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Navigating Adult ADHD: A Practical Guide from ST & A Psychology

Living with Adult Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) involves managing a mix of challenging symptoms, including difficulty focusing, being easily distracted, forgetfulness, hyperactivity, and impulsiveness. These symptoms can impact negatively on your personal relationships, your work and study performance, your self-esteem, self-confidence, motivation, energy, sleep, mood, and enjoyment of life. At ST & A Psychology, Northern Beaches psychologists, we understand how important it is to effectively manage these symptoms. So that you can improve your quality of life, reach your full potential and not be held back by ADHD. This guide is designed to help you understand adult ADHD and offers strategies for effectively managing it, with expert support from our dedicated team. 

 What Causes ADHD? 

The exact cause of ADHD is not fully known, but the disorder has been shown to have a significant neurobiological basis. Neuroimaging studies have revealed differences in both the structure, and the functioning, of several parts of the ADHD brain, compared to those without the condition. Specifically, several studies have pointed to a smaller prefrontal cortex (frontal lobes) and basal ganglia, and decreased volume of the posterior inferior vermis of the cerebellum (central back of the brain) – all of which play important roles in focus and attention.  Other key functions of the frontal lobes such as executive functioning, short term working memory & emotional regulation can all be significantly different for those with ADHD, than for those without the disorder.  

Interestingly, the posterior inferior vermis of the cerebellum (central back of the brain) helps to regulate and control the right levels of mental/brain alertness/stimulation. Given it is structurally smaller, it performs poorly/differently for those with ADHD, and runs the brain at a lower level of internal stimulation than normal, making it hard to focus and pay attention, particularly when there are lower or normal levels of external stimulation (things going on outside of the brain in your visual, auditory and physical touch sensations). This is why people with ADHD find it hard to sit, relax and do nothing, and seem to be “on the go” all of the time, or are constantly fidgeting, moving their bodies, playing with things in their hands, and cannot sit still for long. So those with ADHD have a strong need to be very active mentally and behaviourally, to stimulate their brain, to a level that comfortable for them, so they can feel less agitated and jittery, and feel calmer and more focussed.   

 

 

 

One main reason why those with ADHD feel calmer and more focussed on stimulant medication, is because this stimulant medication helps to stimulate the brain more effectively.  

But how does the brain structure and function of those with ADHD both develop and perform differently than those without ADHD?  

Well, research reveals genetics play a key role in ADHD developing, and it often runs in families. Therefore, this reduction in functioning and structural differences may have developed purely due to genetics.  However, some studies have revealed that it may be more complicated than that with other contributing factors at play including problems with the central nervous system at key moments in development.  

Adult ADHD Symptoms 

Adults with ADHD may experience a range of symptoms that can significantly impact their daily lives and functioning. Common core symptoms include: 

  • Inattention: Difficulty sustaining focus, listening & paying attention, getting easily distracted by internal thoughts or external stimuli, overlooking details, not following through on or completing tasks & constantly switching between tasks. 
  • Memory: More easily forgetting things.  
  • Hyperactivity: Restlessness, often fidgeting, and an inability to stay still. 
  • Impulsivity: Poor self control, making hasty actions without considering consequences, difficulty waiting for one’s turn, and frequent interruptions in conversation. 
  • Other associated symptoms include: poor time management, organisational skills, self-esteem, and mood fluctuations. 

ADHD Strategies For Adults 

Effectively managing Adult ADHD requires a well-rounded approach that often combines education and mindset changes, learning and applying new psychological skills, Mindfulness, behavioural modifications, improving/strengthening weaker cognitive skills, and lifestyle changes. Often these lifestyle changes are considered in concert with medication considerations. By addressing the disorder on multiple fronts, individuals can better manage their impulsivity and hyperactivity, and significantly improve their focus, attention, short term working memory, executive functions, organisation and planning skills, productivity, self esteem, mood, and overall mental well-being. 

Here are some key ADHD services and strategies that have proven effective: 

  • Routine Establishment & Structure: Creating and following a structured daily routine can help establish an easy to follow path, manage expectations and reduce the potential for constant distractions and multiple decision making challenges, which can lead to little bits of lots of things attenpted, but nothing or very little getting completed/finished. 
  • Plan Effectively & Break Tasks into Smaller Steps with lists: Large tasks can be overwhelming; breaking them down into manageable pieces in a step by step list and following this plan, one step at a time, can help maintain focus and motivation and achieve things. 
  • Use of Reminders and Alarms: Technology can aid in managing time and responsibilities. Setting alarms for different tasks throughout the day can help stay on track. 

How to Create an Organised Home for Adults With ADHD 

Creating an organised environment can significantly reduce distractions, stress and forgetfulness, & improve functionality for adults with ADHD. 

Here are some tips: 

  • Designate Specific Places for Common Items: Always keep keys, wallets, and other essentials in designated spots to avoid misplacing them. 
  • Declutter Regularly: A minimalistic approach can reduce the feeling of being overwhelmed, distracted and make cleaning easier. 
  • Label Storage: Clearly label where things belong. This visual aid can help in maintaining order and finding items quickly. 

