Do you forget appointments, have piles of paper everywhere, lose things or have difficulty starting projects? If so, it is possible that you suffer from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
If you are a baby boomer, there is a good possibility that you were never properly diagnosed. As a student, you may have been inconsistent, struggled with boundaries and were easily distracted.
If you have ADHD, you have a “disorganized brain.” This means that you are unique in the way that you process information. To live up to your potential, you must learn new skills.
You may be engaging and charismatic, and readily make friends. But, you quite likely have trouble developing and keeping friends (blurting out whatever comes to mind is often detrimental to a friendship). You may struggle with respecting others’ boundaries, be forgetful and lack follow-through.
Studies show that ADHD individuals have dopamine and norepinephrine deficiencies. Medication alleviates some of the symptoms of ADHD, but medication does not cure the problem. Even with medication, distractibility, impulsivity and inattention are still prevalent.
Many clinicians treat ADHD with cognitive and behavioral therapies. Behavioral therapy focuses on positive and negative reinforcement. Such as, “What are the consequences of your behavior? How can you learn to stop, think and plan? How can you inspire yourself to complete a job before you become distracted and move on to something else? Can you think of ways to reward yourself so that you will stay motivated?”
Cognitive therapy defines specific problems you face, such as lack of social skills, low self-esteem and irrational beliefs, and teaches you skills to rectify these problems.
If you suffer from ADHD, you most likely struggle with what others think of you. You probably feel misunderstood and have great difficulty separating your negative behavior from who you are as a person.
Suffering much criticism from family, friends, co-workers and employers, you may feel that you have been your own worst enemy and that you have never, truly, lived up to your potential.
With therapy and/or medication, you can change your thoughts, behaviors and the way that you perceive yourself. Overcoming distorted beliefs will help you to develop self-esteem. You can learn to visualize concepts and convert them to memory.
Charts can help you track your progress. Smart Phones or day planners, notes and calendars, or voice recorders will assist you, making you more efficient. Teaching yourself to work toward a goal and not expecting instant gratification will help you in business and in personal relationships.
If you feel that you have never been properly diagnosed, seek a psychiatrist and/or a therapist so you can embrace the positive qualities of your ADHD such as high energy, spontaneity, creativity, tenacity and your ability to see the big picture. Then you can reach your full potential and be the person you were born to be!
• Kristina Welker is a doctor of psychology, a licensed professional counselor and a member of the Ahwatukee Behavioral Health Network. Reach her at (480) 893-6767 or firstname.lastname@example.org.