Christian Counselor Seattle
Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder is one of the most diagnosed mental disorders in children. In the United States, more than five million children between the ages of four and seventeen years old have been diagnosed with ADHD, with boys diagnosed at more than twice the rate of girls. However, many adults miss being diagnosed as children and are surprised when their doctor or counselor suggests that they, too, might have ADHD.It’s a common misconception that ADHD is found only among children. Further, while it was once thought that children would outgrow the behaviors that led to their ADHD diagnosis, which is no longer considered to be an absolute fact. Children diagnosed with ADHD may outgrow some of their symptoms while they simply learn to cope with others.
As many as 65% of children diagnosed with ADHD continue to have ADHD as adults. Additionally, while researchers continue to determine causes for ADHD, your risk for ADHD will be 75-90% higher if you have at least one family member with ADHD. It’s common for one or both parents to discover they have ADHD only after their child or children have been diagnosed, particularly if the parent has a different form of ADHD than one or more of their children.
Adults with ADHD may be extremely bright and not live or work up to their maximum potential. They likely have experienced various levels of success in managing their ADHD symptoms because those symptoms were labeled as character traits, perhaps character flaws, rather than as symptoms of a mental disorder for which they could receive treatment.
They have their own ways of doing things and require their own set of motivational strategies. The challenge for adults with ADHD is two-fold: acquiring a full toolbox of tips and tricks that enable them to manage their ADHD symptoms so that they will be fully equipped to perform in necessary and appropriate ways.
What are the symptoms of ADHD?
The name Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder may cause more confusion than clarity. Adults with ADHD may not have an attention deficit, but rather they may have a surplus of attention. They follow their attention wherever it leads them, for example, out the office window, down the stairs to their car where they take a long and winding drive through a scenic corridor.
Their imagination carries them on attractive and exciting adventures depicted in car commercials while the far less exciting report their boss expects to receive by day’s end goes unfinished.
Another misconception about ADHD is that those who have it always present with hyperactivity. The American Psychiatric Association’s “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders” (DSM) includes three variations of ADHD: primarily inattentive; mostly hyperactive and impulsive; and a combined type that includes inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity.
The variations in ADHD presentation can make it difficult to diagnose, particularly among women who most typically have the inattentive ADHD variation. Primarily inattentive ADHD often goes undiagnosed until self-management skills take on an increasingly significant role, sometimes in late elementary or middle school.
In girls and women, it may be missed entirely, either because inattentive ADHD doesn’t carry the same behavior problems associated with hyperactivity or because females may be more likely to be labeled, correctly or not, as having low self-esteem or depression and anxiety.
While adults with ADHD can hyperfocus for inordinately long periods when they find the subject at hand interesting, they will struggle to focus their attention when they feel disinterested. This can cause problems at work and in relationships. An adult with ADHD might be easily distracted or overwhelmed, restless, talkative, forgetful, disorganized, a poor listener, or make careless mistakes.
Any one or two adjectives might describe anyone, however, a persistent pattern of behavior that includes several symptoms can lead to a diagnosis, which is only necessary when the behavior patterns become problematic.
For example, an adult with primarily inattentive ADHD who consistently forgets to do or turn in work assignments and an adult with primarily hyperactive ADHD who constantly talks out of turn in meetings could both be in danger of losing their jobs.
How do I know if I have ADHD?
There is no simple test to diagnose ADHD. Instead, a diagnosis is made in conversation with your physician or therapist as you talk together through the checklist of symptoms included in the DSM. As necessary, your spouse, parents, or supervisor could be included in the conversation or provided with a symptoms checklist.
A medical examination, including vision and hearing tests, should be done to rule out other physical causes for behaviors. An adult who “often” presents with five or more behaviors on the DSM list likely has ADHD.
What treatment will I receive for adult ADHD?
ADHD is most often treated with a combination of medication and therapy. Your therapist can help you learn more effective ways of thinking through your daily issues and acting in ways that help you avoid becoming overwhelmed while you become more productive. The more you educate yourself about your ADHD diagnosis, the more options you will have on hand to experiment with, through trial-and-error, as you attempt to determine what helps you feel safe and motivated.
Because the ADHD brain thrives on novelty, what works today may or may not work tomorrow. Keep up the conversations with your doctor and therapist and keep trying new approaches to your ADHD-related issues to discover what works best for you.
Hope for adults with ADHD
If you have struggled against feelings of disorganization and overwhelm, endured ongoing issues at work or home, with finances, or in relationships, and if your self-esteem has plummeted as a result, receiving an adult ADHD diagnosis might have you breathing a sigh of relief. Finally, you’re on your way to answers for the persistent problems you’ve faced throughout your life. Finally, help is available.
Also, take heart that God created you and God loves you. God is not at all surprised by your ADHD diagnosis. Along with the Psalmist, you can praise God for the wonderfully unique human being God made you to be.
For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made…Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. – Psalm 139:13-14a, 16
God planned all the days of your life and God has a special purpose for your life. God’s plan for you includes your abundant energy, imagination, creativity, and strength. Everyone faces challenges in life, and no doubt your adult ADHD symptoms will occasionally create challenges.
Take some deep, calming breaths, and keep going. Learn as much as you can and find a team of supportive people, including your doctor, counselor, and safe and understanding friends, to walk alongside you.Finally, remember to pray. Add a variety of prayer approaches to your ADHD-management toolbox. For example, memorize and pray short verses of scripture. Choose two short prayer phrases and tie them to your breathing: inhale “God is here” and exhale “I am safe.” Or coordinate a short prayer with a quiet fidget you can do under your desk (tapping your toes or touching your fingertips).
Teaching yourself to pray in stressful situations will help you keep in mind that God is with you in every situation, and it can help you to, as Paul tells the Colossians, “Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things” (Colossians 3:2).
Christian Counseling for Adults with ADHD
If you’re looking for additional support for your ADHD, feel free to contact me or one of the other counselors in the online counselor directory. We would be happy to meet with you to discuss practical techniques for ADHD management from a Christian perspective.
“Sharp Objects”, Courtesy of Ashim D’Silva, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Home Office”, Courtesy of Jeff Sheldon, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Daisy”, Courtesy of Abyan Athif, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Red Heart”, Courtesy of Eli Pluma, Unsplash.com, CC0 License
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