Time Management for Adults With ADHD 

Effective time management can significantly enhance daily productivity and overall life satisfaction. Here are thoughtful strategies that can help cultivate a more organised and manageable routine: 

  • Use Timers and Alarms: One of the simplest yet most effective tools for managing time is using timers and alarms. These tools can help compartmentalise your day into more focused intervals, allowing for dedicated times for work and rest. 
  • Prioritise Tasks Using To-Do Lists: Maintaining a to-do list is a practical way to visualise and prioritise your daily and weekly tasks. Start each day or week by listing out what you need to accomplish, then rank these tasks in order of importance or deadline. 
  • Allow Extra Time for Tasks: It’s common for tasks to take longer than expected, especially when managing ADHD. By building extra time into your schedule for each task, you reduce the pressure and anxiety that comes with tight deadlines. This buffer can help accommodate the unforeseen delays that often arise, whether due to distractions, underestimated task complexity, or simply needing a slower pace to maintain quality and focus. 

Integrating these strategies into your daily life can create a supportive structure, helping you navigate the challenges of ADHD with greater ease and effectiveness. 

How to Deal with Adult ADHD at Work 

Navigating the workplace with Adult ADHD can present unique challenges, but with the right strategies and understanding, you can enhance your performance and thrive in your career. 

Here are some practical tips designed to help you manage ADHD symptoms effectively while at work: 

  • Discuss Your Condition with Your Employer: Engaging in an open conversation about your ADHD with your employer can lead to support and reasonable accommodations that enhance your work performance. 
  • Use Tools and Technology to Stay Organised: Implement tools such as task management software, digital calendars, and reminder apps to help keep track of your responsibilities. These tools can reduce mental clutter and improve focus. 
  • Tackle Challenging Tasks During Peak Productivity: Identify the times when you are most alert and concentrate on demanding tasks during these periods to maximise efficiency. 
  • Arrange Your Workspace to Minimise Distractions: Customise your workspace to limit distractions by organising your desk, using noise-cancelling headphones, and positioning yourself away from busy areas. 

By adopting these strategies, you can better manage your ADHD at work, which not only helps in handling day-to-day tasks but also enhances overall job satisfaction and showcases your strengths. Remember, the goal is to create a supportive work environment tailored to your needs. 

Professional Help for ADHD Management for Adults 

Professional help is important for managing ADHD effectively. 

  • ADHD Testing, Assessment, Diagnosis, Report, Feedback: A comprehensive testing, assessment, report and feedback process with a trained experienced Clinical Psychologist or Clinical Neuropsychologist will enable you to understand if you have a diagnosis of ADHD and provide you with test results & a full report with lots of information, comparing your different brain functioning with that of people without ADHD. This report will provide detailed information on which brain functions are performing worse, are particular weaknesses specific to you, and require more help. It will also provide you with a treatment plan of how to address each of your weaknesses or problem areas.  
  • ADHD Psychological counselling/treatment: Provides the supportive space to help educate, guide, support and teach you to learn and apply new psychological skills, behavioural changes and strategies to deal with ADHD, your specific brain weaknesses, and accompanying mental health conditions (if untreated ADHD can lead to anxiety and depression). 
  • ADHD Medication: Stimulants, non-stimulants, and antidepressants can be used to help manage symptoms.  
  • ADHD Coaching and support groups: Can provide support and practical advice to manage daily challenges. 

How ST & A Psychology Can Help You 

At ST & A Psychology, we have experienced, trained, skilled Clinical Psychologists who have experienced and effectively managed/engaged in treatment for their own ADHD, and have also helped, supported and treated many adults with ADHD through ADHD treatment & ADHD Counselling. 

Our approach includes: 

  • Referral for Comprehensive testing, assessment, report & feedback to confirm the diagnosis of ADHD, and relative specific brain weaknesses/poorer functions. 
  • Personalised treatment plans that include psychological therapy, ADHD coaching, and lifestyle management. 
  • Ongoing support to adjust strategies and treatments as needed. 

 

 

Our Services 

ST & A Psychology offers a range of services to support individuals with ADHD: 

  • Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Mindfulness Based Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (MCBT), Acceptance and Committment Therapy (ACT), and, Compassion Ficussed Therapy (CFT) to learn new psychological skills, & help manage symptoms/reduce their impact. 
  • Skills training sessions & individual ADHD coaching that focus on time management, organisational skills, and stress management. 
  • Referral to Support groups. 
  • Consultations with medical professionals for referral for medication and medication management when necessary. 

Living with ADHD as an adult requires understanding and adjusting to many aspects of your life. With the right strategies and support, individuals with ADHD can lead successful and fulfilling lives. 

At ST & A psychologists in Manly we are committed to providing the guidance and tools necessary to manage this condition effectively. 

 

Principal Psychologist & Clinical Director

Simon Turmanis

At ST & A Psychology our psychologists are experienced in a wide-variety of areas, providing you with a broad range of coping skills and life strategies to assist you to better manage the challenges that life may be throwing your way.

View all posts by Simon Turmanis

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