In the United States, more than 6.1 million children have been diagnosed with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, according to the CDC. The National Institute of Mental Health also reports that 4.4% of adults between the ages of 18 and 44 are living with ADHD. Many more adults and children have ADHD symptoms but no formal diagnosis. If you don’t live with ADD/ADHD, it’s difficult to understand how it can affect a person’s daily life. Keep reading to learn more about what to do when ADHD coping skills aren’t enough to control this disorder.
Living With ADHD
When figuring out how to live with ADD and ADHD, considering various treatment options available is a critical part of the process. Some of the most prevalent options available through facilities like FHE Health include prescription medications, talk therapy, counseling or education on the condition.
These accounts of how treatment of ADD and ADHD helped improve individuals’ quality of life support the need to seek professional help when living with these mental health conditions.
An Overview of ADD/ADHD
The term “ADD” is outdated and no longer used by medical professionals. Rather than using one term for people with hyperactivity and another term for people without, doctors now use the term ADHD for everyone with a certain set of symptoms. ADHD is then further classified as the inattentive type, the hyperactive-impulsive type or the combination type. The day-to-day issues and required ADHD coping skills for someone with one type are different than they are for another type.
The most common day-to-day issues of inattentive ADHD are associated with an inability to pay attention. Someone with this form of ADHD may have difficulty paying attention to details, trouble concentrating on tasks and difficulty following instructions. People with inattentive ADHD may also be disorganized and easily distracted.
Children with inattentive ADHD may lose important school papers or forget they have homework assignments. When they do their homework, they may have trouble focusing. Many children with inattentive ADHD struggle to get good grades on tests because they have difficulty focusing on the test questions.
Adults with inattentive ADHD often have trouble keeping their work papers organized and may get in trouble at work for having messy desks or disorganized files. Even when adults try to develop ADHD coping skills, they may not be able to control their symptoms enough to impress their supervisors, clients and colleagues, leading to write-ups or job losses.
People with hyperactive-impulsive ADHD are always on the move. They often fidget, squirm or have difficulty staying in their seats. Young people with this type of ADHD may run around when it’s not appropriate, such as when they should be eating dinner. Children and adults with hyperactive-impulsive ADHD tend to talk a lot, and they may have trouble listening to other people talk without interrupting.
The symptoms of hyperactive-impulsive ADHD also affect day-to-day life for kids and adults. Children with this type of ADHD may receive poor marks for their classroom behavior or get in trouble for getting out of their seats or talking out of turn in class. They may also be classified as disruptive.
For adults, hyperactive-impulsive ADHD can make it difficult to maintain positive relationships. Spouses, parents, children and friends may get upset when someone with ADHD interrupts them or doesn’t listen to what they say. At work, the symptoms of hyperactive-impulsive ADHD can make it difficult for a person to communicate effectively with colleagues or show clients they care about their needs.
People with combination ADHD have at least six symptoms of the inattentive type and six symptoms of the hyperactive-impulsive type, according to ADDitude magazine. Someone with this type of ADHD may fidget, talk excessively, leave their seat when they’re supposed to be sitting quietly or have trouble participating in leisure activities that don’t involve running around.
On the inattentive side, someone with combination ADHD may make careless mistakes, have difficulty paying attention, avoid tasks that require high levels of concentration or lose things needed to perform school or work activities. The symptoms of combination ADHD have the same effects as the symptoms of inattentive and hyperactive-impulsive ADHD. They make it difficult to maintain positive relationships and may interfere with a person’s ability to succeed at work or in school.
In addition to learning helpful ADHD coping skills, people with ADHD may participate in ongoing therapy or take prescription medications to control their symptoms. Behavior therapy is usually the first step in treating ADHD. A behavior therapist can help an individual learn valuable ADHD coping skills, which can help eliminate undesirable behaviors and strengthen positive behaviors. Many therapists focus on helping people learn how to live with ADHD so they have more control over their lives.
In some cases, a therapist may recommend that the parents of a child with ADHD go through behavior management training. Participating in this training helps parents learn effective strategies for modifying their child’s behavior. It can also help parents learn how to cope with ADHD symptoms without hurting their child’s self-esteem.
Medications may be used in combination with therapy to better control the symptoms of ADHD. Stimulants help people with ADHD improve their focus and ignore some of the distractions that can make it difficult to concentrate. Although stimulants work well for many people, they can also have some undesirable side effects. In that case, a doctor may prescribe non-stimulant medications. These medications improve concentration and help people with ADHD control their impulsive behaviors.
The Efficacy of ADHD and ADD Treatments
>A young man, 19-year-old Askar Keen, shared his success story of improving his life with treatment for ADHD in The Guardian. When speaking about how ADHD affected him prior to treatment, Keen says, “I could be extremely anxious, prone to massive bouts of low mood. Making friends and keeping friends was extremely difficult.”
