ADHD Answers

Can job loss and financial stress cause ADHD to worsen despite medication?

Hi Jr, Thank you for your time in asking this important question on the "Ask a Licensed Therapist" forum. I also want to thank you for being an essential health care worker. I know that you mentioned in your question that you worked tirelessly through out the pandemic. Your qualities of hard work, determination and dedication must certainly be one of your many strengths. In addition, your altruism is incredibly inspiring. I hope that you are doing what you can to take care of yourself, despite your selfless career and very busy work schedule. Based on your question, I can tell that you are going through a very difficult situation and that you are currently experiencing intense financial stress due to recent job loss. What are some of the ways in which you can manage the financial stress that you have been facing? Would you be willing to make a step by step action plan as you prepare to apply for and start a new job? I want to encourage you to take a step back and contemplate how your career goals may have changed and what you need to do to attain your employment objectives. It is true that stress of any kind, including financial stress, can exacerbate a multitude of mental health symptoms. I hope that you are doing what you can to practice self care skills. I will forward you this link which outlines a list of coping skills that you can try. Here is link to a pdf that has some ideas for self care skills: https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5c154cf9372b964a03cbccdb/t/5c488d65352f534aa63aa58a/1548258661324/100+Coping+Skills.pdf It sounds like you lost your coach, your mental health provider as well as your primary care provider all at one time. How are you managing things in your life now that this has happened? Having this occur all at one time would be over whelming for any one. I hope that you can make a plan to figure out what the next steps will be for you to begin the process of connecting with some new providers and rebuild your support system. It seems like you are open to finding another job opportunity in the near future. I sincerely wish you all the best in applying for a new job as an RN. I recommend seeking new employment opportunities on Indeed or LinkedIn if you have not done so already. In the meantime, you can focus on preparing yourself for your interview and begin the process of submitting applications by editing your cover letter and your resume. Also, there are some virtual and in person job fair opportunities on the Massachusetts state website. Here is the link to this resource: https://www.mass.gov/massachusetts-virtual-job-fair In addition, to the job opportunities listed on the states' department of labor and workforce web site, there are other free resources, such as resume writing classes and other career services through Mass Hire. For more information, check out this webpage: https://www.mass.gov/orgs/masshire-department-of-career-services I am so sorry to hear that you were assaulted last year. It sounds like this incident happened while you were at work. Would you be willing to process your experiences and make sense of what happened during individual counseling sessions? At this time, I recommend that you attend weekly counseling sessions and meet with a trained therapist who can help you to navigate your thoughts and feelings about this incident. Going to a support group for survivors of assault may also be a great idea to contemplate taking part in. In the meantime, I can share with you two EMDR resourcing techniques that may be beneficial for you to reconnect to your self and find some semblance of healing. I highly recommend trying out this inner peaceful place guided visualization activity as well as the butterfly hug technique. Here is the link to the butterfly hug technique: https://emdrfoundation.org/toolkit/butterfly-hug.pdf This is a link to a youtube video based on the butterfly hug technique: https://youtu.be/iGGJrqscvtU  This is the script for the inner peaceful place activity: https://emdrtherapyvolusia.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/Calm_Safe_Place.pdf  I realize that what you have been going through has been an enormous challenge and that this experience is not ideal for you to endure. I would like to encourage you to practice some mindfulness exercises, as well as the coping skills and EMDR resourcing strategies. Mindfulness techniques help individuals be more connected in the present moment and live more fully in the here and now. I want to share with you some free mindfulness audio clips in case you would like to practice some mindfulness exercises:  https://wellness.mcmaster.ca/your-health/mindfulness-and-relaxation/ Lastly, I want to address your concerns about ADHD. What have your symptoms of ADHD been like in the past? How can you tell if these symptoms are getting worse? I know that you mentioned that you are taking a stimulant medication to manage your ADHD. Would you be willing to meet with your prescriber for a follow up appointment? In the meantime, I would like to share with you an art therapy directive that you can try out in order to manage your symptoms of ADHD. Using art materials of your choice, create a drawing or painting that is an expression of how you are feeling. Take minute to title your art work and then use scissors, or just your hands, to rip and cut the paper into smaller pieces. After you have done that, use tape or glue to create a secondary image of something that brings you peace of mind, happiness and joy. Title your final product. This collage activity may be worth a try in order to assist you in managing your feelings. Thank you again, Jr, for taking your time to share your experience on the BetterHelp platform! I hope that my response as well as some of the resources that I have shared with you will be helpful for you in some way. I wish you all the best in your therapeutic journey. Take good care and have a nice day!
(LMHC, ATR-P, MS, NCC)
Answered on 10/21/2022

I'm struggling constantly

Hello , I am really sorry to hear that you are struggling and I was wondering if there is anything I could do to support you through what your feeling and going through at the moment. Having counselling through this service will help you to no end, however I can understand that money is a problem, especially the way things are in the world at the moment.  It sounds as though you have been going through this for some time and now things have got worse. I would suggest starting with your GP and get a face to face appointment explain what you're feeling and what you're going through. However, you are at the moment contacting me through this platform and there is a lot of help available through here: there are work sheets, counselling, group sessions, and messaging with individual counsellors. Make sure you reach out to people friends and family and writing your feelings down in a journal can really help you. There are also lots of exercise groups around and swimming which really helps with mental health problems. Write down what's on your mind and what you're feeling anxious about. Please keep doing this - it's not a five minute fix but you will start to notice a difference in a few weeks. I hope this helps and you get the help you need. Please don't cut yourself off from others this will make you feel worse. 
Answered on 10/08/2022

ADHD and RSD. I have found myself struggling with Rejection Sensitivity Dysphoria. Strategies?

Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria, although not a formal diagnostic category, describes a range of symptoms that often accompany ADHD. This includes heightened sensitivity, difficulty letting go of past hurts and/or rejection. It may also involve a personal belief that you let someone down and social insecurity. This can be distressing, and leads you to be more sensitive to perceived rejection and consequently easily triggered by certain situations. Some common symptoms of RSD may include:      1) low self esteem       2) avoidance of social situations or particular social settings       3) fear of failure       4) anxiety       5) feeling hopeless       6) high expectations of self    Some tips are: 1) Reinforce your strengths in order to overcome rejection. Acknowledge positive efforts, work and engage in rewarding activities to help increase self confidence.  2) Use daily affirmations. You can do this by incorporating daily positive affirmations and self talk such as: All I need is within me I am getting better every day.  I am confidant. I am strong.  3) Stop, think and then act accordingly. Practice taking a pause before responding to statements that may seem to be directed towards you. It is common to have difficulty distinguishing between a general statement or a directed statement. Practice a statement such as "That's interesting. Let me think about that."  4) Remind yourself that some people make negative statements that are more reflective of them and not of you. 5) Remind yourself of the positives within your marriage and when interacting with your wife.  6) Emphasize family and friends connections. Engage in fun and memorable activities together in order to counter the emotional sensitivities you may feel. 7) Lifestyle changes can often accompany gestational therapy to aid in managing your emotional response. It can be hard to control hurt feelings but having a plan and tools in place can help you exercise more control over your emotions. It can also improve and reduce your stress level, which in turn will make you feel more at ease and calm. This will then make it easier to control your emotions. You can try incorporating: daily exercise such as a walk eating a balanced diet practicing good sleep hygiene in order to feel well rested  8) Finally, be kind to yourself your thoughts, words and actions. 
Answered on 10/08/2022

How do I know if I have ADHD? How do I know if it's Social Anxiety Disorder and not ADHD?

Hi AA! Thank you so much for asking this valuable question on the BetterHelp platform! It sounds like you have come to the right place! It seems like you are contemplating what your specific mental health diagnosis might be! I can tell that you have a lot of self awareness, which is truly a wonderful trait. It is really great that you are doing what you can to participate in the journey of self exploration. I can imagine how much you must want to figure out if you have an anxiety disorder, such as social anxiety, or a diagnosis of ADHD. A co-morbid diagnosis could be a possibility, as well. It appears that you are looking to rule out a diagnosis in order to clarify your own mental health experience. All in all, I am very grateful that you have chosen to reach out for support on the BetterHelp platform in order to explore more about yourself and your specific goals! First and foremost, I want to inform you that the therapists who are contracted to provide therapy and counseling services on the BetterHelp platform are not able to provide subscribers with a formal mental health diagnosis. The therapist that you work with may be able to assist you in exploring the possibility of a diagnosis and help you to come up with strategies to manage the symptoms that you are having.That being said, I will share with you this: a diagnosis is a cluster of symptoms that are representative of numerous people in a variety of populations. I advise you to check out reliable and valid resources by the American Psychological Association about the aspects of differential diagnosis. The Diagnostic Statistical Manuel provides the most up to date information regarding symptom presentation and statistics for specific diagnostics. There is still always an option for you to meet with a therapist for therapy sessions. The individual counseling services on better help may be very beneficial for you! You also may want to check out the group counseling options, as well as the groupinars, that are available on the better help platform! It is completely up to you what you decide on when it comes to the options for therapy services. It sounds like the video that you watched in the special education class at your university was triggering for you. What aspects of the video stand out to you as important? What aspects of the participant's experience did you have a connection with? What did your professor or the other students in the class say about the video? Perhaps processing this video with some one else who had also seen the video might be a helpful experience for you. If that is not going to be an option, you may choose to journal about the experience about watching the video. It sounds like your struggle with communicating with others, utilizing interpersonal skills and making new friends has been an ongoing issue for you for quite some time. It seems like you were able to relate to the person in the video who had been diagnosed with ADHD. I can tell that you have a lot of empathy and compassion for this individual in the video. This is absolutely a strength of yours!  I like to send the following two resources to my clients who are concerned about a possible or preliminary diagnosis of ADHD. Below is the like to the BASC 3, which is an AHDH information tip sheet: http://images.pearsonclinical.com/images/assets/basc-3/basc3resources/DSM5_DiagnosticCriteria_ADHD.pdf Here is the link to a PowerPoint presentation that provides more detailed information about the diagnosis of ADHD. It is forty seven pages, so it may be a good idea to set some time aside to review this resource. http://downloads.pearsonclinical.com/videos/100317-BASC3/BASC-3-ADHD-Diagnosis-Evaluation-and-Treatment-of-ADHD-Webinar-Handout-100317.pdf I hope that some of these resources are helpful for you in some way! In addition to participating in psycho education and learning more about the ADHD mental health diagnosis, you may want to practice some mindfulness techniques. I recommend trying progressive muscle relaxation, guided visualization exercises, and sensory grounding techniques. You will be able to learn these various strategies on your own through a simple internet search. The idea is that you can connect with your physical, emotion and even spiritual sense of self! You can absolutely be present in the moment, no matter what your mental health diagnosis turns out to be. In addition to mindfulness based meditation and other relaxation techniques, I recommend journaling, art making and utilizing positive affirmations. Journaling on a daily basis about your thoughts, feelings and experiences can certainly be helpful, healing and therapeutic. Pairing the journaling experience with a hot cup of tea or some relaxing music, may also amplify the effects of journaling. Art making as a fuel for healing can be incredibly powerful. I recommend trying a collage activity, making a puzzle, creating a drawing or painting. Try drawing or painting your inner peaceful place. Maybe you can make a collage about your mental health symptoms. In addition, positive thinking can be life changing. Start your day with a positive quote that truly resonates with you. Check out the author Louise Hay for some  positive affirmations. Her book, "You Can Heal Your Life," might give you some guidance on how to personalize affirmations and shape your world view. I recommend that, if you are seeking out a formal mental health diagnosis, that you reach out to a psychologist for psychology testing. You may be able to ask your primary care physician for a referral to a local psychologist in your area. There are specific, standardized tests and psychological assessments that can be administered to obtain an objective diagnosis. Thank you again, AA, for your time in asking this valuable question on the "Ask a Licensed Therapist" forum. I want to take a moment to wish you all the best on your therapeutic journey now and in the future! I hope that my response has been helpful for you and that you have a great day!
(LMHC, ATR-P, MS, NCC)
Answered on 09/28/2022

