ADHD In ADULTS

ADHD In ADULTS

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is often thought to primarily affect children. However, adults can also have ADHD. Adults with ADHD may have different symptoms than what is commonly seen in children. This can make it hard for adults with ADHD to receive a proper diagnosis and appropriate treatment. If left untreated, ADHD can have a negative impact on an your ability to function effectively. This article considers some symptoms of ADHD commonly seen in adults.

What Is ADHD

ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder commonly diagnosed in children. Children with ADHD have trouble with impulse control, organization, and focus. While the exact cause of ADHD is unknown, there appears to be a hereditary component. ADHD is thought to impair the executive functions of the brain. The three types of ADHD include, hyperactive-impulsive type, inattentive type (formerly known as ADD), and combined type. In the hyperactive-impulsive type of ADHD, there is little impulse control and there is a lot of fidgeting, talking, interrupting, and impatience. The inattentive type is characterized by forgetfulness, lack of follow through, and being easily distracted. Those who have the combined type of ADHD experience a combination of symptoms related to both the hyperactive-impulsive type and the inattentive type. ADHD impacts around 11% of children and 5% of adults. Although ADHD is primarily diagnosed in childhood, adults that never received a diagnosis can also be impacted.

ADHD In Adults

ADHD childhood symptoms can continue into adulthood and can have a negative impact on your ability to function effectively. It is also possible for adults to receive an initial ADHD diagnosis after the age of 18. Those who experience the inattentive type of ADHD might not have received a diagnosis in childhood, as their symptoms were not as disruptive to others. ADHD in adults can cause problems in your work life, relationships, and health. Adults with ADHD are more likely to experience other mental health disorders, such as bipolar disorder, or depression. In fact, about half of all adults with ADHD also experience an anxiety disorder. If you have ADHD as an adult, your symptoms might present differently than they do in children. Recognizing the symptoms of ADHD in adults can help you get proper treatment so the symptoms don’t have a negative impact on your functioning.

Impulsiveness

Impulsivity can be an issue for adults with ADHD. You may have trouble waiting in line, waiting your turn to speak, or even driving safely. Mood swings can be common and it can be difficult to control emotional outbursts. Spending money on a whim, engaging in risky behavior, and impatience can cause problems in your relationships. Impulsivity can include coming up with unusual ideas, needing to talk out loud, and saying whatever comes to mind whether or not it is appropriate.

Time Management Issues

Adults with ADHD struggle to manage their time effectively. This can cause issues with others if you are constantly late, or forgetful. It may be difficult for you to organize your schedule. You may be forgetful and have trouble remembering things that you need to do when you really don’t want to do them. You might misplace important items, such as your car keys or phone, which can cause you to be late to meetings. Time management issues can have a negative impact on your work life and your relationships.

Trouble Focusing

A lack of focus can be a problem for adults with ADHD. Tasks that are boring, or no longer interesting can be very hard to complete. There may be a number of projects around the house, or even at work that are only partially completed. It may be hard to listen to others in conversations and pay attention to details. Trouble focusing in adults with ADHD includes difficulty sustaining attention and being easily distracted. This can lead to problems on the job and with the important people in your life.

Hyperfocusing

Along with a lack of focus, hyperfocusing can also be a symptom of adult ADHD. Hyperfocus, or intensely concentrating on something so deeply that you ignore or fail to notice anything else, is also related to ADHD. When you hyperfocus, it is easy to lose track of time and others around you. This may be helpful in certain work environments. However, it is often problematic in relationships as those close to you might feel like they are not a priority in your life.

Restlessness

Restlessness can be a symptom of ADHD in adults. Like children, some adults with ADHD can have trouble being still. You may feel constantly keyed up and always want to be moving. This can lead to a lot of frustrations when you work a desk job. Fidgeting, getting up frequently, and engaging in some form of physical activity can help with restlessness. If your thoughts are also restless, you may experience anxiety as well.

Work Issues

ADHD can have a negative impact on your job. It could be hard for you to complete certain tasks. You may have difficulty remembering to attend meetings, or be on time to work events. It could be difficult to sustain interest in the job you are doing and you might impulsively quit. Some of the symptoms of ADHD can make your work life very stressful. It is not uncommon for adults with untreated ADHD to have trouble keeping a job.

