Adult ADHD: Don’t be impulsive
As the year winds down and we find ourselves eating more, spending more and thinking less, adults with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) need to work harder to control impulsive habits.
“ADHD has three basic groups of symptoms: inattention, impulsivity and hyperactivity,” says Dr Rykie Liebenberg, psychiatrist and convener of the South African ADHD Special Interest Group. She explains that ADHD is a lifetime disorder but may only present in adulthood for the first time. Symptoms vary across a wide spectrum – from mild to severe – and can fluctuate depending on life circumstances (a promotion, new job, starting to study, and so on).
“Adults with ADHD are naturally more impulsive in their day-to-day lives, which can pose a major challenge during the festive season when overspending and indulging is on the up-swing,” says Dr Liebenberg. “Problems with managing finances, diet and drinking become even more prevalent in peak holiday season.”
3 tips to get through the festive season
Dr Liebenberg shares three tips to surviving the festive season with ADHD:
1. Shop with a friend or partner – they can keep you in check and make sure you’re not veering off course and purchasing unnecessary out-of-budget items.
2. Make a concise list of the gifts or items you need and set a budget. Avoid large shopping malls where you’ll be tempted – stick to smaller shops with limited options instead.
3. Attending an end-of-year function? Set a time limit and leave before things get too festive – or, even better, book your transport ahead of time so there is no temptation to stay on longer than you should.
Symptoms of ADHD
According to Dr Liebenberg, common symptoms of adult ADHD include inattention, distractibility, inability to sustain attention, procrastination, not completing tasks, missing deadlines, associated symptoms of mood swings, anger outbursts and impatience. Household tasks are postponed, bills not paid on time, chronic lateness, forgetfulness of appointments and personal belongings. Sleeping and eating habits are often chaotic.
Treatment of ADHD
Diagnosis of ADHD is made by a specialist with experience in the condition and treatment consists of a multimodal approach. Medication forms the core of treatment and is augmented by psychotherapy, psychoeducation of the patient (and the family), coaching, skills training, exercise and good sleeping habits.
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