Adults with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder do not usually believe they have ADHD.  It may take a specific event to trigger their suspicions.

For example, the diagnosis of their child with ADHD, or seeking medical advice for other issues such as anxiety, depression or addiction.

Symptoms and Solutions

Most adults will have symptoms which began in childhood and continue to the present.  These may include distractibility, impulsivity and restlessness.  Once an adult is diagnosed with ADHD they can start to make sense of issues they may have suffered from for a long time.  The diagnosis may help them let go of bad feelings about themselves and improve low self-esteem.  It also may improve close relationships by giving themselves and others an explanation for their behaviors. Counseling or psychotherapy may help the ADHD adult process and deal with these issues.


Medical treatment for adult ADHD is similar to that for children — various stimulant drugs, such as Strattera (atomoxetine) can help.  Antidepressants, either in combination with or instead of stimulants, also may help. Those drugs which target the brain chemicals dopamine and norepinephrine are the most effective.  Drugs may include the older form of antidepressants known as the tricyclics or the newer drug Venlafaxine (Effexor).  Additionally, Bupropion (Wellbutrin) has proven effective in trials of adult ADHD.  In addition to medication, education and psychotherapy can help ADHD adults by providing them with a better understanding of their symptoms and teaching them techniques to counter the effects of ADHD.

A counselor can help the individual develop systems to reduce the stress of organizing day to day activities and responsibilities.  For instance, using organizational systems such as calendars, diaries, lists, notes and official locations for important items such as keys and wallets and establishing routines can provide a sense of order and achievement.
Psychotherapy can help the individual explore emotions related to ADHD, such as anger that the problem was not diagnosed earlier.  Psychotherapy can improve self-esteem through increasing self-awareness and compassion for themselves.  An effective counselor can support the individual during the changes brought about through medication and conscious efforts to alter behavior.

If you or someone you know may be suffering with adult ADHD, please request an appointment with an iTherapy counselor to discuss your concerns.

See Also

  • Self-Assessment