If I am displaying symptoms of both ADHD and General Anxiety Disorder, which is diagnosed/treated?

Hi Bri, it is very nice to meet with you today, and hope we can find some answers and solutions for your symptoms of hyperactive thoughts, potentially some anxiety, racing thoughts affecting sleep, and difficulty managing task. These symptoms can be very frustrating. ADHD or ADD can be assessed with  Vanderbilt screening or other screenings to rule out the condition the doctor will ask you about symptoms related to the category and rule out other conditions too. Unfortunately, much of the time anxiety and ADHD are comorbid - meaning they like each other and they like depression as well. So if ADHD onset early and was never treated you can develop other conditions as well. If you feel the root cause is ADHD/ADD start with the symptoms and share those in detail with your doctor, the duration/onset, and when these symptoms occur. Your doctor then can screen you for any underlying conditions such as anxiety and depression with some assessment screenings. Often times, if the ADHD/ADD is treated, these other symptoms potentially dissipate or decrease and that would be the goal. Also, learning some coping strategies and cognitive behavioral skills will help you manage and find alternatives/solutions for your symptoms. To help you sleep try some meditation or something self-soothing to you and calming to help you fall asleep faster. Do you do better with routine or structure? This could also be helpful for you to help you stay focused and grounded in the task you are trying to complete. I would start by making an appointment with a psychologist and/or physician or psychotherapist. It was great talking to you today and look forward to helping guide you to help you feel better in relation to the root causes of your symptoms. I can send you some material on coping skills to get started as well. A balanced diet, sleep, and exercise are key to keeping your body balanced and equilibrium state of mind. When the mind races it is difficult to be in the moment actually able to process what you are trying to learn or accomplish. Take care, Ms. Harmon-Rodriguez, LPCC-S
Answered on 09/28/2022

Could I have ADHD and could this be the reason why I struggle in life?

