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Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)

Adult Attention Deficit Disorder (AADD)

Attention and Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

Counselling and Coaching for Adult AD(H)D

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 of Adult ADD are:

    • Inability to concentrate – especially on boring, tedious tasks
    • Feeling Overwhelmed
    • Being very sensitive to rejection and criticism
    • Irritability/impatience
    • 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 – Moodswings
    • Restlessness and Anxiety
    • “Self-medicating” with food, alcohol and other substances
    • Self-doubt, shame and despair: you might be very intelligent and creative, but find it difficult to tidy away your clothes, pay the bills etc.
    • Suffering from “Out of sight – out of Mind” – both physically (difficulty to tidy/when you have tidied finding things again) and emotionally (your friends might complain that you don’t keep in touch)
    • 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 in children 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 recognised 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?

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

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

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, might move around very little, some suffer with weight issues. Loneliness and isolation are  common as they have learned to avoid people who do not understand them and are critical of them. Some lose themselves in gaming, social media and box-set binge-watching.

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….”

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…

ADHD coach ADD counselor

The “ADHD Filing System“!   😉 People with ADHD often need to see everything they want to work on…

This is doubly painful because adults with ADD are often very intelligent and creative – and feel criticism and rejection much more acutely than non-ADD individuals.
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  sufferer’s 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 Mental Health Practitioners 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 empowered and have more compassion for your own struggles.

In the Specialist Coaching and Counselling for people with ADD there will be time for education about ADHD, for allowing the feelings of grief, anger, hurt and loss for all the decades you were alone with this and maybe even stigmatised.
Together, we will do 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 quickly, but seeing someone who has special expertise is usually very illuminating, a great relief – and fun!

Some Resources for People with Adult ADD and ADHD

Click here for an Adult ADHD Self-Report Scale. Please remember this is not a diagnostic tool, but just shows a tendency. Also, this scale emphasises Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity, (Part A), which is often less present in Adults, so you might “only” score highly in Part B. For questions and further advise, please book an appointment.

There are support groups for Adults with AD(H)D in many bigger cities now. Please google for your area.
There is more info in the US, some good tips can be found in the digital version of ADDitude Magazine.  The U.S. organisation CHADD also offers some noteworthy information.

Many adults coming to my practise have not had a good experience with local GPs and Psychiatrists who have not had special training in ADD. Having professional support therefore can be of great help.

My two favourite (audio-) books so far are:

The ‘Standard’, Hallowell, Edward and Ratley, John J., Driven to Distraction: Recognising and Coping with Attention Deficit Disorder from Childhood Through Adulthood. It is full of good case examples, discusses the different forms of AD(H)D as well as talking about nutrition etc.

and Matlen, Terry, The Queen of Distraction: How Women with ADHD Can Conquer Chaos, Find Focus, and Get More Done. This one is really funny, empathetic and full of good tips. It is also a bit shorter than Hallowell’s, which might matter to you if you have ADHD.