Undiagnosed or untreated ADD/ADHD can result in a person experiencing problems in basically every area of their life.
The range of effects ADD/ADHD has can result in feelings of embarrassment, frustration, disappointment, hopelessness and lack of confidence. What is important to remember when receiving a diagnosis of ADD/ADHD is that the problems and difficulties you have been experiencing are as a result of the symptoms of ADD/ADHD and not because of a personal weakness or character flaw.
The Negative Side of Adult ADD/ADHD
Mental & Physical Health
The symptoms of ADD/ADHD can contribute to a variety of health problems including:
- compulsive eating
- substance abuse or addiction
- chronic stress & tension
- low self-esteem
- mood swings
In addition to this, those with ADD/ADHD are more likely to forget or ignore important medical check-ups and doctors appointments, fail to read and follow medical instructions, and possibly forget to take medications.
Work & Finances
Adults with untreated ADD/ADHD are more likely to change jobs more frequently and under-perform, resulting in low self-esteem and lack of confidence. Problems adults with ADD/ADHD experience in the work (or college) environment include:
- trouble keeping a job or staying in college
- difficulty with following company or college rules
- difficulty meeting deadlines
- difficulty sticking to a 9 – 5 routine or college schedule
In addition to this many adults with ADD/ADHD find it difficult managing their own finances resulting in bills not being paid or getting lost, late fees and debt due to impulsive spending.
Adults with undiagnosed or untreated ADD/ADHD are at a higher risk for:
- marital / relationship problems
- multiple marriages due to divorce
- higher incidences of separation and divorce
The symptoms of ADD/ADHD can put an enormous amount of strain on work, family and love relationships. The person with ADD/ADHD is often frustrated by their inability to “get organised” or “listen” or “focus”; and those close to them become increasingly resentful because of their perceived lack of “responsibility” and “attention”.
Having ADD/ADHD does not mean you cannot pursue your dreams or lead a “normal” life; nor is it an indicator of a person’s intelligence or capabilities. What ADD/ADHD does mean is that there may be certain things that are more challenging for you than for others, this doesn’t mean you can’t find ways around these challenges and succeed.
The key to coping with a diagnosis of ADD/ADHD is finding what your strengths are and capitalising on them. You may be disorganised and impulsive but you may also be highly creative, passionate and able to see things from a totally different perspective to others. The aim is to identify what you are good at and work around that.
The Positive Side of Adult ADD/ADHD
A different way to view hyperactivity is “high energy”. If you’re following a career where energy and stamina are required, you can use your “high energy” to your advantage. The challenge however is learning to harness the energy, instead of allowing it to disrupt your focus.
The Devil’s in the Detail
People with ADD/ADHD are not commonly known for their attention to detail; but what most people forget is that a person with ADD/ADHD often can and will become very focussed on tasks or activities they do enjoy, and as a result may pick on details others will miss.
Live in the Now
As with hyperactivity, implusivity too has a positive side to it – being impulsive means you are the type of person who “lives in the now” and doesn’t dwell too far into the future.
Although impulsive behaviour can be risky and can result in unnecessary problems and consequences, if you can learn to manage and direct your impulses the benefits could outweigh the risks.
In Part 3 of Focus On: ADD/ADHD we will be looking at Ways of Managing Adult ADD/ADHD
*The information contained in this post is for informative purposes only and is not a substitute for professional diagnosis and treatment.
Metcalf, E. (2013). The Positive Side of Adult ADHD. Retrieved from: http://www.webmd.com/add-adhd/features/positives?page=2 [Accessed on: 25 February 2015].
Segal, R. & Smith, M. (2014). Adult ADD/ADHD: Signs, Symptoms, Effects and Treatment. Retrieved from: http://www.helpguide.org/articles/add-adhd/adult-adhd-attention-deficit-disorder.htm [Accessed on: 25 February 2015].