I've just been diagnosed with ADHD at the age of 42. Am I too old to do anything about it? I've always thought ADHD was just about hyperactive kids and problems at school. I am wary of taking medication. So, what do I do now?
First, you've taken a big step forward in seeking out some answers for your challenges and getting an evaluation - so congrats on getting started on your treatment journey. ADHD diagnoses for adults have become more and more common. The latest research from The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) reveals that 4.4% of adults meet the criteria for ADHD. And thanks to the efforts of high-profile people with ADHD like Olympians Simone Biles and Michael Phelps, there’s less stigma associated with the diagnosis than ever before. Now that you're a person living with ADHD, rest assured knowing you’re not alone and that there are lots of options for getting the support you need.
Second - you are definitely not "too old" to see improvements in your life by managing your ADHD. We've worked with hundreds of adults from 18 to retirement age who have learned new habits through coaching and have seen their quality of life reach new heights. Don't let your age deter you from making the changes you deserve!
You mentioned feeling wary about medication, which is understandable. It might help to dig into why doctors prescribe medication for ADHD. Research shows that the ADHD brain has low activity levels of neurotransmitters like dopamine, which is one of the brain chemicals that helps you focus on tasks. Stimulant medications work to activate these underactive areas in your brain. Have a conversation with your doctor. For many people, the right medication and dosage can help them initiate and complete boring tasks in their everyday life. Whatever you decide is fine - we just suggest that being fully informed about the benefits and drawbacks of any treatment be part of your decision-making.
While medication provides a solid foundation for lots of adults with ADHD, here at WorkSmart Coaching we like to say, "Pills don't teach skills!" While medication sets the stage to make learning and applying new skills easier by turning on the brain’s ability to focus, therapy and coaching are two additional options to round out your needs for ADHD treatment. Therapy and Executive Function coaching work to address the negative behaviors and habits that you may have learned over time. While the two work together, they work in different ways.
Therapists help adjust negative patterns of thinking influenced by living with ADHD. Therapy can be a key component of your overall treatment plan, especially if you have self-esteem issues or co-existing mental health conditions.
Executive Function (EF) coaching teaches you how to organize, plan, prioritize, manage time, maintain focus, self-assess, and work more efficiently. To sum it up, coaching helps people with ADHD manage and improve their lives!
Here's a quick cheat sheet for your ADHD treatment options: Medication eases the severity of symptoms, therapy helps replace negative self-perceptions with healthy self-acceptance, and EF coaching strengthens core Executive Function skills by countering bad habits, and building confidence over time.
There's no right or wrong answer when it comes to managing your ADHD. Do what works best for you, and that just might be a combination of each option we mentioned!
For a detailed explanation of ADHD treatments with the insights of a board-certified psychiatrist, watch our short webinar here!