Category: Q&A

“How can I be detail-oriented with ADHD?”

People with ADHD can be very detail oriented!

Much of our detail skill comes from one of two drivers:

  1. Hyperfocus. When people with ADHD go into hyperfocus, we pay deep attention to whatever we’re doing, whether that’s computer programming, house painting, or cooking a dinner for twelve. We might not notice that time is passing (or that the phone is ringing, or anything else) but by damn, we’re paying attention to our task. We don’t usually control when hyperfocus hits, but when it does, it hits hard.
  2. Compensation. After we get yelled at enough times by bosses who keep finding errors in our work, we can get really obsessive about QA. After we get fired enough times by clients whose deadlines we keep missing, we can get obsessive about timelines. After we go nuts for years of losing our keys, we learn how to put our keys in the same place every time we get to work and every time we get home.

In some cases, we end up looking far more organized than regular folks, who shake their heads in disbelief when we tell them we have ADHD 🙂 It’s fun to impress the regular folks! (As long as we don’t get overconfident…)

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I wrote this post in reply to a question on Quora. 

See here for more answers:
https://www.quora.com/How-can-I-be-detailed-oriented-with-ADHD

“Do adults with ADHD get bored easily?”

Do adults with ADHD get bored easily? Yes and No, depending 🙂

Compared to other adults, adults with ADHD will get bored easily when they’re stuck in situations like these:

  • regimented work (e.g., assembly lines where the worker can’t control pace, and the pace is slow)
  • routine desk work (e.g., sorting and analyzing tons of similar data sets)
  • unappealing passive activities (e.g., sitting through a non-captivating lecture or movie)
  • unappealing social activities (e.g., talking with people at a dinner part or cocktail party with people you don’t find interesting)

That said, many adults with ADHD don’t get bored often because they hate boredom so much that they’ll do anything to avoid situations that might make them bored!

Adults with ADHD don’t pursue careers with a lot of regimented work or routine desk work. Or if they do pursue those careers, they get fired or otherwise drop out. (I used to be an engineer. It nearly killed me.)

Adults with ADHD don’t go to lectures unless they know 1,000% that they’re going to enjoy it. Otherwise, they do something else. If an adult with ADHD is at a movie and doesn’t like it, they get up and go to a different movie. Or they fiddle with their phones (despite all the nasty comments from people behind them who hate the bright screen). Adults with ADHD avoid boring parties or fail to follow the social rules that drive boring conversations. Or they find a dog to play with. Or a magazine to read in the corner.

So, to re-answer the question in a broader way:

  1. Adults with ADHD and freedom are rarely bored.
  2. Adults with ADHD and no freedom are often bored and in pain.

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I wrote this post in reply to a question on Quora. 
See here for more answers:
https://www.quora.com/Do-adults-with-ADHD-get-bored-easily

“Do most people grow out of ADHD, or do they just learn to hide it better?”

ADHD is a lifetime condition — it’s how our brains are wired, so we can’t outgrow it like, say, acne or raging teenage hormones 🙂

Over time, though, we can do at least two things to make ADHD less of a problem and more of a joyful personality trait:

(1) we learn skills to cope with it (e.g., we get in the habit of setting alarms to let us know when it’s time to get up from our desk and head to the car to drive to our appointments, instead of just writing appointment times on the calendar)

(2) we learn how to choose jobs and environments and relationships where our ADHD are a good fit (e.g., active jobs that let us move around during the day) and not a tragic misfit (e.g. desk jobs with tedious, unchanging solo work,which is bad for most of us).

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I wrote this post in reply to a question on Quora. 
See here for more answers: 
https://www.quora.com/Do-most-people-grow-out-of-ADHD-or-do-they-just-learn-to-hide-it-better

“For those with ADHD, what caused the ‘switch or change’ when life became better?”

I was diagnosed at 28 with ADHD and Generalized Anxiety Disorder after I sought psychiatric help for a near meltdown at my 9–5 engineering job (which was more like a 9:30 to 6, seven days a week job because I was so inefficient).