Hi Pegasus!Thank you so much for reaching out for support on the Better Help platform. I can certainly tell that you have been contemplating the reasons as to why you may have been struggling lately. Asking these important questions about yourself demonstrates your resiliency, bravery and ability to reach out for support. I hope that you are able to recognize these amazing qualities that you harbor, as well. Based on the information that you provided in your question, I agree with you that you may be struggling with the some symptoms consist with clinical depression and ADHD. It is possible that you could have untreated or misdiagnosed ADHD? What thoughts and feelings come to mind when you consider this as a possibility? How long have you been feeling this way? A diagnosis for ADHD (Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) comes from a myriad of symptoms, some of which you may be currently experiencing. Three major categories that define a diagnosis of ADHD include hyperactive and impulsivity, inattention and combined type. Some of the symptoms of ADHD may overlap to create a combined presentation of ADHD. The following two links are resources that I would like to share with you. These resources will provide significant clinical information about ADHD. I encourage you to take some time to review these scientifically validated and reliable resources instead of seeking information through online search engines and social media. Both of these links are resources available to the public by Pearson, a trusted psychology resource and educational/ publishing company. Here is the link to the BASC3 ADHD information tip sheet (two pages): http://images.pearsonclinical.com/images/assets/basc-3/basc3resources/DSM5_DiagnosticCriteria_ADHD.pdf Here is the link to the PowerPoint presentation that provides ample information about ADHD (47 pages): http://downloads.pearsonclinical.com/videos/100317-BASC3/BASC-3-ADHD-Diagnosis-Evaluation-and-Treatment-of-ADHD-Webinar-Handout-100317.pdf I encourage you to reach out to a clinical psychologist outside of the BetterHelp platform who can provide psychological testing if you are looking to receive a formal diagnosis. The therapists on BetterHelp are able to support you in managing symptoms consistent with a diagnosis but are not able to provide concrete and formalized diagnosis for subscribers on the BetterHelp platform. Not all psychologists specialize in ADHD testing so it may take some time for you to connect with a psychologist who is locally practicing in your area.  In regards to symptoms of depression, when did those symptoms start? You mentioned that you believe that you have low self esteem and lack self confidence. This may be a warning sign for depresssion. I encourage you to continue the practice of assessing your own mental health status as you begin the process of building up your overall self worth. Practicing hobbies, engaging in tasks and activities that interest you, as well as utilizing self care skills are all ways in which you can gain more confidence. In addition to building on the skills and talents that you already have, I highly recommend utilizing self affirming statements. Practicing positive affirmations can make a world of difference in many people's lives. An example of a positive self talk statement could be: "I am worthy of self love. I have so many talents and strengths. I choose to regain my confidence in small ways every day." It would be great if you were able to come up with a more personalized affirmation that you can utilize as a mantra on a daily basis. It is true that building confidence may take some time but you can absolutely improve your sense of self concept with the resources that work best for you. If you are interested in reading, you may want to check out a book by Louise Hay titled "You Can Heal Your Life." This book provides more information and insight into the power of practicing personalized positive affirmations. There are also videos and audio clips available online based on this resource. I am definitely interested in hearing more about your personal experience with ADHD. It sounds like you were given a concrete diagnosis in the past. What was it like for you to grow up with a diagnosis of dysgraphia and dyspraxia? It sounds like you were able to accept this diagnosis when you were a child. I wonder if having this diagnosis caused you to have a low sense of self concept and self esteem. Perhaps you can create a video journal documenting aspects of your journey managing the symptoms of dysgraphia and dyspraxia. It sounds like you have a lot of self awareness about the areas in your life in which you are lacking self confidence. What are some things that you can do to improve the quality of your relationships? Take a moment to create a pros and cons list about the relationships that you have. It may be helpful to visualize your relationships in a positive way. I really appreciate that you want to improve on your social skills. I highly recommend attending a therapy group in order to work on building self esteem and socialization skills. In addition, I recommend individual counseling sessions at this time. It may be a great outlet for you to talk with a licensed therapist on a weekly or bi weekly basis. It can be truly healing to participate in narrative therapy and have that opportunity to re tell your life story to someone new! Lastly, but certainly not in the least, I want to encourage you to take some time to make art. This is an open ended suggestion but I do hope you feel inspired to pick up some art supplies and make something out of raw materials. Perhaps creating a mural, collage or your own alphabet would be a way in which you can participate in the therapeutic art making process. It is completely up to you how you want to engage in the art making process. As a provisionally licensed art therapist, I am a strong believer that art making is fuel for healing. I uphold this value both on a personal and professional level. Creating art is also a wonderful way to boost self confidence! Thank you again, Pegasus, for sending over your question to the "Ask a Licensed Therapist" forum! I want to take a moment to wish you all the best in your therapeutic journey. Have a fantastic day!
(LMHC, ATR-P, MS, NCC)
Answered on 08/20/2022

