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Recently Diagnosed with Adult ADHD? Here are Your Next Steps

adult woman suffering from adhd
By LifeStance Health on February 28, 2022

This content has been updated from previous article on September 17, 2020.

Reports have shown a rise in the initial diagnosis of Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) cases in adults.

At a closer look, it appears the reason for these additional diagnoses could be attributed to the following:

  • Lack of diagnosis in adults when they were children due to stigma
  • Increased awareness and knowledge of ADHD
  • A better understanding of ADHD in the mental health community
  • More acceptance of mental health treatment in general

It is reported that between 4-5% of adults are living with ADHD in the US, however few adults have been diagnosed or treated for the condition. Receiving a diagnosis for ADHD as an adult can be very overwhelming. It is normal to feel uncertain about what your next steps should be and where you should start. But don’t worry, we have some helpful tips from the LifeStance Health providers who diagnose and treat adults with ADHD to help provide you with the insight you to need to move forward after being diagnosed with ADHD.

Your Emotions Are Valid

Receiving any diagnosis can bring on a flood of feelings. As you work through what ADHD means for your past and future, be sure to connect to each of the emotions that come up, even if they seem contradictory. “A diagnosis of ADHD as an adult may come with mixed emotions—relief that arises from knowledge and grief associated with missed past opportunities,” psychologist Noreen Donovan, Ph.D. explained. “It is important to tune into and accept all of these feelings.” You don’t have to cope with these emotions alone. Many different types of professionals can help you along the way.

There Are Many Adult ADHD Treatment Options

While there is not a cure for ADHD, many effective adult ADHD treatment options are available. Managing the most intrusive adult ADHD symptoms without stifling your unique personality is possible with the help of the right care plan. “It is recommended that adults talk to a professional about their treatment options,” Donovan sad. “This includes adult ADHD medication to treat ADHD symptoms in adults, coaching to support executive functioning, and therapy to address common psychological distress including increased stress, anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, and underachievement.”

ADHD Medication May Be The Answer

“After a diagnosis of ADHD, the next step would be a trial of ADHD medication (unless medically contraindicated),” psychologist Kenneth Wilson, Psy.D. said.

There are a few different types of mediations. Stimulants are the first-line treatment option for people with ADHD.  WebMD reports that stimulant medications work for 70% to 80% of people.  These medications allow people with ADHD to focus and quell hyperactivity. Some non-stimulant medications are also approved for ADHD treatment. A psychiatrist or psychiatric advanced nurse practitioner can help you determine what, if any, medication is right for you. Ultimately, it is up to you to decide whether medication works as part of your treatment plan.

Work With a Therapist or ADHD Coach

Having adequate support while you navigate ADHD is crucial. Whether you decide to take medication or not, talking to a therapist can be an important part of your treatment plan. These professionals can help you cope with the emotions of being diagnosed while helping you learn how to control impulses, and more. “A therapist or coach could help an individual with ADHD focus on executive functioning strategies that can target organizational skills and help them understand any barriers that have gotten in the way thus far,” psychologist Emily Hotz, Psy.D. explained. “A professional can also help adults with ADHD think about impulsive behavior and learn how to slow down before making rash decisions.”

One of the most successful ways people have managed their adult ADHD is by understanding your mind and finding ways to work with it. Several tips and tricks can help you cope with some of the frustrating symptoms of ADHD. For example, Hotz recommends using a planner for at least eight months to build a habit and routine. “Taking breaks when attention wanes and trying to engage with things in a hands-on manner can be helpful for individuals with ADHD,” Hotz also suggested. You can also find tips in online support groups and ADHD organizations. Some people find certain apps helpful. For example, Tody is an app that is specialized in helping you organize your to-do lists and providing you with a visual of what needs to be done in your household and when.

Create a Positive Conversation Around ADHD

While most people understand that ADHD can cause unpleasant and frustrating symptoms, there are many ways to manage and navigate it with the right care.

“Some people view it as a superpower, allowing them to multitask much easier than others,” Hotz said. “It does not have to be limiting, successful people are able to focus on their strengths to work around their weaknesses.”

“It is important to celebrate the strengths many adults with ADHD share, and among them are a tendency toward creative, ‘out-of-the-box’ thinking and inherent hyper-focus abilities when involved in novel, engaging activities,” Donovan elaborated.

This can be a difficult time for anyone. However, you do not have to navigate it alone. Make an appointment today with one of our expert providers and take the next step toward a more balanced future.