ADHD and the Adult Learner

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ADHD and the Adult Learner

Getting the Right Diagnosis and Treatment Sets You Up for Success in the Classroom and Beyond

Unlike their K-12 counterparts, college students and other adult learners may experience ADHD symptoms that are not so easy to spot. Perhaps as an adult, you’ve learned to hide your symptoms or have even developed coping mechanisms to endure everyday activities. Whether heading back to the classroom or into the office, with the right diagnosis and support, you can thrive with the challenges of ADHD and focus on successful learning and productivity. 

What Does Adult ADHD Look Like?

Signs and symptoms can vary from person to person and, just like children, adults can experience different types of ADHD. It’s important to identify and recognize the signs, especially for adult diagnosis. Often, the diagnostic criteria that helps identify ADHD in children are not the same for adults. Common symptoms associated with adult ADHD include: 

  • Trouble multitasking
  • Poor planning and/or poor time management
  • Difficulty controlling emotions, frequent mood swings, or a hot temper
  • Impulsiveness
  • Restlessness and/or highly energetic 
  • Problems following through and completing tasks
  • Trouble coping with stress

A proper diagnosis sets you on a path for successful treatment – and learning.

“While it’s not unusual to occasionally experience some signs of ADHD during adulthood, if symptoms are persistent and can be traced back to early childhood, or if symptoms cause ongoing disruptions in everyday activities, it may be time to seek help,” said Dr. Raafia Muhammad, Division Chief of Physicians. 

The first step is to seek a diagnosis. However, diagnosis in adults can be complicated. You may have worked hard to hide your symptoms or even struggled in silence. Be honest about the difficulties you are having, especially as a student. Know that a diagnosis will arm you with the ability to then treat the condition and not just cover up the symptoms. 

“Treatment for ADHD varies depending on severity of symptoms but once diagnosed, adults can improve many areas of their lives,” said Dr. Muhammad. “It’s also possible that an assessment for ADHD can uncover other coexisting conditions such as anxiety and depression, which can also be treated and managed.” 

With proper diagnosis, your health care provider can arm you with a treatment plan designed to help you thrive with your diagnosis. When it’s time to hit the books, having the right tools and resources can often improve ADHD symptoms and, more importantly, increase the attention and concentration needed to be a productive adult student. 

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