It’s generally agreed that adult ADHD (attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder) does not get as much treatment as it should, which is unfortunate. In many people with childhood ADHD, the condition will continue into adulthood, and some people didn’t get diagnosed as children. This can lead to challenging times for the adult who may face a plethora of symptoms without understanding their cause, and in the main may have trouble in work and relationships, due to a condition that is often controllable. Once recognized, different types of adult ADHD treatment exist, including management through medication, cognitive behavioral therapy and other forms of therapy.
Medications in adult ADHD treatment are primarily the same as those to treat childhood ADHD. They include some stimulants like methylphenidate (Ritalin&;) and d-amphetamine (Adderal®). In children these medications have an opposite effect and do not prove stimulating, and some adults may find they are more difficult to take and result in feeling “sped up.” A solution to this issue is to use medications that don’t contain a stimulant like Strattera® (atomoxetine). Alternately, sometimes people are prescribed drugs normally used as antidepressants, which have similar action to atomoxetine. These include Wellbutrin®, Effexor® and Pamelor®.
It’s good news that adult ADHD treatment utilizing medication is typically fairly successful. There are some issues that can make it difficult. For severe cases, patients may have a tough time with drug compliance because they may easily forget to take their medication. Having a system in place to help with this may be required.
Not many people reach adulthood with untreated ADHD without evolving coping behaviors that may not be in their best interest or habits that can make living life from a social and work perspective more challenging. No matter what medications are tried, some form of therapy is usually recommended. This could include cognitive behavioral therapy, which may help deal with negative thoughts and their impact on behavior, or other therapies like attachment and commitment therapy, which may help the individual respond differently to pressure situations at work or home than they have in the past. Some people may need to relearn how to cope with things or how to create strategies for more successful living too, and this could be a part of therapy.
Another aspect that might require attention in adult ADHD treatment is the use of substances. Those who have been undiagnosed may have or may be using alcohol or drugs as a way to self-medicate. It doesn’t escape the notice of an adult that they can’t seem to do what everyone else is doing, and if they’ve had this condition from childhood, it can be a source of deep pain. Some respond by “medicating,” which may have progressed to an addiction level. Substance abuse treatment is highly recommended, when needed, as a first step in addressing this disorder. Other conditions like obsessive-compulsive disorder or depression might also require treatment.