Your desk is a mess.
You have unfinished projects all over your house.
Work is piling up.
If this sounds like you, you might be concerned that something is wrong. All of a sudden, you just can’t seem to get anything done and you’re overwhelmed. You’ve probably heard a lot about Adult ADHD and wonder if that could be you. It’s a common question that counselors get and the answer isn’t always a simple yes or no. Let’s take a closer look at what might be happening.
Adult ADHD Defined
Adult attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a recognized mental health disorder characterized by a combination of symptoms such as problems paying attention, disorganization, hyperactivity, or impulsive behavior. For adults, ADHD can create problems with relationships, poor work or school performance, low self-esteem, and other issues.
Once thought to be a disorder of childhood, ADHD is now recognized as a disorder that can affect adults. In fact, it is estimated that the prevalence of ADHD for adults is about 4%. However, although it is called Adult ADHD, it doesn’t just suddenly appear in adulthood. In fact, it is generally accepted that symptoms of ADHD start in early childhood and continue into adulthood. It is also true that in some cases, though, the ADHD is not recognized or diagnosed until the person is well into adulthood. There are very specific diagnostic criteria that Atlanta counselors use to make that diagnosis.
Simply being disorganized or distractible doesn’t mean you have ADHD. In fact, if this is more recent than life-long, it’s more likely there are other factors affecting your ability to focus and to get things done. Check out these attention-thieves and tips for what you can do about them from an Atlanta counselor.
The Problem: You’re Over-Scheduled
You’ve probably got people and tasks vying for your attention. Kids, work, partners…everyone needs something or to be somewhere. It can feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day. And there may not be.
The Tip: Take a look at your schedule. Are there things that can wait? Can you share tasks? For example, maybe you can share picking up the kids from practice with another parent. When your schedule is manageable, you’re more likely to get things done.
The Problem: You’re Sleep Deprived
Of all the keys to wellness, perhaps none is more important than sleep. Good, restorative sleep is the foundation of health and effects body and brain function. When you’re lacking sleep, your energy is low and your attention and ability to process information are drastically reduced. You’re more likely to make mistakes or just not have the energy to finish what you’ve started.
The Tip: What’s your sleep been like lately? Strive to get your 8 hours. Practice good sleep hygiene by having a set sleep schedule and a comfortable sleep space.
The Problem: You’re Trying to Go Big
The temptation to just get it done is strong. But, big tasks can be overwhelming and feel impossible. There doesn’t seem to be a beginning or end. When that happens, we are human and our brains are likely to just say, “nope”. And, then we worry about why we can’t get it done.
The Tip: Try chunking! The chunking strategy is based on the fact that our working memory can only hold on to a few bits (chunks) of information at a time – 4 or 5 to be exact. In other words, your brain can only do so much at any given time. Break your tasks down into manageable pieces and take them one at a time. Chunking can give you some breathing room and give your brain a break so it will be ready to take on the next step.
Try these strategies to help you regain your attention and focus. If you’re still struggling, reach out for help. A skilled counselor can help you further explore what’s happening and work with you to find solutions so that you can get back on track.
Kessler, R. C., Adler, L., Barkley, R., Biederman, J., Conners, C. K., Demler, O., Faraone, S. V., Greenhill, L. L., Howes, M. J., Secnik, K., Spencer, T., Ustun, T. B., Walters, E. E., & Zaslavsky, A. M. (2006). The prevalence and correlates of adult ADHD in the United States: results from the National Comorbidity Survey Replication. The American journal of psychiatry, 163(4), 716–723. https://doi.org/10.1176/ajp.2006.163.4.716