Living with ADHD: Everything You Need to Know About Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

If you’re struggling with adult ADHD, look to these books and courses for advice on how to cope.
by Uptime Staff / 2022-01-11

ADHD, otherwise known as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, isn’t a disease that just affects children. It also affects adults and teens, and often it becomes more difficult to manage specifically because it’s gone untreated. ADHD symptoms can often be mistaken for normal signs of burnout or distraction, and may go undiagnosed by the NHS or other health care services. 

What is ADHD? 

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is a chronic condition involving attention difficulty, hyperactivity, and difficulty with impulse control. It’s a close relative of attention deficit disorder, otherwise known as ADD, but the two conditions have important differences in terms of how they’re managed. ADHD in adults is often ignored because the cultural impact of the hyperactivite trait is so focused on cases in children. Many people who have high functioning ADHD do not even realise that they are suffering. 

ADHD in women

ADHD in women is often ignored because the disorder is so focused on young boys. But mental health is complex and often symptoms of other disorders are also symptoms for ADHD. For instance, anxiety, depression, and ADD, can all co-present with ADHD, and women get lumped in with other categories of mental illness instead of having their ADHD treated. Books like A Radical Guide for Women with ADHD can help you begin your journey. 

Different types of ADHD treatments are varied and sometimes hard to access. Luckily, here at Uptime, we have a variety of Knowledge Hacks for you to help start your journey of living with untreated ADHD. Though official treatment can only be given through a medical professional, these resources can help you figure out if you need professional help and give you tips and advice for managing your condition through self help along the way. 

Famous historical figures with ADHD

Sometimes, it can help to know that some of the most famous figures from the past struggled with the same difficulties we do today; this knowledge can be either a source of comfort or even inspiration. Those with ADHD can be some of the most creative and intelligent people out there; exceptionally good at thinking 'outside of the box', and finding answers to problems where others aren't able to. In fact, there are many examples of famous and successful people who have ADHD. Here is a quick list of a few famous people with ADHD:

  • Abraham Lincoln
  • Thomas Edison
  • F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • Leonardo da Vinci
  • Pablo Picasso
  • Auguste Rodin
  • Babe Ruth
  • Vincent Van Gogh
Celebrities with ADHD

ADHD is much more common than you think, and it affects many people you see in the news and headlines today, too. The following have spoken publicly about their experiences with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder:

  • Richard Branson
  • Simone Biles
  • Stevie Wonder
  • Dave Grohl
  • Solange Knowles
  • Michael Phelps
  • Jim Carrey

ADHD 2.0 - Edward M. Hallowell and John J. Ratey

On Uptime

Psychiatrists Edward M. Hallowell and John J. Ratey tackle the trials of ADHD for the modern person. Discussing both the positive and negative symptoms, they also delve into the brain connections that cause the condition, and how to seek treatment. Both psychiatrists have ADHD themselves, so they are very experienced with managing it. 

Our main takeaways:

- Though ADHD is a mental health condition, there are blessings that can come alongside the struggles.

Every individual is different and their cases present with both pros and cons. Some people with ADHD can become hyper focused alongside periods of being unfocused; they may present with disinterest, or overexcitement.

Adults especially tend to learn to control their 'negative' symptoms. For example, if you experience symptoms of ADHD, you can learn to structure your bursts of hyperactivity into productivity. Tools like schedules, alarms, and to-do lists can help you manage your symptoms and see your ADHD as a conduit for creativity instead of a burden. 

- The cerebellum in the brain is the root cause of many of the problems associated with ADHD.

Located at the base of the brain, the cerebellum contains 75% of the brain’s neurons and helps direct motor commands and balanced movements. When the cerebellum is dysfunctional, it can also affect our emotional stability. The vermis is the part of the brain that connects the two lobes of the cerebellum, and people with ADHD are shown to have a smaller vermis, or a looser connection between the two parts of the cerebellum. But the good news is, the brain is capable of changing over time, so people with ADHD can strengthen their cerebellums using exercises like yoga or cycling that utilize balance.

- Your environment matters too.

A positive and healthy lifestyle, with adequate sleep, hydration, and a productive environment can improve symptoms of ADHD and overall attentiveness. 

To learn about these lessons in more detail, and discover how to turn them into actionable ideas for handling your ADHD and thriving with distraction, have a look at our ADHD 2.0 summary on Uptime.

Understanding ADHD - King’s College London

On Uptime

This course will help you understand the complexities of the condition, via the faculty of psychology and neuroscience at King’s College London. ADHD is a risk factor for other mental illnesses, so understanding it can help you understand any other mental health issues you may have as well. Learn the history and neurological mechanisms and move on to treatments. 

Wisdom from the experts…

- ADHD is not a new disorder.

