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Recognising ADHD in Adults

ADHD is short for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. In reality, this name can be misleading, as ADHD is not a deficit of attention, but rather an inability to control your focus, meaning that your focus would shift constantly and without your control. Alternatively, you could hyper-fixate on a task, meaning that your focus remains on one task, also without your control, to the point that you could forget to eat or you miss an appointment because you were so focused on this other task. Not being able to control your focus also includes tasks that are considered to be important, such as work tasks, or homework for school. Another myth related to ADHD is the assumption that ADHD only affects children, when, in reality, one does not simply grow out of their ADHD. In fact, research has shown that 6.78% of the adult global population is diagnosed with ADHD, which translates to 366.33 million adults.

So, what are the symptoms of ADHD? Everyone knows the typical fidgety child who can’t sit still in a classroom for five minutes, but can you recognise it in adulthood? In adults, ADHD can look like disorganisation, difficulty staying on the task at hand, poor ability to plan things, excessive activity or restlessness, or lots of thoughts whizzing through your head. It’s important to note that hyperactivity does not mean just physical hyperactivity, but it can also be mental hyperactivity. Because of this, ADHD can sometimes be misdiagnosed as anxiety.

A main symptom of ADHD, which unfortunately is not discussed enough, is executive dysfunction. Executive functioning affects our behaviour, allowing us to select and monitor our behaviour to reach a particular goal. Therefore, executive dysfunction happens when a person cannot remember the steps of a particular task, or even becoming demotivated to carry out a task because of the steps involved – for example, if you think about it, doing laundry has a large number of steps, which can result in someone with ADHD forgetting a load in the washer or dryer. People with ADHD commonly lack the ability to handle frustration, start and finish tasks, recall and follow multi-step directions, stay on track, self-monitor, and balance tasks (like sports and academic demands).

Undiagnosed ADHD can cause a myriad of personal and social problems. Adults with untreated ADHD receive more speeding tickets, may have more problems with partners, mainly because people who have ADHD are more likely to forget things, interrupt their partner, or even zone out while their partner is speaking. People with ADHD may struggle more with getting to work on time due to something called time blindness, and struggle more with receiving multi-step tasks (thus causing more problems at work). They are also more likely to change jobs frequently as the previous job would become ‘boring’ or uninteresting. In many situations, undiagnosed and untreated ADHD in teenagers and adults results in more experimentation with substances, due to impulsivity.

Is some of this is starting to sound familiar? You might want to consider a diagnosis. A diagnosis can only be provided by a psychiatrist or a clinical or educational psychologist. If you are unsure where to start, reach out to the NGO, ADHD Malta, a very helpful supportive association that can guide you further. A diagnosis is not a death sentence but something which may enable you to understand yourself and your needs better. Nowadays there’s more support out there for ADHD than there ever was. This includes a community that can help you find ways to make ADHD your superpower, rather than a crutch.

Mel McElhatton

About Mel McElhatton

Mel graduated as a social worker from the University of Malta in 2016, and has a Master’s Degree in Psychotherapy from the Gestalt Psychotherapy Training Institute Malta (GPTIM). They also have a diploma in life coaching, which supports them when motivating clients experiencing difficult hurdles in their life.

TherapyPacks Terms and Conditions

1. TherapyPacks come in bundles of 5 or 10 sessions. Prices of bundles:

  • 5 sessions – €270 – must be utilised within 3 months from date of purchase
  • 10 sessions – €520 – must be utilised within 6 months from date of purchase

2. Bundles are not transferable. This means they cannot be used by, or gifted to, anyone else but the person whose name is listed as the TherapyPacks bundle holder.

3. Bundles which are purchased for Couples Therapy and Family Therapy can only be used by members of the couple or family with one therapist. If members of a couple or family decide to take up individual therapy with another therapist, the bundle will only apply to sessions with the therapist originally referred and cannot be also used for the individual sessions with another therapist. Exceptions will be made if the original therapist is unable to see the client or family and the couple or family are referred to another therapist. After referral, the same conditions will apply.

4. Bundles are valid for a limited time period, as listed above. This means that the bundles will expire once the respective time period has elapsed. Any sessions not utilised within this period will be lost. This means that a refund will not be given for unused sessions. Start date commences on date of purchase of bundles.

5. Bundles are only valid for full price sessions (charged at €60) and not for sessions with trainee psychotherapists, reports or assessments.

6. Full payment needs to be made on purchase, via bank transfer, cash or credit card.

7. Management reserves the right to terminate or suspend the use of the bundles. Reasons for such are at the discretion of the clinic.

8. Refunds or extensions of time period within which bundles may be used is at the discretion of management and will only be granted in exceptional circumstances.

9. Management reserves the right to modify or replace the terms and conditions. In such circumstances, clients will be given adequate notice and time to adhere to such.

10. The clinic’s cancellation policy is applicable also to bundles. Late cancellations or no shows will result in the forfeit of a session within the bundle allocation.

11. Responsibility for ensuring timely use of session bundles remains that of the TherapyPacks bundle holder or, in the case of a minor, their carer/legal guardian.