Of the adult population that I generally work with, I see people in their fifties, sixties and later who are finally getting diagnosed with ADHD. How do adults come to suspect that they may have this disorder? In some cases, an adult may learn that a young family member has recently been diagnosed and wonder if they too may have it due to similar symptoms. Sometimes by mid-life a person may realize that they are not working to their potential, keeps jumping around in interests or jobs, or fails to be successful at their job. In other cases, retired persons are often overwhelmed by the sudden open-endedness of their time so much so that they question why they cannot focus or get anything done. If you would like to learn more, there are many sources of information about ADHD on the internet and in books. (An upcoming post will list resources: print and web.) A thorough evaluation by a qualified doctor (psychiatrist, family doctor or ADHD specialist) should include a comprehensive assessment: ADHD symptom questionnaire, medical history, educational history, and family history.
What happens after the diagnosis? For many, getting the diagnosis is a relief as it explains a lifetime of struggles with learning, work or relationships. Symptoms are easier to understand in light of the diagnosis and a treatment plan can be put together. Research shows that medications can help tremendously, though finding the right medication and dosage might be challenging. There is evidence that special diets can reduce the severity of symptoms. A person with ADHD can learn strategies and skills to effectively manage lifelong challenges of disorganization. The combination of a diagnosis and management plan means that persons with ADHD can truly get their lives back. Look for an upcoming post on ADHD organizing strategies/tips/ideas.