Though it’s being discussed more and more these days, the patterns of inattention, impulsivity, and lack of control have been noted by doctors since the 18th century. Doctors began thinking about the symptoms as a specific condition in the 1950’s. 

- The modern prevalence of ADHD is complicated.

5% of children and 3% of adults reportedly have the condition, and these statistics haven’t changed much in the last few decades. 50% of children with ADHD have symptoms that persist into adulthood. But, ADHD is diagnosed almost 10x more in the US than it is in Europe. It is believed that doctors may overdiagnose because the symptoms are so common. 

- The clinical side of ADHD is very different for adults than for children.

The behavioral symptoms of ADHD tend to wane after childhood, but the attention difficulties remain. Adults report more symptoms like being unable to control their thoughts, having racing thoughts, and hyper focusing on trivial things. 

To explore these ideas in more detail and find out how they can help you, you can have a look at our Understanding ADHD summary on Uptime.

Thriving with Adult ADHD by Phil Boissiere MFT

On Uptime

Clinical training and executive coaching experience come together to give Phil Boissiere a great perspective on correcting the bad habits that Adult ADHD can induce. If you need help completing projects, starting tasks, and getting organized, this book will help you cope with adult ADHD over the long term. 

Some tips to start with…

- Figuring out your cognitive style will help improve your attention and focus.

Many of the problems from ADHD come from low dopamine and norepinephrine. But the presentation of symptoms reveals themselves differently in different people, so there’s no one-size-fits-all-solution. Looking at your specific problems will help you decide where to start for improvement.

Working memory is recalling information for immediate tasks. Problems with working memory are common because of the attention problems associated with smartphones. Stress can also degrade your working memory. If you have problems here, start with exercise and better sleep. Logging your specific difficulties will help you know where to begin with healing and progress. 

- Use organization techniques and planning to maximize your mental flexibility.

Poor planning is a symptom of ADHD and can also cause it to become worse in the long run. Many people with ADHD have trouble keeping their priorities straight. You concentrate on what's in front of you instead of the big picture. When you have multiple tasks, sort them into priority groups. The most urgent tasks come first, then the ones that are less urgent. Each individual task should be broken into steps. 

- Regulating your emotions will help you think long-term.

Intense negative emotions can become obsessions. Shame and excitement are also common. And they can lead to avoidant behavior. The first step to coping with negative emotions is to name and be aware of them. Don’t fight the emotion, simply contemplate it, and the intensity will fade. 

For more actionable tips on regulating any symptoms of ADHD that might be overwhelming you, have a look at our Thriving with Adult ADHD summary.

Help for Women with ADHD by Joan Wilder

On Uptime

Journalist Joan Wilder focuses specifically on adult women with ADHD in this part-explainer, part self-help book. If you’re overwhelmed, impulsive, foggy, and disorganized, she’s here to help. Postpartum hormones, PMS, menopause, and dietary changes can make already established conditions worse. Wilder was diagnosed with ADHD as a child, and has been dealing with it ever since. Her tools, strategies, and wisdom will help any ADHD sufferer tackle the condition in the modern era.

Wilder’s best tips include…

- People with ADHD actually have some amazing abilities that they can master alongside their struggles.

Many are super talented in creative areas and innovative in ways that would surprise the neurotypical. It can be hard to tap into these talents, but you can figure out how with help. To start, keep fewer options in front of you while working so you don’t get distracted. Make sure your workspace is free of clutter, clothes, gadgets, or extra electronics. Simplify your life every week by scheduling necessary tasks for the same time. Consistency will help make these tasks automatic.

- You need to take care of your body to help take care of your mind.

When you’re run down, hungover, not eating right, or not getting enough exercise, your brain is impacted. Keep an eye on your diet—carbohydrates are a huge contributor to brain fog. Sleep deprivation will also make your ADHD symptoms much worse. Practice good sleep hygiene to get your brain in the zone for success. 

- Distraction is the most persistent symptom of ADHD.

This can escalate into obsessing over unresolved issues; nagging thoughts that distract you and then cause you to spiral keep you distracted from whatever tasks you should be working on. The solution is to try to capture the nagging thoughts in a separate brain space that you will attend to later.

The ‘capture system’ can be a notebook or a note on your phone, and you then add information to it and retrieve it later with ease. When you get used to this system, it’ll become natural to put your nagging thoughts in here instead of letting them take over your day. 

For more ideas about how to combat ADHD symptoms that might be bothering you, you can check out our Help For Women with ADHD summary on Uptime.

ADHD can be an overwhelming condition to manage, but with advice and help from these experts, you can hopefully get your tasks under control and work towards living a more productive life. If it's more self-help guides you're interested in, why not have a look at our tips for handling stress or our beginner's guide to meditation?

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