aggravated friends and family members who just don't understand why you can't pull it together and self-recrimination over your lack of accomplishments.

The good news: life doesn't have to be this way. Treatment can go a long way toward getting ADD / ADHD in check. But before you can manage the problem, you have to be able to identify it, starting with a thorough understanding of what ADD / ADHD looks like in adults.

For more on treatment, plus a fact and fiction section on Adult ADHD, go here.