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Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)

Adult Attention Deficit Disorder (AADD)

Attention and Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)


ADD/ADHD in Adults is not yet well known in the UK. Everybody knows of children with ADHD, who cannot concentrate, cannot sit still – but did you know that many Adults suffer from Attention Deficit Disorder?

In Adults it is far less likely to see hyperactivity than it is in children,  but you might actually know adults with ADD who have not been diagnosed and suffer unnecessarily as a result. Maybe you even have these symptoms yourself…

Common features are:

Inability to concentrate – especially on boring and tedious tasks
Difficulty with time keeping
Difficulty with organising yourself
Difficulties with memory, attention to detail or sustained vigilance
Difficulties with prioritising
Difficulties with decision making
Interrupting others in conversation frequently
Getting distracted
Low mood/depression
Restlessness and Anxiety
“Self-medicating” with food, alcohol and other substancesSelf-doubt, shame and despair: you might be very intelligent and creative, but find it difficult to tidy away your clothes, pay the bills etc.
Problems with sleep.

This is not meant as a way to self-diagnose, but merely gives some pointers for further investigation.

While ADHD is quite well known now, most people are less aware of the more ‘introverted’ form of AD(H)D, known as ADD. This is more common in girls and in adults but usually not recognisied and therefore not treated, which leads to a lot of shame, unnecessary pain and depression. So, what does Attention Deficit Disorder of the more  introverted variety look like?

The difficulties with concentrating, time-keeping, memory etc are largely the same, but people with ADD usually appear dreamy, perhaps even slow, absent, they are often very sensitive (and are scolded by people around them for this) – they might be weepy and despairing  one moment and short-tempered and irritable the next. They are unlikely to tap their feet etc, but might move around very little, some suffer with weight issues. Loneliness or isolation might also be common as they have learned to avoid people who do not understand them and are critical of them. Very often, they feel they have very little energy and are exhausted a lot of the time. One woman said to me, “By 2pm my day is finished. I am only ever really awake between 9:30 and 11:00am. I drink lots of coffee – it seems to help, but actually it does not. In the end I am just wired and tired. My partner does not understand that. I do not have the energy to tidy away my clothes, to wash the dishes after dinner. He thinks I am lazy and don’t care about his feelings. That is wrong! I want to, but there is just nothing left. Everything is a struggle and it feels like I am fighting a loosing battle, every single day! And the tasks mount up day after day! I could cry. Sometimes I don’t want to live….”

Adult ADHD - how to overcome disorder and problems...

Life may feel chaotic with ADHD/ADD – getting support will help to manage your life!

Both types of  ADD and ADHD sufferers struggle with what is named “Executive Functioning” which includes decision making, prioritising, memory, attention to everyday tasks (like not burning food, taking your shopping list with you to the shop) tidying, being able to finish tasks (especially difficult once you have been disrupted), planning ahead and so forth.

This is due to brain chemistry, which is now well documented – ADD/ADHD in adults is a real condition, it is not anyone’s fault, though you have probably been called lazy, selfish, stupid and who knows what else…

This is doubly difficult because adults with ADD are often very intelligent and creative. They just “can’t get it together” and finish their projects. Often they are very charismatic and can hyper-focus on things they are interested in, even memories everything there is to know about their favourite hobby, while being utterly unable to remember what their loved ones told them ten minutes ago. Confusing? Yes! Naturally, this provokes negative reactions from those around them, which in turn leads to more shame, depression and anger.

Many have problems with sustaining relationships.

And many feel caged, trapped, with an underlying sense they are not fulfilling their potential. This is likely to be the case through no fault of their own (they are often accused of lacking discipline or will-power).

So, you can see that this would lead to a lot of hardship in the  AADD/AD(H)D  sufferers life. This does not need to be the case. Why see  a therapist with a special interest in Adult Attention Deficit Disorders?

Well, sadly most therapists in Europe are not very aware of this yet.

It is vital to find someone who can assist you on your journey to a happier life, where you feel more impowered and have more compassion for your own struggles. In the specialist counselling for people with ADD there will be time for education about ADHD, for allowing the feelings of grief and anger for all the decades you were alone with this and maybe even stigmatised. There will be special skills training. I will point you to other resources like self-help groups, books, we will see whether you would like to take medication and/or what other ways we have to support your brain together so that you can function much better and enjoy your relationships. Obviously, I cannot and would not guarantee that you will get better, but seeing someone who has special expertise is usually very illuminating, a great relief – and sometimes even fun!