Shortly thereafter, my kindhearted bosses offered me a voluntary layoff spot because they knew I wasn’t happy. At the same moment — almost my coincidence — my parents offered me money to take a year off because they knew I wasn’t happy.

  • I took the layoff.
  • I started to understand that ADHD and GAD were my bugbears — I wasn’t just an unexplainable and irresponsible f-up.
  • I started meds for both ADHD and GAD.
  • And I started looking for work that was meaningful to me and that I could do as a self-employed person in charge of my own schedule.

Life quit being terrible. Life started to get better.

In the 23 years since my diagnoses, life has still been full of struggles as well as successes. But they have been struggles and successes unencumbered by the drag of undiagnosed and unmanaged ADHD.

I still have ADHD and it still has many mysteries. ADHD is still my companion, but now I know its name and we do our best to be friends.

We are sometimes awkward dance partners but we are no longer secret enemies.

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I wrote this post in reply to a question on Quora. 
See here for more answers: 
https://www.quora.com/For-those-with-ADHD-what-caused-the-switch-or-change-when-life-became-better

“What’s been the most difficult part of the holiday season when you struggle with ADHD?”

The irregular schedule and rhythms can throw me off.

If I promise to get something done by January 6, I think I’ve got two weeks from December 23 to get it done. But then the holiday rhythms and activities hit and suddenly it’s January 2, my work is nearly due, and where the heck did the last ten days go?!

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I wrote this post in reply to a question on Quora. 

See here for more answers:
https://www.quora.com/In-your-experience-what-has-been-the-most-difficult-part-of-the-holiday-season-when-you-struggle-with-ADHD

“Is medication the best treatment for ADHD/ADD?”

Short answer: Medication can be great for ADHD, but it’s only one part of the solution. Some people do fine without medication!

Long answer:

ADHD treatment uses multiple tools. Medication is one of the biggest tools in the toolbox, but it’s not the only tool, and we shouldn’t think of medication as a “standalone” treatment.

The best ADHD treatments use some combination of:

  • medication
  • coaching
  • therapy (multiple types)
  • diet
  • exercise
  • self-education

Each tool supports our ADHD brains in a different way.

Few people with ADHD use all of the tools. Some of us treat ADHD with just medication and a little bit of coaching. Others treat ADHD with just self-education.

Important note: we manage ADHD by working on our INSIDES and also our OUTSIDES.

Our insides include our biochemistry and thought patterns. ADHD “treatment” mostly focuses on our insides.

Our outsides include small things like our physical environment. We use alarm clocks, sticky notes, good lighting, shelves, organizing systems, project management software, etc. to help us manage ADHD.

Our outsides also include big things like career choices and relationships. We choose careers that are well-suited for ADHD work (e.g., bartender instead of bookkeeper, entrepreneur instead of engineer). We choose relationships with people who “get us,” and who engage mostly with the things we do best!

Recap: Medication can be great for ADHD, but it’s only one part of the solution. Some people do fine without medication!

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I wrote this post in reply to a question on Quora. 

See here for more answers:
https://www.quora.com/Is-medication-the-best-treatment-for-ADHD-ADD

“Can an adult un-diagnosed as a child be tested and benefit from counseling and other therapies?”

Yes, 100%

An adult will get just as many benefits from counseling and other therapies (primarily medication) as a child would.

Note that an ADHD diagnosis in adulthood usually comes with a shocking assortment of emotions as the adult suddenly realizes how ADHD played an unknown role in their childhood and earlier adulthood.

Some emotions are friendly: like relief in discovering that they aren’t and weren’t lazy or stupid.

Some are tough: like anger at parents and teachers who may have disciplined or guided them in ways that were unproductive.

Some are complicated: like wondering about whether to change a career that they’d been committed to for years (maybe decades) but that never felt “right” for them.

It’s big work to negotiate these emotions. A newly diagnosed adult may have more counseling challenges than a child, because the adult has two things to reckon with: (1) ADHD in the present and (2) ADHD in the past.