How do I know if I have ADHD

Dear Thanos, First of all I want to commend your remarkable insight that led you to seek support here on BetterHelp. As you may know from experiencing issues with attention, ADHD is often co-occurring with anxiety, meaning that individuals with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) or Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) are more likely than the general population to experience anxiety.  Unfortunately, BetterHelp therapists aren’t able to provide diagnoses, nor can we prescribe medication. However, here are a few ways your counselor here can help (in addition to your seeking diagnostic and medication support elsewhere – like starting with your primary care provider and seeking referrals to local providers): - Learn more about ADHD and ways to cope and understand how to change your environment to help you be successful at work, school, and in social situations. - Learn about the links between anxiety and cognition. From what you wrote, it sounds like these symptoms are not new for you (but certainly much more problematic right now). A few decades of social science research have helped us understand that our thought patterns and how we consider the world and events lead to specific emotions. Your therapist can teach you more about the cognitive model and describe some practical tools to change the maladaptive thought patterns (in other words, the ways of thinking that keep bringing you down). There are so many practical ways to get started with this work, and it can help strengthen you throughout your life. In the mean time, you can learn more by watching a Groupinar on BetterHelp about Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to start learning about the links between anxiety and cognition. - Learn more about anxiety in general. Physical sensations like increased heart rate, sweating, feeling overwhelmed and panicked are signs of your fight or flight response. This is an evolutionary function of our sympathetic nervous system that helps our bodies prepare for dealing with predators (either to fight or flee). In addition, you may feel your muscles tense up and a surge of energy as glucose and adrenaline are released into your bloodstream. The fight or flight response makes a lot of sense if you are dealing with a physical threat, but it does not help us much when our threat is a work deadline, being late for an appointment, meeting a new person, poor internet connection, or other modern stressors. Indeed, too much of the fight or flight response causes stomach upset, muscle tension, bad mood, trouble sleeping, and eventually even lowered immunity (do you ever notice how college students always get sick right after final exams?). - Disrupt intense fear or the fight or flight response with deep breathing. Learning deep belly breathing (or “diaphragmatic breathing) is a great tool to add to effective stress management. Taking time to breathe deeply for a few minutes is a free and easy to learn method to take you out of the fight or flight zone and into a zone where you can think more clearly and not experience those side effects. You can Google “deep breathing” or “diaphragmatic breathing” to start learning a technique that really helps most people. You can find mobile apps to help (for example the Breathe2Relax or the Virtual Hope Box app – both are free and evidence-based) or watch videos online that can walk you through it. These are skills that not only help you now, but can assist you throughout your entire life (for example, dealing with road rage, poor customer service, annoying family). You can also disrupt the fight or flight response in the moment with just a minute or two of intense exercise (for example, push-ups, jumping jacks or walking up and down a flight of stairs). This helps use some of the adrenalin and glucose that are released into your blood stream when you have encountered a stressor and leaves you thinking a bit more clearly. - Try to identify triggers. We are creatures of habit, and we tend to be afraid of consistent things. Unfortunately, the more we avoid a fear, the stronger that fear gets (avoidance is like fuel for fear). As such, it is important to start learning about the common themes of what makes you anxious. Is it a fear of being judged? A fear of failure? A fear of not being loved or admired? Everyone is different. The best way to do this is to start keeping a log of the times you experienced the fight or flight response. Jot down in a journal or in an app like Google Keep these times, including: -- What was the triggering event? -- How long did it take to calm down? Over time, your therapist will likely recommend that you also track “what was the automatic thought,” or the instant thought that just popped in to your mind that might have made you feel even worse (such as “everyone here is going to hate me.” Or “They all think I’m stupid.” Or “I need to determine my life’s purpose or else I’m a failure.”) Your therapist can help you identify themes and come up with alternative cognitions or thoughts to battle these automatic thoughts. - Learn more about social anxiety. It is completely normal to feel anxiety around new people or people we already know. Often this stems from a worry about being judged or about being disliked. It seems like social anxiety has increased dramatically since the onset of the COVID 19 Pandemic since many of us have had more limited interaction and spending time with strangers was *literally* unsafe prior to vaccines (and even since then for some). As such, it is important to know that you are not alone in this. When you see people walk into a social situation with a smile and a warm handshake, often they are employing the “fake it ‘til you make it” approach. Further, we live in a society that makes us all feel like we need to be extroverts, whereas it is just fine to be a person who only needs a few close friends instead of a large group. Oftentimes when we are in our 20s we start to recognize whether we are the kind of person who feels recharged after spending time with others (extrovert) or who feels recharged after spending time alone (introverts). There is no one right way. - Reducing symptoms of trauma. This may include nightmares, intrusive thoughts, feeling like you are constantly in danger (“hypervigilance”), and other not-so-fun ways that our brains are trying to protect us. Your Better Help counselor will be able to help you understand these symptoms and use evidence-based methods to reduce them. While waiting, you may want to look at the free app made in the VA: PTSD Coach to start learning about the effects of trauma (it’s an app that is free for everyone; not just military combat veterans). You may not have any traumatic events in your past, but I’m noting this one just in case :) - Coping with loneliness and increasing your social network. It’s possible that you have fallen in to a fantastic friend group and that this isn’t a problem for you, but if you are lonely and needing help increasing your social network, this is another great task your therapist can help with. Further, your therapist will be kind and empathic – the kind of person you can tell anything. Sometimes just being able to open up can help us feel so much better (especially if you are having trouble trusting others). Bottom line, there are ways to feel better. Even if you just start with one of these ideas, you and your therapist can collaborate to help you cope and function better. I am wishing all the best for you and hope the next years bring you happiness and joy! Best regards, Julie   Note: If you are in crisis and feeling like hurting yourself, please call 911, go to your closest emergency department, or call the suicide hotline (the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline) immediately at 800-273-8255. You could also go to their website to chat at https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/.    
Answered on 07/26/2022

How can I de-stress when life is very stressful, I'm broke, and my health is in a questionable state?

Hi Brandon, Thank you so much for reaching out! I can definitely understand and see how that extra added stress of being unemployed and having financial stress has created some of those other issues for you. Our mind and bodies are linked so intricately and lots of mental health problems end up showing up in the body in the form of headaches, nausea, vomiting, tightness feelings in one's chest, fatigue, issues with sleep and appetite, etc. For many people, when they tend to stuff these emotions, or hold onto them without seeking outside support that is when they show up in those extreme ways in our body. With that being said, there is definitely hope for these things. Even though there are always going to be stressful life, there are many ways to cope and deal with those things so that they don't feel so heavy. First off, many people who have ADHD do much better when they have a high level of structure and routine in their lives. It sounds like you have had some time without a full time career, which likely created a huge gap for you as far as time goes. When we have times without that intense level of structure, trying to create our own can help us not only feel like we are having healthier habits, but also giving us the sense of accomplishment that often can help with out mood. In addition to having structure and a routine, having the ability to reach out to others and ask for support can be huge. You noted that you have a person in your life that you love, and its totally ok to open up to them and reach out if you feel like you need some support, or even opening up to other friends, family, or even a therapist to discuss your stress can be helpful. In addition, having positive skills that you like to use can be helpful, such as hobbies, sports, activities, or anything else that you find tends to provide some calm or comfort. You absolutely can still have a happy and healthy life with ADHD, and it's ok if you need some extra support like medications or therapy to learn ways to live the best version of your life!
(LMSW)
Answered on 06/02/2022

How do I find and remain focused on a daily basis and follow through without constant sidetracks?

