Newsletter #7: The Experiences of ADHDers Over 50, and Underdiagnosis in Women!

Happy May! Like every month, May is a month for adapting to life with ADHD. And like every month, here’s one interesting scientific study, one news article about ADHD, and one coping tip from ADaptHD.


Study of the Month: The Experiences of ADHDers Over 50

Researchers in Sweden have published the results of a study in which they interviewed ten adults over the age of 50 about their experiences living with ADHD.

As you might expect, these ADHDers reported a wide range of challenges that they faced in their daily lives. For example, the researchers found that “feelings of restlessness and lack of impulse control created problems in their social life” and that the ADHDers often reported struggling with “forgetfulness, uncontrollable racing thoughts, difficulties with time management and an inability to focus on tasks.”

The adults interviewed in the study reported sadness over having suffered for so many years without help or a good understanding of why or how to cope,” but also “a sense of relief” at finding “functional strategies” they could use to manage their symptoms.

Furthermore, the researchers identified several factors that seemed to help in coping with some of ADHD’s negative effects. For example, those with “creative work, challenging tasks, a work situation with changing locations, and late work hours seemed to have less work-related problems than others.” Similarly, “having an understanding family, friends who stayed no matter what, work with suitable structures, and coworkers who understood” all seemed to help.

Overall, the findings fit with the idea that ADHD has real consequences in people’s everyday lives but that the right combination of environment and coping strategies can make a difference. More conclusions and excerpts from some of the interviews are available in the recently published paper.


Article of the Month: Underdiagnosis and the Risks of ADHD in Girls and Women

An excellent article published in Discover Magazine this month highlights the impact of ADHD in girls and women, including a range of relevant scientific findings. The article points out some of the risks associated with ADHD symptoms and the fact that ADHD continues to be diagnosed and treated at lower rates in women than men. 

Stephen Henshaw, a psychology researcher interviewed in the article, summarizes some of his findings by posing a question that’s important for mental health researchers and advocates to address: “Who gets noticed as having ADHD?”


Coping Tip of the Month: Keep a Decision Diary

We are all constantly making decisions, whether those are big decisions related to our lives or careers, or little decisions about how we spend our time on a given day, what to have for breakfast, when to go to bed, and so on. Unfortunately, ADHD can sometimes throw a wrench into the decision-making process: impulsivity can lead to rushed decisions and not thinking things through, while lack of of planning and time management abilities can mean our decisions don’t work out the way we thought they would.

Whether decisions turn out to be good or bad, the most important thing we can do with them after the fact is learn from them. An exercise that can help with doing so is to keep a diary where you record decisions you’ve made, whether those are life-changing decisions, trivial ones, or spur-of-the-moment decisions you aren’t even aware you made until after the fact. Then go back later, and take note of how the decisions you recorded worked out. Look for patterns in which decisions turned out the way you wanted and which didn’t so you can recognize when you encounter similar situations in the future. 

Ultimately, the point of a decision diary is that building awareness of the decisions you’ve made in the past will give you more perspective for making decisions in the future — and more insight into how your ADHD symptoms might be affecting the decisions you make!


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Image: Flickr/byronv2

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