Adult ADHD management: How to cope with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder

Aattention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder or ADHD may affect adults too. Know effective ways to manage adult ADHD.
View All Images Woman finding it hard to concentrate.
Learn how to manage the symptoms of ADHD. Image courtesy: Freepik
Natalia Ningthoujam Published: 15 Feb 2024, 06:00 pm IST
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A person with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) lacks the ability to pay attention, stay focussed, is overly active and may act impulsively. It is common to think ADHD affects mostly children, but adult ADHD is a reality. It may disrupt daily life and growth by affecting work performance and personal relationships. While there are medications to manage the condition, you can do more to manage adult ADHD.

What is attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder?

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder or ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder. It is exhibited through chronic inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity, profoundly disrupting daily life and growth, says mental health and behavioural science expert Dr Rahul Chandhok. Often initiated in childhood and persisting into adulthood, it presents challenges in task organisation, attention maintenance, impulse control, and behaviour regulation.

Woman finding it hard to concentrate at work
There are millions of adults with ADHD. Image courtesy: Freepik

A 2021 study published in the Journal of Global Health found that the prevalence of persistent adult ADHD (with a childhood onset) was 2.58 percent, which means 139.84 million adults in the world are affected by it.

What are the symptoms of adult ADHD?

Some of the symptoms of adult ADHD are:

  • Challenges in concentration Impulsivity
  • Forgetfulness
  • Disorganisation
  • Frequent mood swings
  • Difficulty completing tasks.

Time management troubles, restlessness, and impulsive decision-making further characterise the condition.

What are the causes of ADHD?

ADHD’s origins are multifaceted, encompassing genetic predispositions, environmental influences and neurological differences.

  • Familial patterns suggest a strong genetic component.
  • Prenatal exposure to toxins, premature birth, low birth weight, and brain injuries are potential environmental contributors.
  • Neurologically, disparities in dopamine and norepinephrine pathways are implicated.

How does ADHD affect adults?

In adulthood, ADHD presents persistent hurdles in organisation, time management, job retention, and overall productivity, impacting various facets of life. Also, they may grapple with low self-esteem, impulsivity, mood fluctuations, and substance abuse issues, says Dr Chandhok. These challenges often translate into difficulties in maintaining relationships and navigating professional environments.

Can adult ADHD be managed without medications?

While medications play a crucial role in managing moderate to severe adult ADHD symptoms, non-medication strategies like therapy, lifestyle adjustments, and organizational techniques are also invaluable, says the expert. Collaborating with doctor helps develop personalised treatment plans that may integrate medication with behavioural interventions.

Woman having a headache
Self-care is important to manage adult ADHD. Image courtesy: Freepik

What are the ways to manage adult ADHD?

Managing adult ADHD involves a combination of strategies. Here are some of them:

1. Medication

Prescription medications like stimulants or non-stimulants can help manage symptoms. They can improve focus, impulse control, and overall functioning.

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2. Therapy

Cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) can help adults develop coping mechanisms. It can also help them in organisational skills, says the expert.

3. Exercise

Regular physical activity can not only play a major role in maintaining healthy weight, but also help in reducing hyperactivity. Exercising is good to improve mood, and enhance concentration too.

4. Healthy diet

Eating a balanced diet rich in nutrients, especially omega-3 fatty acids, can support brain health. This way, it can alleviate symptoms of ADHD.

5. Routine and structure

Establishing consistent routines and schedules can help adults with ADHD manage time effectively. This will help to reduce impulsivity.

6. Break down tasks

Breaking down tasks into smaller steps and manageable chunks can be of great help to people with ADHD. This can make the tasks less overwhelming and easier to complete.

7. Use of timers and reminders

Timers are not just for athletes. Setting timers and using reminders can help adults with ADHD to stay on track and manage time more effectively.

8. Limit distractions

Create a clutter-free environment and minimise distractions at home and office. This can improve focus and productivity.

9. Seek support

Having supportive friends, family members is essential. Even support groups can provide encouragement, understanding, and practical assistance.

10. Self-care

Give importance to self-care activities such as adequate sleep, stress management, and relaxation techniques. These activities can help reduce ADHD symptoms and improve overall well-being.

Follow these tips to optimise ADHD symptom management, enhance functioning, and empower you to navigate daily life effectively.

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About the Author

Natalia Ningthoujam has written on various subjects - from music to films and fashion to lifestyle - as a journalist in her career that started in 2010. After getting stories from the crime scene, police headquarters, and conducting interviews with celebrities, she is now writing on health and wellness which has become her focus area. ...Read More

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