Patient Comments: Adult ADHD - Symptoms

What were your symptoms of adult ADHD and how was it diagnosed?

Comment from: EMM, 25-34 Female (Patient) Published: May 28

I am a teacher and a mother of 2 young girls. I was diagnosed with adult ADHD at age 27 after several years of counseling for anxiety and depression. I tried many medications for depression and anxiety, and then my therapist recommended that I tried Ritalin because much of my depression and anxiety seemed to stem from feelings of disorganization and being overwhelmed by everyday life. I tried Ritalin and I will never forget how it felt like I suddenly had a glimpse of how other people's minds work: I found it easier to prioritize so I could finally use all of the "to do" lists I had made all my life; I was less angry because I was less frustrated with myself all the time; I no longer felt like time was my ever-present enemy because it seemed like the clock had finally slowed down and allowed me to actually accomplish tasks; and most importantly it allowed me to do things for myself that had apparently taken a back burner to other thought impulses that normally stole all of my time and energy; it helped me to see that life is actually manageable, not some crazy race that I was perpetually losing. I was able to go off medication for a few years while I was pregnant and nursing my 2 kids, and I did fairly well with the strategies and insight that I had gained while on Ritalin; but I slowly started spiraling back out of control and recently have started to take Ritalin again. I was hesitant to find a new doctor because I had moved and I was so embarrassed to admit to anyone (especially to myself) that I had ADULT ADHD. My current doctor has really helped me to understand and accept it and I am now more willing to talk to others about it because it has improved my life so immensely. I am so thankful that my original therapist was open-minded enough to consider adult ADHD. I was very lucky and I hope there are more doctors out there who are willing to learn more about ADHD in adults.

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Comment from: hopefulstudent, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: May 13

Hello I was recently diagnosed with ADD while attending dental school. The overwhelming amount of material made it extremely difficult to concentrate and I am now working with a psychologist with Cognitive Training. Although helpful, I am still opting to take some form of medication. I am your non-traditional student so I have lived all my adult life not knowing I had this condition. I have six years of college prior to being accepted into dental school. I always had to study 24-7, I was told people with ADD can compensate, which I had done in college. It was not until I was having difficulty with keeping up with the vast amount of material did I realize the possibility of having ADD. I watched my three children struggle in college with this condition, once diagnosed and on medication, all three children's lives had changed for the better, they are successful and productive. Many people do not understand this condition, including myself until recently diagnosed. Now everything is clear in regards to my symptoms. I just wish my professors were as in tune with students and ADD. This could have a very negative and positive effect on the students and their goals to succeed.

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Comment from: JustMe, 55-64 Male (Patient) Published: December 15

I'm a classic case. Every symptom but (thank God) substance abuse. I don't pay attention unless I'm interested. If I try to focus, I am only focusing on my focusing, which doesn't help at all. I don't read fiction because I can't keep track of what's going on. Even while watching movies, I have to ask my wife to explain plot developments. I was clueless in grade school and high school. All the other kids would show up with some required, signed paper (they seemed to have gotten the memo) and I didn't even know what the paper was. I daydreamed nearly all day long. Despite being intelligent and creative, I have lagged all my life in areas of achievement. At 56, I'm working alongside 30-year-old peers. I have trouble following directions and I can't -- honestly can't -- keep up an attention span during business meetings. When someone asks me for input, I don't know what to say because I haven't been listening (very humiliating). I also hyperfocus: When I do develop an interest, I immerse myself in it wholly and develop expertise in a short span of time. My tolerance for frustration has always been abysmal. I don't know how other people manage to face frustrating stimuli and NOT curse, grumble and fly off the handle -- such a state of mind seems utterly unreachable. My self-esteem is poor, even at an age when I should have dealt with all my childhood demons. I'm unassertive most of the time and apologize constantly. I've struggled with anxiety, irrational fears, marriage problems and depression. Often I've hopped from job to job. During my 32 years of marriage, we've moved (sometimes cross-country) 14 times. Despite having a blessed life in general, I feel life is passing me by. I worry that when my time comes to a close, I will have terrible regrets about all I haven't done, despite being gifted on many levels. I'm haunted by Oliver Wendell Holmes' statement that most people go to the grave "with their music still in them." In short ... this problem is a drag.

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Comment from: tootie, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: October 07

My symptoms include severe anxiety, I tend to isolate myself when faced with issues and don't want to offend or challenge. I have started college 3 times and have yet to fininsh. I was diagnosed after my 2 youngest daughters were in 3rd and 4th grade, and weren't learning very well at school as well as basic life skills at home. So once the physician diagnosed them, I started to remember some of my childhood issues and how they affected how I never felt like I fit in anywhere or had a clue of what was really going on. Even after medication, I finished my first quarter of college as a medical assistant with a GPA of 3.57 but couldn't handle all the pressures of being a mom, wife, student and was so focused on studies that everything else was falling to the way side. So I took a leave. I felt like I was about to have a nervous breakdown, which wouldn't be the first time. I am very smart and literate but stink at math. I am very creative but seem to get so close to finishing a project. When painting for example, I will decide why finish? I think by the time I'm almost done, I've already decided that I want a new style or color so why finish that top corner anyway? I am highly disfunctional and the meds seem to intensify my concentration which doesn't help much if I'm concentrating so much on one task that nothing else gets done. Organization is a huge issue. I do not work, I could get hired for alot of jobs but then there would be expectations and I would have to deal with the pressure of always living up to them. Hard to cope with the fact that I have never finished anything as far as self worth goes, and maybe even am bipolar and undiscovered because I avoid situations that set me off.

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