What is Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)?
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is one of the most well-recognized childhood developmental problems. This condition is characterized by inattention, hyperactivity and impulsiveness. It is now known that these symptoms continue into adulthood for about 60% of children with ADHD. That translates into 4% of the U.S. adult population, or 8 million adults. However, few adults are identified or treated for adult ADHD.
ADHD in Adults
Adults with ADHD may have difficulty following directions, remembering information, concentrating, organizing tasks, or completing work within time limits. If these difficulties are not managed appropriately, they can cause associated behavioral, emotional, social, vocational, and academic problems.
Adult ADHD Statistics
- ADHD afflicts approximately 3% to 10% of school-aged children and an estimated 60% of those will continue to have symptoms that affect their functioning as adults.
- Prevalence rates for ADHD in adults are not as well determined as rates for children, but fall in the 4% to 5% range.
- ADHD affects males at higher rate than females in childhood, but this ratio seems to even out by adulthood.
Common Behaviors and Problems of Adult ADHD
The following behaviors and problems may stem directly from ADHD or may be the result of related adjustment difficulties:
- Chronic boredom
- Chronic lateness and forgetfulness
- Difficulty concentrating when reading
- Difficulty controlling anger
- Employment problems
- Low frustration tolerance
- Low self-esteem
- Mood swings
- Poor organization skills or messy (clutters in the office or in the house)
- Relationship problems
- Substance abuse or addiction
These behaviors may be mild to severe and can vary with the situation or be present all of the time. Some adults with ADHD may be able to concentrate if they are interested in or excited about what they are doing. Others may have difficulty focusing under any circumstances. Some adults look for stimulation, but others avoid it. In addition, adults with ADHD can be withdrawn and antisocial, or they can be overly social, going from one relationship to the next.
School-Related Impairments Linked to Adult ADHD
Adults with ADHD may have:
- Had a history of poorer educational performance and been underachievers
- Had more frequent school disciplinary actions
- Had to repeat a grade
- Dropped out of school more often
Work-Related Impairments Linked to Adult ADHD
Adults with ADHD are more likely to:
- Change employers frequently and perform poorly
- Have less job satisfaction and fewer occupational achievements, independent of psychiatric status
Social-Related Impairments Linked to Adult ADHD
Adults with ADHD are more likely to:
- Have a lower socioeconomic status
- Have driving violations such as being cited for speeding, having their license suspended, and being involved in more crashes
- Rate themselves and others as using poorer driving habits
- Use illegal substances more frequently
- Smoke cigarettes
- Self-report psychological maladjustment more often
When ADHD enters the bedroom, distraction, wandering thoughts, and a lack of desire usually aren’t far behind. In fact, sexual boredom is one of the biggest complaints among ADHD couples, and a major reason behind their high divorce rate. Unfortunately, even when couples are sexually active, ADHD symptoms can interfere with emotional and sexual intimacy, leaving one or both partners feeling unconnected, alone, and sexually frustrated or unsatisfied.
Looking at ADHD & when intimacy just doesn’t jive.
Hurt feelings, confusion, and resentment can build and fester when one or both partners feel emotionally and/or sexually unsatisfied. If misinformation or misunderstanding is the main culprit, a marriage counselor or sex therapist can help the non-ADHD spouse understand how the disorder affects sexual desire and performance.
For instance, many ADHD partners are too hyperactive to relax and get in the mood. Instead of shutting out the world and focusing on their partner, they’re distracted by their racing thoughts. Others are distracted by loud music, even if it’s romantic. Instead of focusing on their partner, they may start singing along or talking about how much they loved the last concert.
How to Improve Sexual Intimacy
Provided there aren’t emotional distractions or barriers interfering with intimacy, it’s possible to overcome distractions that may prevent an ADHD spouse from being able to focus on, respond to, or enjoy sexual intimacy.
The following are some strategies for turning up the heat in your ADHD marriage or relationship.
- Talk openly about what turns your ADHD spouse on — and off. If she’s super-sensitive to scented oils or lotions, finds music more distracting than romantic, or can’t stand your scratchy beard, get rid of it.
- Be open to new experiences. ADHD adults love novelty, so don’t be afraid to introduce something new to ward off ADHD boredom. Make sure you’re both comfortable with it before trying anything. If your ADHD spouse isn’t comfortable with it, it’s likely to become yet another ADHD distraction.
- Practice being in the moment. To help your hyperactive partner stay in the now, try doing yoga, tai chi, meditation, deep breathing exercises, or massage as a couple. Then move the relaxed togetherness into the bedroom.
- Let go of libido-killers. When ADHD symptoms make your ADHD spouse unreliable, it may force you into assuming the role of parent. Once the child/parent pattern becomes the norm in a relationship, romance and sexuality between partners usually declines. If you and your partner are trapped in this pattern, work with a therapist to rebalance your relationship so you’re both equal partners.
- Make a date. If conflicting schedules are preventing you and your partner from having fun together, playing together, or hooking up, make a date and put it on the calendar. Then commit to it.
Lasting Happiness and Love
While ADHD poses disadvantages in a relationship, it also has many advantages. Opposites often attract, so if you’re the steady, reliable, and dependable type who could use a jolt of spontaneity, impulsivity, novelty, and excitement, an ADHD spouse may be just what the doctor ordered. On the other hand, if you’re an ADHD adult who has trouble balancing his checkbook, matching his socks, or remembering to feed the dog, a non-ADHD spouse could be the gift from heaven you’ve been searching for.
While it may take some effort, it’s possible for an ADHD relationship to have a happy and permanent ending. An ADHD spouse needs to take responsibility for his disorder rather than use it as an excuse for his problems.
In addition, the non-ADHD spouse needs to remember that she’s married to someone who’s wired a little differently than most people. While an ADHD marriage may not always run like clockwork, it could be a lot more lively and fun.
Treatment for ADHD or ADD in adults:
- Individual Therapy
- ADD Coaching
- ADHD/ADD centers
- Neurofeedback Training for ADD/ADHD