Hello KR, It is much to your credit that you write, "I am trying to better myself for myself and my boyfriend."  This is a very worthwhile goal, and you are lucky to be in a relationship that means so much to you.  It seems that you are struggling with a combination of things, including trouble focusing and perhaps having negative thoughts about yourself.  In therapy you will have a chance to examine a number of your thoughts and symptoms, and to explore your concerns.  You will be able to analyze what is at the root of your struggle, in order to work toward improving your thoughts, your self-talk, and your productivity.  Everyone's mind is different, and it's important to address your symptoms and to develop a customized plan.  One therapist on BetterHelp describes this as an "owner's manual for your mind."  You may or may not have ADHD or ADD, or you may have anxiety that causes you to have trouble focusing.  Anxiety and depression tend to overlap with attention problems.  When a person is overwhelmed and unable to focus or accomplish things, they may become anxious and depressed. I would like to know more about your feelings about your productivity.  Does this mean that you struggle with employment?  And in therapy, it would be good to follow up with your statement about "... my thoughts do become my reality."  One aspect of therapy I like to emphasize is that we are not our thoughts.  Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) helps to focus on our thoughts, to become more mindful, and to keep engaging in life in a positive direction, while still noticing that we can have thoughts and feelings that can be painful at times.  One of the goals of therapy is to work on self-acceptance.  You are more than your productivity.  Perhaps you are at a time in your life when you are evaluating yourself, thinking about your future, and that is why you are considering therapy.  You may be starting to look for areas you feel passionate about, planning for work or school.  Once you find the right fit for your interests and values, you will be able to focus better, because you will be more content and fulfilled.    I highly encourage you to share your story and your thoughts and feelings in therapy.
(Psy.D., M.P.H., LMHC)
Answered on 05/11/2022

I just recently discovered I might have adhd but I have not been tested.

Hey there, Peace Girl! Thank you for reaching out with your question! Wondering about ADHD as a potential diagnosis that you carry can be something that is confusing, relieving, frustrating, pretty much all of the emotions in between! You've been noticing that you deal with issues being on time, struggle with tasks that other adults feel are normal to do (maybe things like structuring day to day living, chores, etc), procrastination, getting lost in interesting but not necessarily pressing tasks, starting endeavors but not every completing them just because you're interested in them, but then getting looped into a new interest, having trouble keeping your space organized, and getting overwhelmed in your environment easily. Those definitely sound like some signs that you could be, at the very least, experiencing some executive dysfunction! The fact that you are not feeling comfortable in your own skin is a huge sign that you should be looking for an evaluation to see if ADHD is a factor in why you're feeling this way.  Often, we see ADHD in childhood when kids enter school and they start to have trouble focusing and staying on task. However, this isn't the case for everyone. Some children do very well in school because it is structured and they are able to "mask" the symptoms due to the structure and resources that are provided to them through school. Those symptoms start to become more apparent usually in college or when someone starts their first "adult" job or becomes a parent for the first time. Those experiences require a lot of high level attention and executive functioning skills that may be difficult for a person with ADHD to "fake". Because of that, that person may become exceptionally overwhelmed, feel like there is something wrong with them, feel symptoms of guilt and shame, and may even develop symptoms of other mental health disorders.
(MA, NCC, LPC)
Answered on 05/09/2022

How can I get help if I have been diagnosed with ADHD?

Good afternoon there The. My name is Joanna and I am a therapist here at BetterHelp. Thank you for reaching out with your question which I have read through carefully. The exact cause of ADHD is not quite known but as you have began to observe the condition can run in families. I would wonder if you have felt able to have this conversation with your Father as yet to see if he recognises any traits in him self or have you yet to think about this. I really do get a sense of frustration with your experiences of productivity and I am absolutely sure to agree with you that it is not based on stupidity. As I have mentored some students with ADHD I feel that it is useful to understand that these students are capable of learning and productivity given the right environment and support. I feel that these situations are not replicated for young students who have not been diagnosed, and so it feels that they have to struggle on thinking that they are somehow responsible for their issues with academia or other work ventures. There are ways to help those with ADHD be able to focus and really get the best from themselves through a form of solution focus approach. For adults with a diagnosis there is also the possibility for the use of prescribed medication and then the use of talking therapies such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. As a therapist here I am able to help with the beginnings of CBT to work alongside to and support your journey to diagnosis and beyond. I hope that this feels a little bit useful for you, please do know that you are not alone as there are many who live and thrive with this condition.. it is really knowing the right support and information to make your day to day more comfortable and manageable. Please do take care. Jo
(Degree, in, Integral, Therapeutic, Counselling, Foundation, Degree, in, Mental, Health, Science)
Answered on 05/06/2022

How can I manage my time between games and helping when I have ADHD and it is hard to keep focused

Hi Sha, It sounds like from your question that you want to be helpful and feel useful to your wife since you are currently unemployed and gaming can get in the way of achieving that for you.  I have found that individuals diagnosed with ADHD can focus for long periods of time on things they enjoy such as gaming and have more difficulty focusing on everyday tasks; so it makes sense that this may be a struggle for you.  It is easy to become distracted by things as well.    I would recommend making a list of chores around the house that need to be done and breaking them down into small steps and do them one at a time.  This may make them seem more manageable.  I would also recommend chunking up your time; don't try to get all the chores done at once but a few steps in for example in 15 or 30 minutes. Set a time on your phone for uninterrupted time and see what works best for you.  You can also think about your day and identify when you are most productive.  Are you able to get more things done in the morning or afternoon?  After you have identified that you can make a schedule to plan out your day and what tasks need to be done.  Use your love of gaming as a reward for yourself when you complete a set number of tasks or certain time amount.  Other things to consider are working towards a healthy lifestyle and focus on your diet, exercise and sleep.  Having mastery over these things will help reduce symptoms of ADHD on a daily basis.  Try reducing or eliminating sugar, caffiene, alcohol and smoking.  Make sure you are getting enough sleep and the amount of sleep that is right for you.  Movement and exercise is also important if you have hyperactivity symptoms as well.  It can help you use some of that energy.  Movement can also help you focus more on tasks you need to complete, so give yourself some breaks and make sure you move. Implementing some of these ideas will help you feel more successful and I am sure your wife will appreciate your help.
(CSW-PIP, LCSW)
Answered on 05/04/2022

