The number of adults being diagnosed with Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) for the first time is on the rise. This increase could be due to a number of factors, including:
- Stigma against ADHD when these adults were children
- More public knowledge about ADHD
- A better understanding of ADHD in the mental health community
- Less stigma toward mental health treatment in general
Some professionals estimate that as many as five percent of adults in the United States live with ADHD. If you’re one of the many adults who just received this diagnosis, you may feel overwhelmed by the information and unsure of your next steps. We talked to LifeStance Health providers who diagnose and treat adults with ADHD to get insight into the best steps to take after being diagnosed with ADHD.
Accept All Your Emotions
Receiving any diagnosis can bring on a flood of feelings. As you work through what ADHD means for your past and future, be sure to connect to each of the emotions that come up, even if they seem contradictory.
“A diagnosis of ADHD as an adult may come with mixed emotions—relief that arises from knowledge and grief associated with missed past opportunities,” psychologist Noreen Donovan, Ph.D. explained. “It is important to tune into and accept all of these feelings.”
You don’t have to cope with these emotions alone. Many different types of professionals can help you along the way.
Understand Your Treatment Options
Although there is no cure for ADHD, there are many effective treatment options. With the right care plan, you can manage the most intrusive symptoms of ADHD without stifling your unique personality.
“It is recommended that adults talk to a professional about their treatment options,” Donovan sad. “This includes medication to treat symptoms, coaching to support executive functioning, and therapy to address common psychological distress including increased stress, anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, and underachievement.”
Consider ADHD Medication
“After a diagnosis of ADHD, the next step would be a trial of ADHD medication (unless medically contraindicated),” psychologist Kenneth Wilson, Psy.D. said.
Stimulants are the first-line treatment option for people with ADHD. While it may seem counterintuitive, these medications allow people with ADHD to focus and can quell hyperactivity. Some non-stimulant medications are also approved for ADHD treatment.
A psychiatrist or psychiatric advanced nurse practitioner can help you determine what, if any, medication is right for you. Ultimately, it is up to you to decide whether medication works as part of your treatment plan.
Talk to a Therapist or ADHD Coach
Whether you decide to take medication or not, talking to a therapist can be an important part of your treatment plan. These professionals can help you cope with the emotions of being diagnosed, learn to control impulses, and more.
“A therapist or coach could help an individual with ADHD focus on executive functioning strategies that can target organizational skills and help them understand any barriers that have gotten in the way thus far,” psychologist Emily Hotz, Psy.D. explained. “A professional can also help adults with ADHD think about impulsive behavior and learn how to slow down before making rash decisions.”
Learn Tips and Tricks
Managing adult ADHD is primarily about understanding your mind and finding ways to work with it. Several tips and tricks can help you cope with some of the frustrating symptoms of ADHD. For example, Hotz recommends using a planner for at least eight months to build a habit and routine.
“Taking breaks when attention wanes and trying to engage with things in a hands-on manner can be helpful for individuals with ADHD,” Hotz also suggested. You can also find tips in online support groups and ADHD organizations. Some people find certain apps helpful. For example, Tody can help you visualize what needs to be cleaned and when.
Shine a Positive Light on ADHD
There’s no doubt that ADHD can cause unpleasant and frustrating symptoms. But with the right care plan, it can become something positive.
“Some people view it as a super power, allowing them to multitask much easier than others,” Hotz said. “It does not have to be limiting, successful people are able to focus on their strengths to work around their weaknesses.”
“It is important to celebrate the strengths many adults with ADHD share, and among them are a tendency toward creative, ‘out-of-the-box’ thinking and inherent hyper-focus abilities when involved in novel, engaging activities,” Donovan elaborated.
This can be a difficult time for anyone. However, you do not have to navigate it alone. Make an appointment today with one of our expert providers and take the next step toward a more balanced future.