Photo: Nenad Stojkovic

Health & wellbeing

Many adults grappling with symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) only seek professional help later in life. Delayed diagnosis often stems from the fact that the typical signs of ADHD, particularly hyperactivity, are less prevalent in adults. However, beneath a seemingly composed exterior, individuals can be wrestling with considerable internal challenges.

"Perhaps the most well-known and visible symptom of ADHD is hyperactivity, which is less common in adults.

In calm-looking adults, ADHD might not be apparent, but beneath the surface, there's turmoil. The inner restlessness often goes unnoticed," explains Dr. Sami Leppämäki, a specialist in psychiatry and psychotherapy at Terveystalo.

Untreated ADHD can lead to various life struggles, prompting individuals to seek external support.

"Behind someone who appears to be coping, there might be significant difficulties. Many adults have sought treatment due to constant mental restlessness, often resulting in anxiety. There are patients who have been in psychotherapy for a long time and have learned to manage anxiety very well, yet something persists that they can't grasp," adds Dr. Leppämäki.

One hurdle in seeking treatment could be the collapse of an individual's coping abilities in adulthood due to major life changes.

"Even if the symptoms have been present since childhood, they can manifest differently in adulthood, especially during significant life changes such as moving out, starting a family, or increased responsibilities due to a job promotion. Changes in circumstances and disruptions to familiar routines can add stress and lead to a complete collapse of coping abilities," describes Dr. Leppämäki.

However, there is hope and help available even for those struggling with untreated ADHD. Here are some ways to cope and manage the disorder in adulthood:

  1. Diagnosis: Having a confirmed diagnosis can be a relief and the starting point for making positive changes. Understanding oneself better allows for self-compassion and acceptance.

  2. Action Plan: Collaborate with a professional to identify specific problems and areas in life where these challenges manifest. Develop a plan to address them effectively.

  3. Medication: While it doesn't cure ADHD, medication can aid individuals in helping themselves. It can provide a push in the right direction.

  4. Psychotherapy: Therapy, often targeted at ADHD-related symptoms like depression or anxiety, can be incredibly beneficial.

  5. Occupational Therapy: Work with a neuropsychiatric coach to explore and practice alternative strategies for various difficulties.

  6. Lifestyle Changes: Mundane as it sounds, sleep, exercise, and nutrition are the keys to a good life. Maintaining routines becomes easier after initiating treatment.

Understanding the complexities of adult ADHD and addressing it with the right support can lead to significant improvements in one's quality of life, fostering resilience and well-being.