ADHD is a familiar term for most people, but many do not fully understand the impact that ADHD may have on an individual. Difficulty focusing, diminished ability to organize thoughts or tasks, and self-esteem issues are all indicators of ADHD. The disorder can also make it difficult to form and sustain relationships with friends and family. Understanding how ADHD impacts individuals can make finding the proper treatment easier.
The Basics of Adult ADHD
For many years, experts believed that ADHD was a disorder that primarily impacted young children because outward symptoms were less common with age. Continued study in recent years has made it clear that symptoms of ADHD can impact individuals well into adulthood.
ADHD is diagnosed by identifying multiple cognitive and behavioral symptoms. In order to achieve an official diagnosis several of the main symptoms must be identified as having a consistently negative effect on an individual’s daily life.
Some of the most common symptoms of ADHD are:
The reality of living with ADHD will look different for each person and different symptoms will prove problematic for different people. The specific symptoms that each person deals with often determine how their ADHD is classified.
There are three types of ADHD recognized and listed in the DSM-5.
- Predominantly Inattentive Presentation
- Predominantly Hyperactive/Impulsive Presentation
- Combined Presentation.
The symptoms of each presentation can manifest in a variety of ways. Some will struggle with organization or completing tasks, while others may have difficulty staying seated for long periods of time. Any presentation can impact an individual’s life in negative ways by affecting work, school and relationships. Young adults with ADHD often face many unique challenges.
How ADHD Impacts Young Adults
While the symptoms of ADHD do not change, how they present can create unique challenges for young adults. One of the most pressing challenges facing young adults with ADHD is a significant difficulty with organizing thoughts, tasks and relationships, which in turn disrupts connections and what is “normal” for this young adult in their lived experience. Young adults with ADHD are often trying to fit into what their family or community believes makes them successful and get frustrated when they cannot reach the same goals as their peers.
ADHD develops very early in life, but it is not always recognized for what it is. Many people will not receive a diagnosis until later in life, often during their young adulthood, because their symptoms did not stop them from being successful in school. This can generate frustration for young adults because learning the proper treatments and coping mechanisms is more difficult at an older age. This can lead to difficulties with executive dysfunction, challenges with college life and ultimately a failure to launch.
Executive Dysfunction Caused by ADHD
The brain is responsible for several executive functions including inhibition control, working memory, and cognitive flexibility. Executive dysfunction is a behavioral symptom of ADHD that stops these functions from working properly. This can make it difficult for an individual to organize and manage their emotions, actions and thoughts. For young adults, executive dysfunction can make it nearly impossible to sit still for long periods of time, build relationships with peers and complete tasks if they do not think they will meet expectations.
College Students and ADHD
ADHD can make working toward a college education difficult for young adults. Organizing new concepts, tasks, information, expectations, social interactions and responsibilities can be particularly challenging. Some of the biggest challenges facing young adults with ADHD as they begin their college career are navigating expectations of being successful, finding the resources they need, and figuring out how they can survive. If these challenges are not properly addressed, they can lead to a failure to launch.
Failure to Launch Due to ADHD
When young adults with ADHD are unable to face and overcome the challenges that their disorder presents, they may find themselves dealing with what some professionals have called a failure to launch. Failure to launch means that a young adult is relying on their parents or guardians well beyond the point when it is beneficial. Their symptoms, such as struggling to manage time or organize tasks, can make creating a life for themself difficult. It is important to have parents or guardians in place that young people can rely on, but there needs to be a point where the young adults are able to step out and sustain themselves.
There are various types of treatment and management tools available for young adults dealing with ADHD. The best way to ensure that a young adult with ADHD is able to thrive is to find the treatment plan that works best for them.
Common Treatments of Adult ADHD
There are copious treatments for adult ADHD available. Each one may address a different aspect or symptom of the disorder to help the individuals thrive. The two primary sources of treatment for adult ADHD are medication and therapy.
Medications for ADHD are intended to target a specific area of the brain in order to improve brain function. The current medications that are approved by the FDA to combat the symptoms of ADHD target the dopamine and norepinephrine centers in the brain to increase the presence of those neuro-transmitters. There are stimulants and non-stimulants available for those treating their ADHD with medication.
Medication may not be a treatment option for some young adults with ADHD for one reason or another. These individuals may choose to pursue therapy to help manage their ADHD symptoms. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, commonly called CBT, and Meta-Cognitive Therapy are two common services that can help manage ADHD. CBT identifies incorrect thoughts and provides the tools to create an environment that is conducive to accomplishing tasks. Meta-Cognitive Therapy places an emphasis on recognizing various thought patterns and working to change them. For some, therapy and medication together are the best treatment for adult ADHD.
Treating ADHD with the Five Skyterra Young Adult Pillars
While medication and therapy modalities may help the young adult dealing with ADHD, a total wellness reset will help them move toward independence. They are in need of a total reset. There are programs like Skyterra Young Adult available for these individuals. The Skyterra mission focuses on whole-person wellness and is based on five pillars. A guest who attends Skyterra Young Adult as a way to reset and find independence will also get the skills and knowledge to help treat and manage their ADHD symptoms.
The five pillars that make up the Skyterra Young Adult philosophy are:
- Self-Care and Stress Management
- Fitness and Mobility
- Culinary and Nutrition Education
- Recreation and Adventure
- Mindfulness and Yoga
One of the major benefits of spending time at Skyterra Young Adult for young adults who deal with ADHD is that the external expectations are all but eliminated. The team at Skyterra Young Adult is dedicated to slowing down and putting distractions aside to help guests deconstruct the obstacles they face. The program instead centers on being intentional when creating a structure for daily life that includes movement, nourishment, self-care, recreation, and mindfulness.
Three ways that guests of Skyterra Young Adult who have been diagnosed with adult ADHD can benefit are:
Structure. Guests at Skyterra Young Adult have a good deal of freedom and autonomy, but it exists within an overall daily structure. There is a schedule that is followed each day that includes time for healthy meals, excursions to new places, community building, intentional movement and more. This structure gives young adults with ADHD the resources and understanding to create their own structure once they leave Skyterra Young Adult.
No Pressure. When guests arrive at Skyterra Young Adult they have no expectations placed on them. All of the challenges of life outside of the Skyterra Young Adult campus are put away for the duration of their stay. Major distractions, such as family relationships and school struggles, are placed to the back of their mind. For young adults with ADHD this is an opportunity to find the best ways to treat and manage their symptoms in a safe and welcoming environment.
Education. The curriculum at Skyterra Young Adult is designed to help young adults find their independence. One way this is accomplished is through various educational experiences such as learning how to cook simple meals for themselves, how to clean and maintain a home, and various lessons on managing stress. The emphasis on education with real-world application is beneficial for young adults with ADHD because it helps them understand and apply the techniques they are learning to manage their symptoms.
In addition to the structure of the program, the minimal expectations, and the emphasis on education, there are countless other ways that time at Skyterra Young Adult can benefit young adults with ADHD. Personal and group therapy services are also available to address specific challenges that guests may be facing. If you or a loved one are seeking effective treatment for adult ADHD, Skyterra Young Adult may be the place for you. Contact our team today for more information or to book your stay!