ADHD in an adult woman

ADHD in an adult woman



Monday, June 30, 2014

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YOU may have difficulty focusing at work, remembering content or important deadlines, or simply being constantly irritated to the point of outbursts of anger. You think you’re miserable or just a slow learner, but truth is, you may be suffering from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

It is a common diagnosis in children, but little known is the fact that the symptoms can carry over into adulthood. For some persons, it is not until they have reached adulthood and have created an independent way of living that they receive a diagnosis.

Interestingly, many adults with ADHD do not know they have the condition, but they know that everyday tasks can be challenging. Adults with the condition may find it difficult to prioritise, and end up missing deadlines.

Also, they may have difficulty controlling impulses which lead to impatience, mood swings and uncontrolled anger. Shelly, now in her mid-030s, first received a diagnosis for ADHD in 2007 though she openly admits to being easily distracted as a child, as well as being diagnosed with depression and anxiety prior to hearing about ADHD.

For her, the diagnosis changed the pace of her life as she hides her true self to be accepted by society. "When I received the diagnosis it was an eye-opener and to be honest it was a little embarrassing.

Whatever hiccups I have with ADHD, I hide it; my true self is not what persons know and I do not have a lot of friends," she said. Moreover, she struggles with trusting persons and said she feels more comfortable with strangers as it is unlikely that they will play the hypocrite or mistreat her, as they don’t know her personally.

On top of that Shelly said her family is somewhat dysfunctional so she has opted not to tell them about her condition. "I don’t think they would understand, so they don’t know. They are not unified or operate in harmony, so it wouldn’t mean much to them," Shelly said.

But despite having to live with ADHD in her adult life, she maintains that it does not affect her ability to do her work. "I am employed and though the symptoms may step in, the solution is to encourage myself, motivate myself and tell myself that I can do this; focus on one thing at a time and get the work done," Shelly said.

According to Head of Psychiatry at the University of the West Indies, Professor Wendel Abel, ADHD is a common disorder that occurs in children and is characterised by hyperactivity and impulsiveness.

Dr Abel said about 60 per cent of children with the disorder continue with the condition into adulthood, which accounts for five per cent of the population.

In other words, one in every 20 adults may have ADHD. He added that adults with the disorder usually have a history in childhood where they were hyperactive, had difficulty in attention or focusing, remembering information, concentrating, managing tasks and completing tasks within time limits.

But while the diagnosis of ADHD is usually given from childhood, Dr Abel said it was not uncommon for the diagnosis to be missed in children. "If the condition is not severe, it is likely that it will not be noticed.

In the past ADHD was underdiagnosed and it is probably within the last 20 years that we started to understand the disorder," he said. Shelly says she often gets herself in trouble at work for working off her impulses — another symptom — and saying whatever comes to her mind.

When asked about some of the ways the behavioural disorder has affected her life, she said in order to obtain educational qualification, she had to sit her Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) exams one each year. "When I was doing CXC I had to do them moderately.

So I had to say to myself, ‘This year I’m doing English and I’ll focus on English alone; and the next year mathematics, the following year accounts, until I got all my subjects. "Many individuals believe I have gone to university and hold a degree because of my professionalism. They don’t know I’m struggling with this issue.

To them all seems well, but all is seriously not well." Where treatment is concerned, Shelly said it is costly to get help for the condition and she cannot afford to do so. She said if subsidiaries like the National Health Fund covered treatment for cases like hers, dealing with it would be easier.

"I’m appealing to the health sector for persons with behavioural issues to get help. There are more persons out there with the condition but can’t afford the care," Shelly said.

Treatment for adults with ADHD is similar to what is administered to children. These include psychological counselling, stimulant drugs such as antidepressants and treatment for any other mental health conditions that occur with adult ADHD.

Shelly said of the symptoms associated with the condition she identifies with having low self-esteem, impulsiveness, low frustration tolerance, anxiety, procrastination, difficulty concentrating when reading, mood swings and depression.

The exact cause of ADHD is unknown, but heredity, environmental factors and problems with the central nervous system are factors that contribute to the development of ADHD. If you suspect that you may have ADHD, a psychiatrist, physician or neurologist can diagnose and prescribe medication for the condition.

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