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Charting your path: next steps after an adult ADHD diagnosis

Updated: Oct 26, 2023

What should I do after receiving an ADHD diagnosis as an adult?


What treatment options are available?


How can I better manage my ADHD symptoms at home and work?


In this article, we will explore treatment options, lifestyle changes, and support networks after an adult ADHD diagnosis.


As an adult with ADHD, you are not alone

Taylor's life was a constant struggle, marked by academic difficulties, self-doubt, and a lack of confidence. Despite the odds, he persevered through college, but only after surviving academic probation more than once, graduating in five years, and incurring more than six figures in debt to finish it.


Just three months into his first job, Taylor found himself on a performance improvement plan. His colleagues and boss perceived him as lazy due to missed deadlines and tardiness. With each passing day, his self-esteem plummeted, and he couldn't shake the feeling that something was fundamentally wrong with him.


Taylor visited his doctor and share the overwhelm, frustration, and difficulties concentraing he was experiencing. He thought that perhaps he was depressed, but at the age of 36, Taylor received an unexpected diagnosis – ADHD.


At first, anger swelled within him. How had this critical piece of his puzzle gone unnoticed by teachers and parents for so long?


If you relate to Taylor’s story, you are not alone. According to WebMD,


As many as 5% of U.S. adults live with ADHD.

Following the diagnosis, Taylor's life began to shift. Meeting with his doctor, reviewing test results, and exploring various treatment options, he embraced a newfound sense of self-compassion.


Taylor's doctor recommended Taylor review our guide on adult executive function coachingand interview a few coaches to see if support in areas of time management, self-care, and prioritization would be helpful.


Taylor begins working an executive function coach

With the guidance of an executive function coach, he gradually established habits and routines to manage his ADHD symptoms.


Taylor began to meet weekly and work on important skills like:

  • How to use a calendar

  • How to set up his email inbox

  • Scheduling in exercise, lunch and other key habits


Today, Taylor's life is on a different trajectory. While he acknowledges there is room for growth, with the unwavering support of his partner and coach, he has regained control of his life, and his confidence and work performance have seen remarkable improvement.


How does ADHD impact your life?

  • I procrastinate at work

  • I interrupt others

  • I lose my belongings

  • I am easily distracted


Is it normal to experience a mix of emotions following an adult ADHD diagnosis?

Some people feel a sense of validation. They now understand their challenges with different executive function skills like planning, time management, and emotional regulation are ADHD symptoms.


Others are in disbelief or are angry that their ADHD was not recognized by professionals when they were younger. You may regret not getting diagnosed earlier and wonder about the opportunities you missed out on.


Either way, you have made a huge step in the right direction. You know have a deeper understanding of the way your brain works and can begin your journey in managing your symptoms while living your best life.


What treatment options are available?

A diagnosis means you can begin treating your ADHD appropriately. Doctors may prescribe medication. If you want to learn more about ADHD medications, speak with a doctor or psychiatrist. However, there are non-medication routes adults can pursue.


While some people find medication beneficial while others seek support through therapy or executive function coaching.


If you are searching for systems and tools that will improve your executive function skills are work, check out this blog post:



Developing awareness about how ADHD impacts you is essential in determining the right type of treatment options.


Therapy

A therapist or counselor can provide you with insights into the disorder and its impact on your life. They commonly employ cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to assist you in recognizing and controlling your thoughts and actions in real time, as opposed to dwelling on past experiences.


CBT is found to be very effective in adults with ADHD and other mental health disorders:


A large national study found 51% of adults with ADHD suffered from co-morbid anxiety and 32% suffered from co-morbid depression (CHADD)

If you have co-morbidities, this might be the right form of treatment for you.


Recently, CBT programs have been designed specifically for adults with ADHD. Some programs emphasize executive function skills such as planning and organizing while others are designed to improve self-regulation and emotional control.


Executive function coaching

If you are looking for a professional who can teach you how to become more organized, increase motivation, improve your attention, and reach your goals, working with an executive function coach is key.


According to Medical News Today,


A 2017 review looked at 19 studies that examined coaching-related ADHD outcomes. Of these, 17 studies found improvements in symptoms.

Executive function coaches will create an individualized plan designed to meet your needs. You will improve your executive function skills and develop a deeper understanding of how your brain works.



Self-care

Emphasizing self-care with improve your quality of life. Consider keeping track of your sleep, nutrition and water intake, and your exercise habits.


Making sleep, nutrition, and daily movement a key component of your daily life will benefit your mental health. Interestingly, recent research conducted by Dr. Frances Kuo found:


Time spent in natural surroundings has been linked to an increased ability to focus in adults with ADHD

Research about the impact of sleep, nutrition, and exercise on ADHD is anecdotal at the time of this writing. But, overarching research proves that emphasizing self-care has tremendous benefits on well-being.


Are there support groups for adults with ADHD?

Connecting with others to share your story and learn can be reaffirming. Joining an ADHD community will enable you to be heard, understood, and learn from others.


If you are searching for an in-person or online community, start with CHADD’s affiliate locator directory.


It is also important to discuss your diagnosis with your partner, roommates, or family.


Share your diagnosis and teach them how ADHD impacts you. This will allow others to closely understand your challenges and find ways to best support you.


Conclusion

Taylor's story is a testament to the transformative power of understanding and managing ADHD. At 36, an unexpected ADHD diagnosis initially fueled anger and frustration, but it ultimately opened doors to significant life changes.


If Taylor's journey resonates with you, know that you're not alone. After a new diagnosis, emotions can range from relief and validation to disbelief or anger. Whatever you feel, remember that this diagnosis is a pivotal step in comprehending how your unique brain operates and embarking on a path to symptom management and personal growth.


ADHD management offers various treatment avenues, from medication and therapy to executive function coaching and the importance of self-care. To navigate these options, developing self-awareness about how ADHD affects you is crucial.


Joining communities of individuals on similar journeys, both online and in-person, can provide valuable support, understanding, and opportunities to learn from others.


Lastly, sharing your ADHD diagnosis with loved ones enables them to better understand your challenges and offer meaningful support. This journey is yours, and you're not alone in it.


Stay Engaged


About the author

Eric Kaufmann, M.Ed is a Professional Educational Therapist and Certified Executive Function Coach. He is the Co-founder of UpSkill Specialists, an online adult executive function coaching company designed to guide adults in overcoming disorganization, procrastination, and productivity roadblocks so they can unlock their potential. Eric is also the founder of Elevate Learning Solutions, an Educational Therapy practice located in San Clemente, CA, that guides students with neurological differences toward becoming independent and confident students and self-leaders.




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Upskill Specialists was founded when two former special education teachers turned executive function coaches decided that adults need tools and coaching to improve their workplace skills and feel confident and empowered. Our mission is to ensure every adult with EF challenges has access to high-quality coaching services. 

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