published Thursday, August 30th, 2012

Upton: Adult ADHD often causes loss of focus

Most people are familiar with the disorder called ADD (attention-deficit disorder) or ADHD (attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder).

We've witnessed children who seem to have an overabundance of energy, difficulty stopping themselves from interrupting conversations, staying focused or keeping their impulses from affecting everyone around them.

Schools often provide resources for parents whose children suffer from the inattentive or hyperactive/compulsive components of this disorder. There are even support groups and specialized counselors that help caregivers cope and learn new strategies to help them and their children.

The causes of ADHD are unknown, but researchers believe that there are differences in the brain structure of those with true ADHD. Mothers who smoke, use alcohol or drugs while pregnant also may have children with signs of ADHD. Exposure to lead can cause some symptoms as well. Certain parts of the brain may not develop as quickly for those with the disorder, and this may be why many children with ADHD eventually grow out of it.

However, 60 percent of those who suffer from ADHD symptoms as children carry them throughout their adult lives. Those symptoms include the following and more: difficulty organizing tasks or following sequential directions, completing work within time frames or remembering appointments. The list of how it affects the lives of adults is even longer. Take a look at this picture.

Adults with ADHD often face these challenges:

Anxiety -- They may feel "keyed up" or easily stressed much of the time.

Low self-esteem -- Things that seem simple for others are more difficult for them, or they may struggle with a sense of failure or frustration over not achieving personal goals.

Employment problems -- They may find it difficult to control anger on the job or have difficulty meeting deadlines or being on time.

Difficulty controlling anger -- This can lead to regrettable statements and behavior that cause interpersonal problems.

Impulsiveness -- They may find yourself acting before thinking, then reaping the consequences later.

Substance abuse or addiction -- Many people who experiment with drugs do so impulsively; others find that substances seem to provide an avenue for self-medicating due to the perception that they may help them with mood and focus.

Poor organization skills -- Keeping their area clean or planning ahead can be a major struggle.

Procrastination -- Putting things off seems to help with anxiety in the present but, in the end, only causes the anxiety to linger or deepen.

Low frustration tolerance -- This is the feeling of overload or extreme irritability when things don't go as planned, something doesn't work as it should or a general goal is blocked.

Chronic boredom -- This also may feel like emptiness or restlessness.

Difficulty concentrating when reading -- Some people with adult ADHD have difficulty even reading a book from cover to cover.

Depression and mood swings -- Bouts of sadness may overtake without warning, and others may notice swift changes in mood before they do.

Relationship issues -- This may occur if promises or dates are forgotten or unintentional distancing behavior occurs that puts a strain on your love relationships.

There is always hope for adults who struggle with this disorder. Get appropriate testing if you feel you have the signs. Medications can be prescribed by your doctor; natural supplements and certain foods may help; and strategiescan be learned by talking with a counselor or coach.

Tabi Upton is a local therapist and free-lance writer. Email her at

about Tabi Upton...

Tabi Upton, MA-LPC is a therapist at New Beginnings Counseling Center.

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