If you have just been diagnosed with ADHD as an adult, you might be wondering what to do next. The following are ten things to do after a diagnosis of adult ADHD.
Many people worry about whether to start medication for ADHD. They are concerned that the medication is addictive or dangerous. Stimulant medications for ADHD, such as Adderall, Ritalin, Concerta or Vyvanse can help to reduce symptoms. They are widely prescribed and have been found to be safe and effective when used as directed. There can be side effects, such as insomnia, loss of appetite, headache, stomach upset and dry mouth. Talk to your doctor about the pros and cons of these medications.
Learn about ADHD
Understanding how the symptoms of ADHD show up in adults can help you come up with strategies for your everyday life. Reading information about ADHD also reminds you that you are not alone - there are millions of adults with ADHD who are struggling with symptoms everyday.
Create a support network
Family and friends are important, especially as you adjust to the new diagnosis and what it means for your life. Surround yourself with those people who will be supportive and accepting. You might also consider looking for a support group - either in-person or online - so you can talk with others who are in similar situations.
Therapists can work with you on developing strategies, social skills and coping with the daily struggles your ADHD symptoms cause. As a recently diagnosed adult, you might look back at your life and realize that ADHD played a part in lost jobs and failed relationships. Your therapist can help you work through self-esteem issues and devise strategies to use going forward. Some people opt for cognitive behavioral therapy which focuses on changing negative thought patterns.
Make lifestyle changes
Even if you decide to try medication, it is important to remember that alone doesn’t cure or eliminate ADHD symptoms - it reduces them and makes them more manageable. It is still important to use strategies such as adding exercise to your daily routine.
Identify which symptoms are most troublesome for you
Symptoms of ADHD can show up differently. One person might find inattention and distractibility to be the most troublesome in their life. Others might find that impulsiveness has caused the most problems. Once you figure out what is most interfering with your life, you can create strategies to manage that symptom first.
Create organizational structure
One of the most common complaint of adults with ADHD is their disorganized life. They might continuously lose their keys or cell phone. They might always run late. Create systems to help you stay organized, such as making a place to put your keys and cell phone as soon as you walk in the door or using to-do lists as a way to stay on track. If you have a hard time creating organization systems, enlist the help of a friend, talk to others with ADHD about what they found worked or work with an ADHD coach.
Be prepared for problems
Once you start learning about ADHD, you might suddenly realize why you have problems in certain areas, such as disorganization, keeping still without fidgeting or having trouble communicating. Think about where these symptoms interfere with your life and work to find solutions, for example, you might start taking notes in meetings to keep yourself busy or ask your partner to have important discussions in a distraction free area of the house. Thinking ahead about potential problems can help you solve them before they blossom into disasters.
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Eileen Bailey is a freelance health writer. She is the author of What Went Right: Reframe Your Thinking for a Happier Now, Idiot’s Guide to Adult ADHD, Idiot’s Guide to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Essential Guide to Overcoming Obsessive Love, and Essential Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome. She can be found on Twitter @eileenmbailey and on Facebook at eileenmbailey.