“I had undiagnosed dyslexia and ADHD (this was later confirmed by a psychiatrist when I was in my thirties). I also had chronically low self-esteem and I didn’t feel comfortable in my own skin. I was looking for something to fix me because I didn’t feel OK inside.” –Simon M., HeroesInRecovery.com
ADHD is a common learning disability. It is often seen as a childhood problem, but that misunderstanding of the disease is quickly changing. Many adults struggle with ADHD and its associated problems. NPR.org shares that study that “suggests that the rate of ADHD among adults may be significantly higher than previously thought. The authors found a prevalence of 8.2 percent, which is almost double the 4.4 percent rate reported in a 2006 study.”1
What Does Adult ADHD Look Like?
There are three types of ADHD. These include hyperactive-impulsive, inattentive, and combined type. The first makes it hard to sit still or fully develop plans before acting. The second involves trouble focusing or paying attention. Individuals with ADHD may experience any or all symptoms of the disorder at any given time. Experience of the disorder can change as you grow older or find yourself in different environments or situations.
The National Institute of Mental Health3 explains, “ADHD symptoms can change over time as a person ages. In young children with ADHD, hyperactivity-impulsivity is the most predominant symptom…In adolescence, hyperactivity seems to lessen and may show more often as feelings of restlessness or fidgeting, but inattention and impulsivity may remain. Many adolescents with ADHD also struggle with relationships and antisocial behaviors. Inattention, restlessness, and impulsivity tend to persist into adulthood.”
ADHD looks different in adults than in children. It varies from person to person and over time. Co-occurring mental health or substance use issues can change how ADHD expresses itself and how and what you experience. Your diagnosis will involve talking with a mental health professional about your unique symptoms.
How Does Adult ADHD Affect Me?
Adult ADHD can affect your performance at work. It can result in making mistakes, missing or forgetting important information, and having trouble following through or completing tasks. ADHD can affect how you interact and connect with friends and loved ones. It can cause you to say inappropriate things or regularly interrupt people during conversations.
ADHD changes how you experience life. You may grow bored easily. You may wonder why you think and act like you do. ADHD can cause you to become frustrated with yourself or the world around you. It can begin to disrupt your mental health or to exacerbate other existing mental health issues. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA)2 shares, “Adults with ADHD are likely to have an anxiety disorder, depression, bipolar disorder, or other comorbid psychiatric disorder. (The term ‘comorbid’ refers to a condition that exists with another.) About 50 percent of adults with ADHD also suffer from an anxiety disorder.”
If you have ADHD and another mental health issue, you are not alone. You have options for support and treatment. However few people reach out for this treatment. ADAA continues, “Less than 20 percent of adults with ADHD have been diagnosed or treated, and only about one-quarter of those adults seek help.” This lack of treatment and help often leads to co-occurring substance abuse issues.
You may self-medicate mental health symptoms. You may seek to alleviate the boredom or frustrating ADHD causes. You are not alone in doing so, and you don’t have to be alone in finding a better way. Drugs and alcohol seem to promise quick solutions. However they ultimately make mental health worse. Real hope and comprehensive healing comes from individualized addiction treatment.
Addressing ADHD, Addiction, and Mental Health in Adults
You can heal from addiction. You can find a better way to manage mental health. Choose integrated treatment. Black Bear Lodge offers care that addresses co-occurring mental health, physical health, and addiction issues. We provide in-depth assessments coupled with comprehensive care for body, mind, and spirit. Call us today to learn more about our programs. You can learn to manage ADHD and mental health without drugs or alcohol. You can live a healthy, balanced, and drug-free life.
1 Hersher, Rebecca. “Do You Zone Out? Procrastinate? Might Be Adult ADHD.” NPR.org. 5 Apr. 2017. Accessed 21 Jul. 2017.
2 Anxiety and Depression Association of America. “Adult ADHD.” Accessed 21 Jul. 2017.
3 National Institute of Mental Health. “Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.” Jul. 2016. Accessed 21 Jul. 2017.