Health Problems

Adults with ADHD can suffer from health problems. Mental health issues, such as anxiety and depression are common in adults with ADHD. Forgetting to take prescribed medication, neglecting to schedule doctor’s visits, and ignoring minor health issues can occur with ADHD. Sleep disturbances and poor eating and exercise habits can also be seen in adults with ADHD.

Relationship Issues

Relationship struggles can also occur in adults with ADHD. Problems can be noticed in friendships, work relationships, romantic relationships, and with family members. Due to the symptoms of ADHD, you might be seen as insensitive, irresponsible, or uncaring. Others may view you as unreliable and inconsistent, which can take a toll on your relationships. It can sometimes be difficult to engage in and maintain close relationships because of your ADHD symptoms.

If you experience several of these symptoms and it is impacting your ability to function effectively, help is available. After receiving a diagnosis, a combination of medication and cognitive behavioral therapy can help you successfully manage symptoms of ADHD. This can improve your health, work, relationships, and overall emotional well-being.

5 Ways To Stop Catastrophizing

5 Ways To Stop Catastrophizing

Everyone gets caught up in worst-case scenario thinking, or catastrophizing at times. However, when you catastrophize, you reinforce the negative and this can become your normal way of thinking about the future. This can lead to anxiety and depression as you become caught up in a negative thought spiral always asssuming the worst. In order to decrease symptoms of depression and anxiety and start feeling better, you need to stop catastrophizing. Below are 5 ways you can stop catastrophizing so you can start feeling better about the future.

What Is Catastrophizing 

Catastrophizing is a cognitive distortion, an unrealistic, unconscious way of thinking that reinforces the negative. It is when you imagine the worst-case scenario is the most likely outcome of a situation. One way of doing this is by taking a current situation that didn’t go the way you planned and believing that it will end in disaster. For instance, your work presentation didn’t go well so you imagine getting fired and ending up homeless. Even though this is a very unlikely scenario, your imagination takes over and you begin to believe this will happen. Catastrophizing also occurs when you think about your future and imagine all the ways things can go wrong. This creates a pessimistic outlook and possibly even a self-fulfilling prophecy of failure and a future of doom and gloom.

Why You Catastrophize

As a thinking being, you are able to remember past events and imagine future possibilities. This can be a good thing as it enables you to utilize your past to help you achieve your goals and plan for the future. However, this can also be problematic as it can lead to catastrophizing. You may believe that thinking about the worst-case scenario helps you prepare for it. Catastrophizing can even be a learned behavior as you witnessed your parents doing this and adopted it for yourself. It is related to anxiety disorders and even posttraumatic stress disorder. When you catastrophize, your brain releases cortisol and your amygdala (fight, flight, or freeze response) reacts to the danger that you are creating. While you may catastrophize initially to try and make yourself feel better, it actually causes you to feel worse. You reinforce the fear and helplessness you feel related to negative thoughts and end up feeling hopeless. If you notice yourself catastrophizing, there are things you can do to help.

1. Feel Your Feelings

Catastrophizing keeps the focus on the future instead of the present. This stops you from feeling your current emotions. Instead of working through your feelings, catastrophizing lets you avoid them. Although this may seem helpful at first, avoiding your emotions intensifies them and can lead to feeling additional negative emotions. In order to lessen the emotional impact of difficult feelings, you need to feel them so you can process them. Spend some time everyday identifying and feeling your feelings. When you are able to process your feelings, catastrophizing can significantly decrease.

2. Write It Down

If you keep ruminating on the worst-case outcome, writing it down can help. Writing down what you are catastrophizing can stop you from constantly thinking about it. Putting it down on paper engages the left hemisphere of your brain which can help you view the situation more logically. As you reread what you wrote, you can look at it more objectively. Doing this enables you to alter it so that it becomes more realistic. Instead of accepting your catastrophizing as the absolute truth, you can begin to notice the flaws in your thought process.

3. Practice Mindfulness

Practicing mindfulness can stop you from focusing on the imagined problematic outcome. When you are being mindful, you are fully present in the here and now without judging it. Catastrophizing is future oriented. It requires you to focus on an imagined future. In order to stay in the present moment, you can engage all of your senses and ground yourself in the present moment. You can look around you and name 5 things you see, 4 things you can touch, 3 things you can hear, 2 things you can smell, and 1 thing you can taste. Noticing your breath, breathing from your diaphragm, or meditating are other ways you can practice mindfulness. As you become more mindful, catastrophizing will decrease.