What is the recommended ADHD therapy/counseling

Hello RM, thank you for your question. I understand that you have been diagnosed with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) as an adult and tried therapy to help manage some of the problems. However, you say that it has not been efficient for you. I understand the struggle and frustration when this happens. When you feel that your treatment is not working the first place to start is to talk to your therapist. He or she may be able to adjust their therapeutic approach, add more homework, teach more skills, change the treatment or refer you to someone else. It's completely ok for you to ask questions and to say that you are not improving. Having this discussion may help you start to see results without having to start over. It’s also important to note that much like a medical condition, often times the first treatment may not work, but you wouldn’t give up trying a different treatment for a medical condition if the first one didn’t work. Most people keep trying until they find the one that works for them. This is the same when it comes to mental health conditions.  It's hard to say what type of therapy is most effective for ADHD because it really depends on each individual person. Studies have shown that Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) has worked for many individuals with ADHD. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy provides you with skills that teach you to manage a lot of the behavioral problems that ADHD creates for you along with learning to manage thoughts and feelings that create the problems. A good CBT therapist will help you create a plan that targets problematic behaviors that affect your work, relationships, and overall performance. The therapist will consistently check in with you and make adjustments as needed. I also have to mention that for many people, therapy alone is not sufficient in treating ADHD. Many individuals require medication to help them manage the problems. If you are working with a diligent therapist, he or she will know when to refer you to a psychiatrist in order to determine if you would be a good candidate for medication. A combination of therapy and medication have shown to be the most effective treatment when it comes to ADHD.
Answered on 06/01/2021

Where mindfulness falls short

Mindfulness is a wonderful tool that is successful for people of many ages, across many cultures and spaces. Mindfulness is most commonly used in Western society as a non-religious type of meditation and grounding. Still, the roots of “mindfulness” are actually in Eastern religions like Buddhism and Hinduism. Mindfulness entails slowing down your thoughts and focusing entirely on the present, including what is happening in your body and directly around you. As quoted from https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/topic/mindfulness/definition, “ Mindfulness also involves acceptance, meaning that we pay attention to our thoughts and feelings without judging them—without believing, for instance, that there’s a “right” or “wrong” way to think or feel in a given moment. When we practice mindfulness, our thoughts tune into what we’re sensing in the present moment rather than rehashing the past or imagining the future.” This can go wrong because some people really struggle to be in the present and to shut off thoughts and focus on one task. People with difficulty holding attention, such as those diagnosed with ADHD, may struggle to find the benefit of meditation because it might be a hard practice to learn and master. That does not mean it is impossible; mindfulness practice is helpful for most people and can be adapted for individual needs—many mindfulness meditations, including guided meditation or imagery, assist in relaxation and increase focus. People also go wrong thinking that mindfulness practices will work the first time. Many of the skills take repetition and practice to master. It is also not the best coping skill to use when you are already in a full panic attack or a hyperarousal state, as your body is resistant to calming down when it perceives a threat. Mindfulness is best practiced when you are feeling calm and have time to commit to it. That way, when you are starting to get anxious, the skills will be most effective and will be accessible to you. There are many uses of mindfulness that also include a physical component, such as doing deep breathing, stretching or yoga, or progressive muscle relaxation. For some people, particularly those who have experienced traumatic things in their lives, there may be a release of unwanted memories or feelings due to meditation and doing these exercises. The body carries a lot of our stress and repressed memories, and sometimes even the act of making your mind still might cause unwanted memories to flood back or cause tension in your body. If you experience these effects, it is probably a good idea to seek therapy to process what your body has been holding onto and get advice on handling any flooding or intrusive thoughts. 
(M.Ed, LPC)
Answered on 05/03/2021

Can childhood trauma cause adhd?

Childhood trauma, meaning trauma caused before the age of 18, can affect people in many ways.  Trauma shapes the way victims feel, think, and act.  One of the ways some persons who have been traumatized as children acting may see themselves behaving is similar to those who have been diagnosed with Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD.  Some persons who have experienced trauma may be diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD.  Symptoms that are shared between ADHD and PTSD are difficulty with keeping attention, poor impulse control, lack of focus, insomnia or difficulty sleeping, distractibility, impulsiveness, irritability, inability to concentrate, poor memory, anxiety, sensitivity to sensory stimuli, mood disorders, lack of self-esteem, and heightened likelihood to use or abuse substances.   Since ADHD and PTSD have many symptoms that are alike, it takes a mental health professional who is trained to properly assess if someone has ADHD, PTSD, neither or both.  If a person has both ADHD and PTSD, the question then becomes, which came first?  Unfortunately, there isn’t a large amount of research on this subject.  However, many experts suggest that PTSD, or trauma, causes ADHD in childhood trauma.  This is because if the child had ADHD first, he or she would have presented with these symptoms before the trauma.  However, trauma rewires the brain, affects development, and creates new habits.  Thus, a growing and developing child may cope in new ways after trauma than they had previously and respond differently to stressful stimuli.  Getting Help for Trauma, ADHD or Both If you have experienced trauma, most research suggests that psychotherapy is the most beneficial form of treatment.  There are numerous forms of trauma therapy that are evidence-based and can be discussed with a counselor.  Any counselor who is trained in trauma therapy should present you with all your options for trauma therapy, not just those that he or she is trained in or can provide to you.  If you suspect or have been diagnosed with ADHD, medication, and psychotherapy are considered a winning combination for treatment.  Working with a psychiatrist, your general practitioner, or doctor for medication is 50 percent.  The second half is working with a therapist to help improve coping and behavior skills.
(LPC-S, LCPC-S, MS)
Answered on 04/26/2021

