To some degree, we can all be a little spacey, disorganized, or get easily sidetracked, with any number of things demanding our attention NOW. But if it starts to feel extreme — you’re constantly frazzled from running late all the time or find yourself often getting called out by your peers or acquaintances as rude or disorganized, for example — you might want to test for ADD or talk to your doctor. Though almost 6.5 children in America (between the ages of four and 17) have been diagnosed with ADHD, ADD is something different — and yes, adults can have it too. Luckily, there’s been more research and public awareness about both ADD and ADHD in recent years, so it’s becoming less stigmatized and easier to understand in regards of what signs are and how to treat it, with ADD testing and assessments.
What is the Difference Between ADD and ADHD?
ADD stands for attention deficit disorder, while ADHD stands for attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Both fall under attention deficit disorder, but present themselves in different ways. Those with ADD tend to be easily distracted, have a poor memory, and often are inattentive. Those with ADHD generally have these, plus a tendency to be hyperactive or impulsive.
ADD in adults can be particularly harmful, simply because they may be portrayed as lazy, rude, or disinterested over their lives, internalize these labels, and have low self-esteem as a result. Indeed, adults who have ADD are three times more likely as adults without ADD to have stress, be depressed, or deal with other emotional problems that could potentially cause them to not go to work. Furthermore, about half of adults with ADD have anxiety disorders.
How Can I Tell if I Have ADD?
Unfortunately, there’s no one “thing” that is going to tell you whether you have ADD or not, though ADD testing is helpful. Generally a doctor will run through a list of common systems and have you answer questions about any previous or current issues you might be having. Medical exams may also be needed to make sure that your symptoms aren’t due to another ailment. Generally, if you display five or more symptoms of ADD, the doctor will be able to make a fairly clear diagnosis.
These symptoms can include not paying close attention to detail or keeping one’s attention on the task or activity they’re doing. Someone with ADD may appear as if they aren’t listening when they’re being spoken to directly or won’t follow through when it comes to instructions. Organizing tasks might be difficult and activities that require a long period of attention are often done grudgingly or avoided. Forgetfulness and losing items is also a hallmark symptom of ADD.
However, if you suspect you have all the “right” symptoms, taking part in an adult ADD assessment or ADD testing can help confirm that. There are free ADHD testing centers and tests online that you can take, but usually it’s good to confirm it with a doctor. And keeping your primary care physician up to speed also means that he or she can monitor you as you start medications or other types of treatment and adjust as needed.
What Can I Do To Be Treated for ADD?
Though medication can help some people when it comes to ADD, it’s not the only treatment tool that should be in your toolbox. Taking care of yourself — exercising as an outlet, sleeping well, and eating right — can go a long way towards reducing some of the stress and reducing symptoms.
Meditation, yoga, and therapy are also wonderful ways to ease ADD symptoms and find ways to manage symptoms, treat anxiety, control unhelpful behaviors, and generally get you through the day with more ease. Behavioral coaching and professional organizers can also be great assets to have on your team.
It’s clear that once ADD testing is done and the official diagnosis has come in, that there are plenty of other options for how to treat ADD that don’t rely solely on medicine. Getting you to a good place is the most important thing and being upfront and honest about what you need to do is crucial.