4. Follow It Through

Sometimes, following a catastrophic thought all the way through can be helpful. By following it all the way through, you can end up going beyond the feared outcome to ways that you can cope with it. Doing this can help calm your anxiety. This enables you to notice some of the things that are within your control. If you follow it through, you may also begin to notice the flaws in assuming the worst. Then you can begin to look at the situation more realistically.

5. Reframe

Reframing your negative thoughts can help you stop catastrophizing. In order to reframe your thoughts, you have to pay attention to your negative thinking patterns. When you catch yourself catastrophizing, challenge these thoughts. Come up with at least three other ways of thinking about the situation. Doing this causes your brain to start considering other possibilities that aren’t as negative. Then you can replace the worst-case outcome with something more positive. Reframing your thoughts also changes the feelings associated with your thoughts. This can help you feel more optimistic and hopeful about your future.

If you notice yourself catastrophizing, you can try the above tips. As you start taking control of your thoughts, feelings of anxiety and hopelessness can improve. However, if catastrophizing is having a negative impact on your emotional well-being and functioning, therapy can help. With practice, you can learn how to stop catastrophizing so you can have more hope for the future.

How To Stop A Negative Thought Loop

How To Stop A Negative Thought Loop

Being stuck in a negative thought loop can take a toll on your mental health. It can cause you to lose sleep and may increase symptoms of anxiety and depression. Sometimes, the more you try to will yourself to stop thinking, the stronger the negative thoughts become. Stopping the negative thought loop may not be easy, but it can be done.

What Is A Negative Thought Loop

A negative thought loop occurs when you think about something troubling or distressing over and over again and you can’t let it go. It could be something you said or did that you deeply regret, or something that was said or done to you, or something future or past oriented. As you ruminate on what occurred, you feel the feelings related to it. This can lead to symptoms of anxiety and depression when you can’t let go of the thoughts. Although some self-introspection is quite helpful and healthy, negative thought loops are not. This is because your brain can’t easily distinguish between what is actually happening and what you are telling it is happening. When you focus on repetitive negative thoughts, you begin to judge yourself negatively as well.

Why Try To Stop It

Since you are a thinking being, negative thoughts will occur. However, when you get stuck in a thought loop that you can’t get out of, distressing feelings can increase and your mental health can suffer. You can have trouble sleeping and become easily agitated. It can even begin to change your world view and sense of safety. When you are stuck in a negative thought loop, it can impact your sense of self. Instead of your thoughts being about what happened, it can turn into being about what is inherently wrong with you. How you are not good enough and what a horrible person you are. When this happens, the negative thought loop reinforces the negative self-beliefs which can lead to unwanted behaviors. However, there are some things you can try to stop the negative thought loop.

Write It Down

Write the thought loop down on paper. The act of forming letters engages the logical side of your brain. This helps get you out of the imaginative side of your brain where you can catastrophize a situation and make it much worse than the reality. Sometimes just writing it down is enough to stop the thought loop. If not, you can read over what you wrote and check it for accuracy. If it is not accurate, or if you can think of other ways to look at it, write those down as well. Writing down your negative thought loop can help you look at it more objectively.

Feel Your Feelings

In order to stop a negative thought loop, you will need to feel the feelings associated with the thought. While it is normal to want to avoid uncomfortable feelings, you can’t fully process them until you feel them. When you ignore the feelings that come up related to the thought loop, the thought loop can actually become stronger. There is nothing wrong with your feelings and you can feel anything you need to feel. You can set aside a set amount of time everyday where you spend 10 or 15 minutes feeling your feelings. This way you allow your feelings to be experienced so they can be processed. Once you process your feelings, your thought loop might stop.

Practice Thought Stopping Techniques

As you develop the habit of feeling the feelings related to your negative thought loop, you will want to practice thought stopping techniques if the thought loop continues, or comes up during other times of the day. This can be done in several different ways. You can engage in an activity that helps distract you from your thoughts. This can include exercising, reading a book, or doing crafts. You could repeat a mantra over and over again to help drown out your thoughts. A visualization technique such as picturing a stop sign and reminding yourself that you have to think of this tomorrow can also stop the negative thought loop. When you have a set time everyday to feel your feelings and focus on your thoughts, it can make it easier to use thought stopping techniques at other times.

