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When You’re Diagnosed With ADHD as An Adult! What To Know and What To Do Next

A young woman is walking on the sidewalk of a busy city. She has her hand in her pocket and is looking down as she smiles.

When You’re Diagnosed With ADHD as An Adult! What To Know and What To Do Next

A young woman is walking on the sidewalk of a busy city. She has her hand in her pocket and is looking down as she smiles.

Embarking on the journey of self-discovery is a courageous step, and for many adults, receiving a diagnosis of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) can be a profound moment. Understanding the nuances of ADHD in adulthood and figuring out the next steps can be both overwhelming and empowering. You may find that you spend a lot of time reflecting on your past, wondering how it could have been different (read: better) if you had known about your ADHD and been given the tools to deal with it at a younger age. What you’ve had to take on and the ways you’ve had to adapt in order to get through may become clearer to you over time, and you may need to re-learn processes and habits to better suit your goals going forward.

What to Know About ADHD

Understanding the intricacies of adult ADHD is crucial for informed self-management. Firstly, it is important to recognize that the symptoms of ADHD in adults vary widely, often presenting differently than the stereotypical hyperactivity associated with children. Adults with ADHD might struggle with chronic forgetfulness, time management issues, or impulsive decision-making. Acknowledging these diverse manifestations is a key step toward accurate diagnosis and effective coping strategies.

3 Things to Do Next

1) Educate Yourself

A young Hispanic woman is sitting on the couch in her living room. She has her laptop open on her lap as she holds her glasses in her hand.

Knowledge is power, and educating yourself about the condition will empower you to make informed decisions about treatment options, lifestyle adjustments, and coping mechanisms. There are numerous reputable resources, books, and support groups available that can provide valuable insights and strategies. While ADHD can manifest in many different ways, some common denominators are beneficial to understand as you move forward. These common traits also come with methods of treatment that have been proven to alleviate the symptoms of ADHD.

We hear from our clients here in our Woodland Hills ADHD therapy sessions how many ADHD traits they had; they can see now, in hindsight, what was going on and how it was impacting their lives. Understanding why it was so easy to lose yourself in some tasks and why it felt impossible to focus on others, why you have had such a hard time remembering things, and more will give you perspective on what’s really been going on for you this whole time. You might recognize that your relationship with food, with moving your body, with substances, and with sleep have all been impacted by your ADHD.

Education isn’t about searching for excuses but rather explanations. When you can lay out what you know and fill in the blanks with what you learn, you have a better view of the whole picture.

Did you know that not everyone who has ADHD is hyperactive? If this is you, this may have contributed to your ADHD being missed. In fact, ADHD shows up differently in people depending on many factors, including sex, age, and life circumstances. In your research, you may learn about various medications that can be prescribed to alleviate symptoms of ADHD. There is no medication that can “treat” ADHD to the point that it no longer exists, and not all medications are right for all people.

In order to be educated about how ADHD shows up for you, you may have to work on your mindfulness. It can be a lot to take in, when you are putting all the pieces of the puzzle together; you may have a lot of thoughts and feelings that arise. To truly learn what is most relevant to and beneficial for yourself, it is best to be honest with yourself. If you are emotionally attached to what you discover, you might resist the information you need most. In mindfulness, we detach our worth and our investment from what we observe about ourselves. We can then note what we are experiencing and accept it as it is. Set aside time when you aren’t feeling rushed to go through your research. Set yourself up for success by ensuring you’ve had enough to eat and drink in the day, wearing comfortable clothes, and having somewhere that feels safe to sit.

While social media can do wonders to signal boost issues and to help reduce stigmas, be careful not to take everything you hear to heart. Definitely utilize social media as a way to hear new terms, but then do your own research, which includes bringing your ideas and questions to a trusted mental health provider. Something you hear about might be happening to you, or it might not actually apply. The feeling of solidarity and the normalization of our everyday struggles is a wonderful thing about mental health awareness on social media; just make sure that what you are taking away benefits you the most and is most aligned with your experience.

2) Build a Support Network

Two young women are sitting on the couch in a living room. They are both talking and smiling together. One of the women is holding a coffee mug in her hand.

Creating a robust support network is crucial for navigating the challenges that may arise. This network can include friends, family, colleagues, and mental health professionals. Seeking therapy or counseling can be particularly beneficial, offering a safe space to discuss your experiences, develop coping strategies, and receive guidance on managing ADHD in various aspects of life.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is the gold standard for therapy for ADHD. With CBT, a process of identifying thought patterns and adjusting the resulting behavior is undertaken. In the past, you may have responded to being overwhelmed by avoiding any task altogether. You may have responded to the lack of motivation to work on something by procrastinating. Through the years, you might have realized that the rush of adrenaline you got from being in a time crunch helped you to get things done; this is a common struggle for people who have ADHD. Through CBT, you can determine the behavior you want to change and figure out how to change it. This might take some trial-and-error, including using timers, structuring your day more soundly, breaking projects down, and coming up with rewards for yourself along the way or other “hacks.” Having a therapist in your support network is the best way to explore your tactics and methods in a safe environment.

This support network can also include other folks who have ADHD, especially those whose diagnosis came after childhood. Whether you are able to connect in person or online, people who have been where you are and understand how it feels to have ADHD will be of immense comfort to you. There will be times when you are able to connect with someone who has had a similar ah-ha moment about a symptom of ADHD and support one another, commiserate together, or even share a laugh about it.