Here’s a good intro article for on next steps for an adult just diagnosed with ADHD. https://www.additudemag.com/forums/topic/just-been-diagnosed-is-addictiveness-a-factor/

————I wrote this post in reply to a question on Quora.

See here for more answers: 
https://www.quora.com/Can-an-adult-who-had-not-received-an-ADD-ADHD-diagnosis-as-a-child-be-tested-for-this-in-adulthood-and-benefit-from-counseling-and-other-therapies

“How many symptoms of ADHD must you have shown as a child to get diagnosed an adult?”

None, actually! An adult ADHD diagnosis depends entirely on the symptoms shown as an adult. The current (DSM-V) criteria for adult ADHD state that an adult must display five of the symptoms in their table (children must display six of the symptoms).

Here’s a screen-capped article with the table of symptoms and more info about the diagnosis:

https://adhd-institute.com/assessment-diagnosis/diagnosis/dsm-5/

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I wrote this post in reply to a question on Quora. See here for more answers:
https://www.quora.com/How-many-symptoms-of-ADHD-must-you-have-shown-as-a-child-to-get-diagnosed-an-adult

“As an adult with ADHD, do you still have the hyperactivity aspect?”

As an adult, my occasional hyperactivity shows up as things like:

  1. fidgeting (e.g., bouncing my knee or feet, tapping my fingers on the table, wriggling in my seat)
  2. hyperverbalism (e.g., talking lots, fast, and loud without interruption; pressured speech)
  3. speedy movement (e.g., striding briskly or almost running down the hall in a business setting where slow walking is customary)
  4. restlessness (e.g., inability to stay seated in a meeting, reluctance to go to the movies or a lecture where I’ll be expected to stay in one place (seated!) for a long time)
  5. jumpy or jerky actions (e.g., leaping out of a chair when someone knocks at the door, uncoordinated sorting of physical objects (e.g., books) that ends up with things knocked down or spilled)

Other adults (but not me) see hyperactivity show up (or get resolved) in things like:

  1. clenched jaws, tooth grinding, and clenched stomach muscles that can occur when adults with ADHD attempt to suppress hyperactivity impulses
  2. a high need for action-oriented sports (e.g., running, tennis, etc.)

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I wrote this post in reply to a question on Quora. See here for more answers: https://www.quora.com/As-an-adult-with-ADHD-do-you-still-have-the-hyperactivity-aspect

“What other disorders can untreated ADHD in adults lead to?”

ADHD does not lead to other disorders, but other co-existing disorders can become worse if ADHD is untreated (and can be prevented or remedied if ADHD is treated).

In an article I’ll quote below, ADDitude magazine differentiates between “secondary conditions” (which abate or are prevented when ADHD is managed) and “co-morbid conditions” (which persist regardless of ADHD management.

Quote:

Half of All People with ADHD / ADD Also Have Another Condition

Doctors once considered ADHD a standalone disorder. They were wrong. We now know that 50 percent of people with ADHD also suffer from one or more additional condition, most commonly:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Oppositional defiant disorder (ODD)
  • Learning disabilities
  • Language disabilities
  • Fine and gross motor difficulties
  • Executive function difficulties
  • Tic disorders
  • Or another psychological or neurological problem

In some cases, these problems are “secondary” to ADHD — that is, they are triggered by the frustration of coping with symptoms of ADHD.

For example, a boy’s chronic lack of focus may trigger anxiety in school. Years of disapproval and negative feedback from family members may likewise cause a woman with undiagnosed ADHD to become depressed. Most of the time, secondary problems fade once the ADHD symptoms are brought under control.

When secondary problems don’t resolve with effective ADHD treatment, they are likely symptoms of a “comorbid” condition.

When It’s Not Just ADHD: Uncovering Comorbid Conditions

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I wrote this post in reply to a question on Quora. See here for more answers:  
https://www.quora.com/What-other-disorders-can-untreated-ADHD-in-adults-lead-to