Self-Soothe

Accept your thoughts for what they are. A thought is just a thought and you can have a thought without attaching to it or making it bigger than it needs to be. Allow your thoughts to be and practice self-soothing. Focus on your breathing while you let your thoughts come and go without judgment. Go for a walk, talk to a friend, take a bath, or find something you can do that helps distract you from your thoughts. Be gentle and kind with yourself and with your thoughts. Use the emotional freedom technique (EFT) to help you calm down and accept yourself, no matter what your thoughts are.

Reframe

Reframe your thoughts to help you get out of the negative thought loop. To reframe your thoughts, check them for accuracy and consider other ways to think about it. If they are not very accurate and you are instead catastrophizing, change them to something more accurate. If they seem true, come up with another way to say it that is still accurate, but also kind. For example, instead of saying I made a mistake becuase I’m stupid, change it. Instead you could say something like I made a mistake because I overlooked something and I can look at things more carefully going forward. You can also observe your thoughts as if you are a third party and they are not about you and think of what you would say to this other person. Reframing your thoughts can help you accept the situation so you can let the thoughts go.

Practice Gratitude

When you practice gratitude you look for the good and the way things went well, instead of focusing on the negative. The more you practice this the easier it becomes for your brain to search for the good. Thinking about what you are grateful for can help you feel better about things. Keep a gratitude journal and notice all of the things you are thankful for. If you get stuck in a negative thought loop, your thoughts will more naturally shift to the good things when you make gratitude a daily practice. 

When you find yourself stuck in a negative thought loop, you can try the above tips. If you continue to struggle with negative thought loops that are impacting your emotional well-being, therapy can help. With practice, you can learn to stop your negative thought loops so they do not take over your life.

Emotional Freedom Technique

Emotional Freedom Technique

With everything going on in the world today, many people are struggling with anxiety. Some of the coping skills used successfully in the past to help you calm down can be more challenging these days. Because of this, you may need to find other tools you can use to help you relax. The Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) is an easy to learn skill that you can use to help alleviate symptoms of anxiety. Read on to learn more about EFT.

What Is EFT

EFT, also known as tapping or psychological acupressure, is a technique used to help calm the central nervous system and release uncomfortable emotions. EFT relies on Eastern Medicine and the use of acupressure points commonly used in acupuncture. By using your fingertips to tap on these acupressure points, also known as meridian points, symptoms of anxiety and feelings of panic can significantly decrease. According to the developer of EFT, Gary Craig, using affirmations while tapping on meridian points can help you release distressing or unwanted feelings. 

How Does EFT Work

EFT is based on the brain body connection and the energy system related to the meridian points used in acupuncture. Although it is not known exactly how it works, EFT is thought to balance and restore the energy system and release negative emotions that become stuck and block the flow of energy. Once the blockage is released, through tapping on the meridian points, energy can flow freely again. EFT helps calm down the overactive central nervous system by engaging the parasympathetic nervous system which enables you to rest and relax. The affirmations used in EFT accepts your current uncomfortable feeling while allowing you to move towards a more comfortable emotional state.

What Does EFT Help

EFT has been widely studied and found to be beneficial in reducing symptoms of anxiety and stress. There is some evidence suggesting EFT can be used to decrease symptoms of PTSD as well. EFT may also be effective in reducing pain and helping those struggling with addiction. It can be used to help decrease symptoms of depression and insomnia. It can also be used to help improve athletic performance. While it is not known exactly how EFT works, its efficacy is well documented.

The EFT Procedure

The EFT procedure is very easy to learn and practice as a form of self-help. It is especially effective in working with feelings of anxiety. To practice EFT on your own, you will want to use a statement that acknowledges what the issue is along with acceptance and how else you could feel. You will then need to identify the meridian points that you will use your fingers to tap on. After tapping, you can assess your level of distress to see if it has decreased. Repeat the procedure as needed.

The Statement

Notice what is going on for you and what you would like to address or alter. Form a statement that acknowledges the issue and then state how you could feel with acceptance. For instance, you can say something like, even though I am anxious, I know I can be calm, or Even though I experience anxiety, I accept myself completely. You say your statement out loud as you begin tapping.

Tapping

Next, use your index and middle fingers to tap on your meridian points 5 to 7 times on each point. The first meridian point is located on the start of your eyebrow above your nose. The next point is on the outer side of the eye below the eyebrows. Under the eyes is the next point. Then under the nose. This is followed by the one on the space between your lower lip and chin. The next point is 2 inches down from your collarbone and is often tender when you get the right spot. You will find the next point under your arm about 4 inches down. The top of your head in the middle is the next spot. Tap lightly on these points and say your statement out loud. Complete this sequence a few times, or until you notice a decrease in your level of distress.