Sometimes, a support network isn’t solely about the issue at hand. You might find support through playing a team sport, joining an art class, or joining some other club. The community you build doesn’t have to revolve around your ADHD. What matters most is that you are participating in a life that brings you happiness and fulfillment. The people in your support network might help you grow your confidence in yourself in a way that is completely separate from any diagnosis you are working through.

If you find that you are reflecting on your past and seeing how your ADHD was impacting relationships (forgetfulness, disorganization, inconsistency, and other ADHD traits can make relationships difficult to navigate), building your support network can also serve as a healing exercise. Reaching out with love and appreciation to stabilize your support network is an act of self-love. It can feel incredibly vulnerable to admit that you need the care and consideration of others, but that is where breakthroughs happen. Whether or not you specify that you have a new diagnosis, doing the work to ensure your interpersonal relationships are sound will go a long way toward you accepting that you are worthy of those connections.

3) Develop Personalized Coping Strategies

A young African American woman is sitting at her dining table working. She is holding a pen in her hand as she writes on a piece of paper. There is a coffee cup placed next to her on the table.

No two individuals with ADHD are alike, but we have some tried-and-true suggestions that have worked for our clients who attend ADHD therapy in Woodland Hills. It is essential to identify personalized coping strategies that work for you; there is no point in trying to do what someone else does if that person’s lifestyle doesn’t align with yours. This may involve implementing organizational tools, time management techniques, or mindfulness practices. 

Give every tip and trick you come across an honest try. At the same time, don’t try to force yourself to adopt a behavior that just doesn’t suit you. Consider how each coping strategy fits into your life and how your life might be able to adjust to accommodate a coping strategy that works for you. For example, if you have a set work schedule, an activity that conflicts with your schedule isn’t going to work for you, no matter how much you might like it to. However, you might seek out a similar activity that happens outside of your working hours. Emulating people you admire is great; inspiration and motivation are always helpful to have! But don’t seek to utilize methods that work for someone whose lifestyle is completely different from your own. And do not be down on yourself if you can’t employ the same tactics as someone whose resources vastly outpace your own. Time and money are powerful assets; some people will have more of each than you do, just as you have more than others. Understand how you can utilize your resources effectively by being honest about where you’re at and what you’re working with.

Learning to utilize a planner is a game-changer for folks with ADHD. At first, you may hesitate: Will you remember where you left your planner, and will you remember to use it? What will you do if you don’t have it with you? These are valid questions. The solution is always to keep your planner in the same place; make notes on your phone if you need to remember to write something down. Utilize your planner as the official guidebook of your life – if it’s in the planner, it’s happening. Use different colored pens for leisure, work, errands, and hobbies. Use stickers. Doodle in the margins. Whatever it takes to make your planner fun for you. Seeing your month, week, or day at a glance lets you understand that you’re not forgetting anything and also lets you visualize how you’re balancing your various obligations.

One vital coping strategy is to remember that progress is not a straight, upward line. There will be things you forget, choices you make, and mishaps that occur. This is a part of life that happens no matter how hard we try to control our situation or how meticulous our plan is. A key facet of coping is being resilient. When something that tests you happens, how do you stay close to yourself and your values? How do you recalibrate? How do you care for your nervous system? Do you recognize the signs of burnout before you’re burnt out? Do you pay attention to your schedule and make sure you’re setting yourself up for success through adequate sleep, nutrition, hydration, and emotional and physical outlets?

Consider how you can utilize your support network. You may benefit from reassurance and affirmations; it is great to learn how to provide that support, but no person thrives alone. Can your friends and family help to cheer you on when you achieve new coping skills? Can they help you work out a schedule, a plan, or a series of behaviors? You may also find that you benefit from their presence alone. If someone can sit with you while you work on a task, you might discover that it’s easier for you to accomplish it. This is called Body Doubling. The person who is with you in the room while you work doesn’t have to be working on the same project or even working on anything at all. Can you set time in advance when someone can help you, either through body doubling or by some other means? How can support from the people around you act as a framework for building, maintaining, and taking pride in your personal habits?

A young Asian American woman is crossing the street in Los Angeles. She is holding her phone in her hand and is smiling.

As an ADHD counselor in Woodland Hills, I see patients of all ages who have received a diagnosis and are hoping to navigate their diagnosis effectively. Whether in-person or attending online ADHD therapy, the stories have a common theme: processing what used to be and moving toward the future. What works best for you depends on your existing schedule, access to help and care, your body’s natural patterns and needs (such as sleep schedule, nutritional needs, etc.), and your mindset. Whether you think you can do something or you think you cannot, you are correct. ADHD complicates things, but feeling organized and confident is not an impossible dream for you. It is all about being willing to try new things, invest in them, let them go if they’re not working for you, and try again afterward.

ADHD Treatment at Embracing You Therapy

The effects of ADHD symptoms in your adult life tends to be very debilitating, causing communication conflits, task management dilemas, and overall feeling of loss and confusion. . ADHD Treatment in Woodland Hills is taiolored to identify the unique challenges of your ADHD brain and create action steps that can be easily and effectively integrated into your life. 

Contact us today for your complimentary 20-minute phone consultation with our Admin Team today!

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