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Top 10 Ways to Manage Adult ADHD

by Pete Quily on February 21, 2008 · 72 comments

There are many ways how to manage or deal with Adult Attention Surplus Condition, aka Adult Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Here are a few.

Top Ten Ways to Manage Adult ADHD

1. ADHD Coaching. More for adults than children. Pills can be useful but pills don’t teach skills, they’re not designed to. They can, however, put you in a better place to learn them through ADHD coaching or therapy.Once you stop using ADHD meds, their effectiveness is gone. Learned skills from ADHD coaching last longer.

Here are some of the ADHD related problems we ADHD coaches help you learn how to solve. Adult ADHD Coaching focuses on practical day to day ways to manage adult ADHD more effectively at work and at home.

Generally speaking, therapy is more focused on helping you understand and heal the past so you have a better present. ADHD coaching is more focused on taking practical action in the present and the future.

Adult ADHD Coaches work on helping you learn to more effectively manage the challenges of ADHD and identifying and developing the strengths of having ADHD. They work over the phone for 3-4 sessions per month. I offer a free 15 minute consultation and many other coaches do too.

2. ADHD Medication. Not the tool of the devil, not the magic cure all. Just a useful tool that has been studied more than probably 98% of any medications that you’ve taken, and stimulants have been used for 70 years. Talk to people who’ve actually taken medications for ADHD and a doctor that’s experienced in dealing with adult with ADHD before you make up your mind. Here’s some articles on ADHD medications, lists of companies making ADD medications and detailed clinical pdf’s on ADHD meds go to then click on practice guidelines, (they always change the direct link) and ways to deal with side effects (scroll down to chp 10). If you do try ADD meds, at least give them an honest try, it takes a while to find the right med(s) and the right dose. Keep in mind meds are a partial solution, even ADHD drug companies don’t say they’re a complete solution

3. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy by someone that knows about Adult ADD. The knowing ADD part is crucial whether its a therapist or coach.

Just like coaching it’s also crucial to have a good fit with the therapist. Therapy is useful in uncovering, understanding & dealing with things from your past that aren’t resolved and interfere with your present functioning. Some people, especially men, view going to a therapist as a sign of weakness. I view it as a sign of strength and courage. That you have the guts to look inside yourself instead being too weak and afraid to do so. So if you need to go to one, go, don’t be a wuss.

4. ADHD Support Groups. There’s a lot of info on the net about Adult Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. I have a 150+ page website on Adult ADHD and even more info on this blog, believe learning about Adult Attention Deficit Disorder is important, but it can be really useful to meet other ADDers in person.

They’ll all “get” Attention Deficit Disorder, you don’t have to explain what it is to them, it’s helpful to meet others with the same problems & gifts, plus we’re not boring people:)

I have a list of Canadian ADHD support groups by province and a list of US ADHD support groups and International ADHD support groups. If you’re in Vancouver come visit the group I lead, the Vancouver Adult ADD Support Group. If there’s no group in your area, create your own like I did, check out the section on how to start, run and promote a support group.

5. Adequate Diet. Keeping the race car brain running smoothly. Feeding your ADHD brain with a good diet, especially adequate dopamine building protein in the morning, and Essential Fatty Acids are important. Adders often forget meals and water. Starving your brain doesn’t make you smarter.

6. Exercise boosts the 3 main neurotransmitters associated with Adult ADHD. Dopamine, serotonin, norepinephrine and the feel good beta-endorphins and relieves stress. Exercise is the number one non medical way to deal with ADHD, depression, anxiety and stress. Make sure you chose exercise that’s interesting to you vs. what you think you “should” do. Not everyone likes the gym.

7. Learning to Slow down and Stop. So you don’t crash. Take regular, short, non electronic breaks or your brain will slow down/shut down/or distract/procrastinate out, all very common problems with ADHD Adults. This is the #1 way to be more efficient at work. Especially when you’re “too busy” to take a break.

8. Meditation. Think deep mental refreshment. Why do those Buddhist monks always look so chilled out? Race car ADHD brains need pit stops and tune ups or they burn out.

I’ve done a wide variety of different types of meditations off and on for 20+ years.  If you’re a beginner, start with active forms of meditation first, NOT passive ones (i.e., don’t start staring at the wall and thinking of nothing).

Active forms of meditation involve your senses, i.e., body, breath, voice, ears, or fingers, so it’s easier for ADHD adults to focus and avoid getting distracted and helps to calm the monkey mind. Check out the book The Mindfulness Prescription for ADHD written by a psychiatrist.

  • Would you expect to go from not running to trying to run for 30 minutes the first time? Then don’t expect to meditate 15-20 minutes at the beginning. Try 2-3 minutes at first everyday and slowly work up.

9. Tutors or Educational Psychologists that know about ADHD. See my section on teaching students with ADHD.

10. Professional Business and Personal Help. Professional Organizers that know about ADHD, bookkeepers, virtual assistants, secretarial help, cleaning services etc.

Smart, successful people delegate what they don’t like, or aren’t good at. Especially if you have your own business, hiring someone to do the paperwork should be the first thing you pay for, it can make the difference between success and constant struggle and frustration. In Canada try Professional Organizers of Canada, and in the US try Napo.

What are some ways you manage your ADHD?

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