We normally associate ADHD with young children. The condition is however also prevalent in adults, and not only affects their daily activities and career, but also their relationships.
Fidgeting, a lack of concentration, inability to finish a task, a short attention span and impulsive behaviour – these were once thought of as something only occurring in young children and teenagers. But according to research published in the South African Medical Journal, up to 65% of children with ADHD will carry on displaying ADHD symptoms into adulthood.
Nowadays there is a bigger awareness of the prevalence of adult ADHD, and with more research being done medical professionals now realise how profoundly ADHD can impact the lives of adults.
A big challenge is when a partner misinterprets ADHD symptoms. Symptoms in adults differ from those in children, making diagnosis harder. A person might not even know that their spouse suffers from ADHD. According to a Health24 article, ADHD is often misdiagnosed in both children and adults, making it difficult to determine the cause of your partner's troublesome behaviour.
If your spouse is diagnosed with ADHD, there are some practical tips on how to cope, according to Dr Renata Schoeman, our ADHD-expert and registered psychiatrist.
1. Do adequate research
If your partner suffers from ADHD, educate yourself properly. Understand the symptoms and the cause, as well as when certain behaviour patterns are likely to be triggered or aggravated.
2. Discuss a proper treatment plan
ADHD is a disorder that requires proper treatment. Seek medical help or help from a counsellor and discuss the steps for treatment.
3. Empathise with your partner
While it can be hard to maintain a relationship when your spouse seems absent or distracted, remember that this is not about you, but in fact, symptoms of a disorder. A person with ADHD often experiences feelings of disappointment and frustration, which can be mistaken as being selfish. Take a step back and get a more objective view of the situation.
4. Focus on the positives
Don’t focus too much on relationship problems connected with your partner’s ADHD. Focus on their wonderful qualities, things that make you laugh, the good times and why you became a couple in the first place.
5. Don't tolerate excuses
While changes in behavioural patterns are inevitable in ADHD sufferers, your partner should take responsibility for the situation. Empathy is important, but your partner also needs to take action.
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