EFT is an effective tool to use to help decrease symptoms of anxiety. If you continue to struggle with symptoms of anxiety that is having a negative impact on your emotional well-being, therapy can help. The next time you are feeling anxious, give EFT a try.

Autism Spectrum Disorder In Adults

Autism Spectrum Disorder In Adults

Most people have heard of autism in children and the behavioral and social challenges related to it. However, autism can also be diagnosed in adults. Autism is considered a spectrum disorder that includes those with severe symptoms that are unable to care for themselves. It also includes those who are high-functioning and have few noticeable symptoms. High-functioning autism can still have a negative impact on your relationships and emotional well-being. If you are an adult that thinks you might have autism, help is available.

What Is ASD 

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a developmental disorder that mainly impacts speech, behavior, and social skills. ASD is a spectrum disorder that includes those with extreme speech delays and impairment in social functioning. As well as those who are high-functioning and only experience minimal difficulty in their social lives. Most people show signs of ASD by the age of two. Either by delayed development, or developing normally but then losing skills. Some were not diagnosed as children due to the wide range of ASD symptoms and poor screening. Instead, those with symptoms that were not diagnosed as a child are being diagnosed with ASD as an adult.

Symptoms Of ASD In Adults

ASD is a spectrum disorder that has a wide range of behaviors associated with it. While children who experience symptoms that interfere with their ability to function normally are likely to be diagnosed early. Those who experience milder symptoms and are highly intelligent, but lack appropriate social skills may not be diagnosed then. They usually meet the criteria for what used to be called Asperger’s syndrome. These people may not receive a diagnosis until they are an adult and they struggle in their close relationships. Symptoms in adults with ASD include, repetitive behaviors, following a strict routine, and being uncomfortable with change. Having either too much or too little eye contact is common. It also includes social difficulties, sensory issues, and struggles with empathy, body language, and social cues. People with ASD often experience an exaggerated emotional response.

Impact Of ASD

ASD can impact all aspects of life. While education and work are somewhat affected, relationships are often a big struggle for those with ASD. Developing and maintaining interpersonal relationships can be very difficult when you have ASD. Because of sensory issues, certain environments can be overwhelming for someone with ASD. It can be difficult to socialize and you may turn to drugs or alcohol to make things more comfortable. It is also possible to give up all together and instead ignore others and turn to solitary activities. Once in a committed relationship, it can be hard to understand social cues, body language, and indirect communication. This can cause a lot of problems in your ability to connect with your partner. You could struggle to make friends. It might be difficult to respond appropriately to a loved one’s distress, which can have a negative impact on your relationships.

Diagnosing ASD In Adults

A diagnosis of ASD in adulthood can be a relief, or quite a shock. You may initially seek out a diagnosis at the urging of someone you are close to. Getting a diagnosis of ASD as an adult can be challenging. Even though it may not be easy, receiving a diagnosis of ASD can be useful. It can open up services that can help you better manage some of the symptoms of ASD. Especially those symptoms that are interfering with your ability to function effectively. Although there is no established criteria for diagnosing ASD in adults, an autism center is a good place to start. They may be able to provide you with the resources you need to get a diagnosis. Developmental pediatricians, psychologists, child psychiatrists, or pediatric neurologists that diagnose ASD in children might work with adults as well.

Help For ASD In Adults

Once you receive a diagnosis of ASD, there are some services you could qualify for that might be helpful. Support groups for adults with ASD can enable you to connect with others that understand. They can share tips that they find helpful that could be beneficial to you as well. Treatment for adults with ASD is a little different from treatment for children with ASD. The focus is more on learning strategies for areas of struggle. Since anxiety can be an issue for adults with ASD, individual therapy can help with this. Couples counseling and family therapy can help strengthen your relationships and allow you to work through any trouble spots. Learning about ASD and how it could impact your life and relationships can help you gain new insight. You can also learn new ways to manage your symptoms.

If you believe you might fit the criteria for an ASD diagnosis, you should talk to your doctor or therapist. Receiving a diagnosis might be difficult, but it can also get you the help you need. Proper help can give you the tools to strengthen your relationships and improve your mental health and emotional well-being.

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