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ADD in Adults


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ADD/ADHD makes life challenging, both for the person struggling with the problem, and family members. Because of its genetic basis, it is frequently found in several members of a family. It may co-occur with depression, anxiety or bipolar disorder, making diagnosis and treatment complex. However, it need not stop people from having happy and successful lives. Our speakers will discuss symptoms of ADD/ADHD in children and adults and frequently used medication and behavioral therapies. Coping mechanisms for the parents and sibs of ADD children and partners of ADD adults will be reviewed.

Published in: Health & Medicine, Education
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ADD in Adults

  1. 1. Created September 2013 ADD in Adults Presented by NAMI PA, Main Line, an affiliate of the National Alliance on Mental Illness Presenter: Ellen Berman MD 610 667 4617 Please view the final slide for NAMI PA, Main Line contact information.
  2. 2. Who is a family member of an adult with ADD?  What questions do you come with?
  3. 3. What is ADD?  Biologically based  Genetic component  Deficit in “executive functioning”: a basic capacity that includes inhibition, planning, working memory and set shifting.  Does not imply decreased intelligence  Level of impairment very variable  Generally responsive to treatment
  4. 4. Diagnosis  More difficult to diagnose in adulthood  Disorganized, forgetful, loses things  Unable to complete tasks (easily bored, procrastination, indecisiveness)  Racing thoughts or wandering thoughts  Misses social cues, difficulty collaborating  Hyperactive: Impatient, constantly moving  Symptoms must be present from before age 12  Symptoms must be severe, persistent, pervasive, impairing
  5. 5. Problems and Strengths  Impulsive  Disorganized  Difficulty starting and completing tasks  Job difficulties  Higher divorce rate  BUT  Can be creative and fun  Hyperfocus can get things done  Often very good at spatial relationships, hands on work, athletics
  6. 6. Co Occurring Problems  Learning differences  Depression  Anxiety  Substance abuse (commonly alcohol and marijuana)  Bipolar disorder  Increased rate of accidents (especially driving), arrests and antisocial behavior
  7. 7. Overlap bipolar and ADD  ADHD: poor follow through, poor listening skills, easily overwhelmed, inconsistent, forgetfulness  Bipolar-ADHD shared: hyperactivity, difficulty maintaining attention and focus (during highs), mood swings  Bipolar only: enduring dysphoric or euphoric mood, insomnia, delusions, decreased or increased sleep related to moods
  8. 8. Late Teenage and Launching  High use of substances  Difficulty studying, structuring life tasks in non- structured situations, such as college  Often one to two years behind socially  Driving accidents frequent  Impulsive sexuality, unsafe sex  Does not learn quickly from failures; may repeat same destructive behavior several times before changing
  9. 9. Relationship Issues in Adulthood  Forgetfulness/inability to stay on task or remember agreements  Hyperfocus on issues appears as disinterest in partner  Easily bored, hard to “linger”, high need for stimulation  Impulsiveness  Time management problems  Messiness; difficulty organizing home environment  Intent vs. ability to carry through  Sexual issues
  10. 10. Work Issues  Inability to complete tasks  Procrastination  Anger management  Trouble reading social cues
  11. 11. ADD and Parenting  Difficulty following through with routines or consequences  Time management difficulties make day to day activities difficult  Impatience/easily frustrated  May have difficulty reading child’s cues or emotions  Particular struggles when child is ADD as well  Parental arguments about strategy common and stressful for the child
  12. 12. Treatment  Accept the diagnosis and get treatment!!  Work arounds ; do what you’re good at, delegate what you’re bad at  Get well enough organized to function at work and at home. ADD coaching. Cognitive therapy.  Go with the positive but don’t avoid the problems.  Practice good communications and problem solving with your partner  Medication usually helps. Try it.  Reaching for strengths
  13. 13. The Non ADD Partner  Frustrated and confused  Tired of doing most of the routine work  Worried about money  Feels as if partner is not listening  Feels as if they have another child in the house
  14. 14. How can the Partner/Family Help  Accept the diagnosis in your loved one.  Choose your battles; stay as calm as possible.  Do not suggest person is stupid, lazy or “just not trying”.  Look for and appreciate the positives.  Practice good communication skills .  Do the budget/child pickup/clean-up yourself if you are seriously upset by the difficulties. Trade for tasks the ADD person is good at.
  15. 15. Suggested reading and websites  Driven to Distraction: Recognizing and Coping with Attention Deficit Disorder from Childhood Through Adulthood. by Ed Hallowell and John Ratey  Delivered from Distraction: Getting the Most out of Life with Attention Deficit Disorder by Ed Hallowell and John Ratey  The ADHD Effect on Marriage: Understand and Rebuild Your Relationship in Six Steps. by Melissa Orlov  Is it You, Me or Adult ADD? Stopping the Roller Coaster When Someone You Love Has Attention Deficit Disorder. by Gina Pera  ADD-Friendly Ways to Organize Your Life. by Judith Kolberg and Kathleen Nadeau  The Disorganized Mind: Coaching Your ADHD Brain to Take Control of Your Tasks, Time and Talents. by Nancy A. Ratey  CHADD: Children and Adults with Attention Deficit Disorder. Excellent website for everyone  Local coaching for ADD adults:
  16. 16. Created September 2013 Presented by NAMI PA, Main Line an affiliate of the National Alliance on Mental Illness All information is current as of publication date; please let us know if you encounter broken hyperlinks.