I am looking for a therapy to cope with my compulsive daydreaming.

Hello! Thank you very much for your question.    I think that if you have already been diagnosed with ADHD and GAD then you know how difficult it is to manage those "what if" thoughts that can turn into full-on daydreams with the anixety and then also the distraction-based or impulsive daydreams with ADHD. Most people daydream, maybe even everyday. But, certain individuals possess the ability to daydream so vividly that they can experience their presence in the imaginary environment of their creation. While experiences of such vivid, active day-dreaming may seem odd to some, they’re extremely commonplace for a lot of people — and, in some cases, depending on a number of factors like severity and frequency, may suggest a psychiatric condition called maladaptive daydreaming, or MD. In addition, these individuals also experience constant compulsions to switch to the fantasy several times during the day, which has led experts to believe that it is a behavioral addiction. However, this is still an evolving area of research, and is yet to be formally recognized as a disorder by the American Psychiatric Association (APA). Those who suffer from this condition reportedly spend almost 60 percent of their waking hours in imaginary worlds of their own creation — but, without losing touch with with the real world, and realizing that it is a fantasy they are immersing themselves into.   MD is a form of dissociating oneself from the real world, and getting absorbed into fantasies and mental imagery comprising vivid alternative universes, usually involving elaborate scenarios — that the individual prefers over reality. People suffering from this condition consider it a disorder because it often interferes with the individuals’ social, academic or professional life, especially so, if they begin to replace human interactions with fantasy.   The fifth Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, or DSM-5, does not recognize MD. So, in the absence of DSM-5 criteria for its diagnosis, there is Somer’s Maladaptive Daydreaming Scale (MDS) to help determine whether an individual is experiencing MD — MDS is a 14-point scale that rates five primary characteristics of the condition: Content and quality (detail) of dreams; Individual’s ability to control their dreams and/or the compulsion to dream; Amount of distress caused by daydreaming; Individual’s perceived benefits of daydreaming; Extent of interference of daydreaming with the individual’s ability to carry out their daily activities. In addition to these, people may also be asked to rate how often they experience MD. Interestingly, researchers on the subject have noted that people suffering from MD also report higher rates of attention-deficit and obsessive-compulsive symptoms along with a history of depression and/or anxiety disorders (as is your presented case, I believe)— although experts are still not sure why.   Experts believe that MD is, generally, a coping mechanism in response to trauma, abuse or loneliness that leads the maladaptive daydreamer to conjure a complex imaginary world for them to escape into in times of distress, or loneliness, or maybe, even helplessness in real life. It is an escapist method of avoiding real interactions with families, friends or colleagues. Experts believe that cognitive behavioural therapy, or talk-therapy that helps people manage their day-to-day problems by changing the way they think and behave, can address their compulsive need to slip into their imagination. In terms of medication, one study had found that fluvoxamine, a drug commonly used to treat OCD, can help control MD as well, which tells me that you are on the right path with medication as well as seeking out CBT therapy. Over the years, a number of online communities of self-diagnosed maladaptive daydreamers have also emerged to help each other out. I think seeking out social supports either virtually or in person is a good defense against this daydreaming as well. If you are interacting with someone or doing something actively, there is less potential for your dayrdreams to take over or grow.   When the medical community formally recognizes the disorder, perhaps, there will be more streamlined and nuanced approaches to treating those held hostage by their daydreams — in fact, in 2014, a Texas student named Cyan Reed had even launched a petition on Change.org urging the APA to acknowledge MD as a disorder. As you stated, maladaptive daydreaming still isn’t an officially recognized condition, but it’s clear that people around the world are experiencing the same symptoms: the hypnotic movements, the plots and characters, and the crippling inability to focus on the real world. As a clinician, there is hope to find out much more about this condition and help the medical profession learn to address it.   I think in the meantime however structuring your day with activities, seeking out a CBT therapist on BetterHelp, engaging social supports, and reminding yourself that you are doing the best you can right now in these very trying times can help change your compulsatory daydreaming. I think meditation can also help, as it guides us to generally see the thoughts or images or feelings that pop up but then redirect our focus to something else. It is a difficult process to do--redirecting thoughts--but I think if you were able to practice this technique with meditation it would prove to be easier to access when the daydreams begin to arise and/or build.    I hope this helps! I trust you know that we at BetterHelp are here for you every step of the way. I wish you all the best! Take care :) 
(MA, LMFT)
Answered on 02/15/2021