Keen’s story has a difficult beginning, including being asked to leave school at the age of 17, which prompted him to attempt suicide. Receiving a diagnosis of ADHD and beginning his medication has allowed him to put his life back together and pursue higher education. When he started his medications in February 2017, Keen says it was like “someone had flicked a switch.” He was suddenly able to get his grades back on track and is now working towards attending university.
For other young adults and adults, choosing to try a combination of treatments is the most effective way to manage ADHD and ADD. For 27-year-old Khaliah Shaw, managing her ADHD means taking medication during the week so she can focus, but not on weekends. She also participates in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Says Shaw of her commitment to continuing treatment, “I knew it was a lifelong disorder that would need medication indefinitely.”
Erin Delaney March told CNN in 2018 that she self-regulates her medication for ADHD and that it helps her focus in school. She received her diagnosis at the young age of 8 and at 21, was taking medication some of the time to support her studies. She said, “I still take my medication. I usually take it Monday through Thursday, because that’s when I’ll have my (college) classes, and then if I need to study on the weekends, I’ll take it.”
Susan McLaughlin told NBCNews in 2021 how medication has improved her ability to function while living with ADHD. “I know it’s super-controversial sometimes. But I’ve been medicated for a long time, and I can’t function without taking it,” she said. “If I don’t take my medication, I see an immediate difference in my ability to manage complex tasks, clean the house, get up and cook dinner.”
Many adults like McLaughlin find it necessary to continue medication into adulthood even if they were diagnosed as a kid. Besides helping them focus in school settings, proper treatment for ADD and ADHD can help grownups be productive and function efficiently throughout the day.
Hollis Cuffie told CNN in 2018 what it’s like living with ADHD and how he takes medication and supplements his treatment with a healthy lifestyle. He says that releasing the pent-up energy in the brain through physical activity is one way he manages the condition in addition to his medication. He also says what he eats is critical to his mental health. Says Cuffie, “Diet plays a huge role in deploying adequate resources for your cognitive function.”
In many cases, receiving the diagnosis of ADHD comes with a sense of relief. An official diagnosis provides concrete answers as to why you’re feeling this way or experiencing certain symptoms. This makes it possible to take steps to better manage these symptoms.
Jo, a 35-year-old from Australia,said of receiving an ADHD diagnosis, “My psychiatrist referred me to a support group run by a psychologist, and in a follow-up appointment I decided to try medication.” The medication has drastically improved Jo’s ability to function on a daily basis. “It helps me to set goals, focus, problem-solve and stay on track so I can complete tasks successfully.”
Why It Can Be Challenging To Adhere to Treatment Plans
People living with ADD and ADHD can work with their primary physician or psychiatric provider to develop a treatment strategy that suits their current lifestyle. For example, young adults in college or university may be more inclined to continue with their ADHD medications for academic purposes than adults who are no longer in these types of settings.
Some adults may choose other coping mechanisms for ADHD like living a healthy, active lifestyle in combination with attending CBT sessions.
However, many people with ADHD may struggle with adhering to their prescribed medications due to the side effects or the way they feel when taking the medication.Erin Delaney March told CNN, “When I graduate college, I’m not sure if I’ll still be taking it. Because I’ve found that I’m more creative without it.”
Shakiara Gilliam shared with CNN that although she took medication for her ADHD for several years, from childhood into adulthood, she no longer uses it as a form of treatment because she didn’t like the way it made her feel. Said Gilliam, “I would go into this robotic personality, and I only wanted to do work and had zero emotion.”
ADHD and ADD medications affect everyone slightly differently. There are various prescriptions available, and you should work with your doctor or psychiatric provider to find the medication and dosage that offers optimal results for you.
How To Live with ADD and ADHD (With Support)
Living with ADD and ADHD can seem challenging after receiving a diagnosis; however, it’s important to understand that professional treatment and support is available. If you’re located in Florida, FHE Health offers a range of options for managing ADD and ADHD so you can get your life back on track and feel your best again.
In addition to CBT and medication options, FHE Health works to educate parents on how they can support their children living with ADHD. Call today to speak to one of our counselors at (833) 596-3502 for more information.
Supporting Someone With ADHD
If someone you love has ADHD, there are several things you can do to support that person.
- Read books and articles about ADHD to increase your understanding of the condition.
- Keep in mind that ADHD is a health issue. Even if your loved one goes to therapy or takes medication, they may continue to have symptoms. Try not to be frustrated if someone you love shows up late, has trouble paying attention or interrupts you when you’re talking.
- If you see your loved one daily, try to establish a routine. Having a routine can help someone with ADHD better control their symptoms.
- Act as an advocate for your loved one. If you attend family events or social functions together, take an active role in requesting accommodations.
- If your loved one starts talking about the negative effects of ADHD in their life, listen without judgment.
Professional Help for ADHD
Because ADHD is a behavioral health disorder, it’s important to seek professional help for tips on developing appropriate ADHD coping skills. A professional can also help correct unhealthy ADHD coping mechanisms and recommend medications and/or therapy as appropriate. If you or someone you love needs help with ADHD, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Call FHE Health at (833) 596-3502 to speak with one of our compassionate counselors.