NCPA Tree Logo


Northern County Psychiatric Associates

Attention Deficit Disorder
Adult AD/HD
Children & Adolescents
Family Issues
Organization Skills

Children & Adolescents
Seasonal Depression

Bipolar Disorder
Family Issues

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
Body Dysmorphic Disorder
Separation Anxiety Disorder

Specific Medications
Free Medication Programs

For Kids and Teens
Family therapy


Women's Mental Health

Mental Health Book Reviews


Managed Care Humor

Search Our Site by Key Words

Enter the word or phrase to search for:
Only match whole words

Our Privacy Policy





































Adult Attention Deficit Disorder: Diagnosis, Coping and Mastery

Glenn Brynes Ph.D., M.D. and Carol Watkins, M.D.

Adult Attention Deficit Disorder: Diagnosis, Accommodation and Mastery

Girls, Women and ADHD

Stimulant Medications in AD/HD

Treatment of GIrls and Women with AD/HD

Strattera (atomoxetine)

Taking Your AD/HD To College

How ADHD Can Affect Marriage And Family 

Gardening Tips for People with AD/HD

Coping Styles in ADD Adults

Neurobiological Diagnosis and Personal Responsibility: How Does Morality Fit in with ADD?

ADHD and Medication: the Basics  

Book Reviews: Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

New Medications for Adults with ADHD or ADD

ADD in Adults: It Doesn't Travel Alone (Comorbidity)

See our Collection of Reviewed Links to Other ADHD Web Sites


Search Our Site by Key Words

Enter the word or phrase to search for:
Only match whole words
Not sure of how a word is spelled?
Enter the first few letters of the word:


Read Our Collection of Original Articles on Adult and Pediatric AD/HD

Adult Attention Deficit Disorder: Diagnosis, Coping and Mastery

Glenn Brynes Ph.D., M.D. and Carol Watkins, M.D.

In the past, Attention Deficit Disorder was believed to be a condition that affected children and some adolescents. Although it was known that children with AD/HD were more likely to have difficulties in adulthood, clinicians usually diagnosed and treated these as other conditions. During the past two decades, we have recognized attention deficit disorder in older adolescents and adults.  

The diagnosis of Attention Deficit Disorder in adults can be a complex process. By definition, AD/HD is a condition that has its onset in childhood. Not everyone has an accurate recall of his or her early life. Often it is useful to get information from relatives, spouse or old school records.  

As the child moves from adolescence to adulthood, the predominant symptoms of AD/HD tend to shift from external, visible ones (such as physical hyperactivity) to internal symptoms. There seems to be a decrease in observable symptoms of AD/HD with age. Although a given adult may not meet the full DSM-IV criteria for full AD/HD any longer, he or she may still experience significant impairment in certain aspects of life. Depending of professional or domestic situation, the adult may need to deal with more complex, abstract issues. A given individualís perception of his or her degree of impairment may vary.  

Many adults were never correctly diagnosed, even when they were children. Sometimes this was because their main symptoms were inattention and impulsivity rather than physical hyperactivity. In other cases, the individual used his or her high intelligence or great determination to mask the AD/HD symptoms. Often this compensation occurred at great emotional cost Many high-functioning individuals with AD/HD may harbor feelings of poor self-worth. They may see themselves as failures and feel that they constantly let others down. Over the years, the individual adapts to the situation. These adaptations, positive or negative, become part of oneís personality, layered over the AD/HD symptoms. 

Adults with AD/HD are often bored with tedious, repetitive tasks. They may also trouble with planning and organization. Procrastination is common. Impulsivity may lead to frequent job changes, troubled romantic relationships, financial problems and a tendency to interrupt others. College students may have trouble staying focused on paperwork or lectures. The AD/HD adult often becomes frustrated or angry rapidly, but may cool off equally quickly. He or she is then left wondering why everyone else is still upset at the blow up. Because of difficulties following through on commitments, the individual is often called selfish and immature.  

There is no magic cure for AD/HD, but many adults learn to manage it successfully. Treatment is often multi-modal. The most important starting point is an accurate diagnosis of the AD/HD and any associated medical and psychiatric conditions. Following the diagnosis, the individual should educate himself about the condition. Self-knowledge is necessary in order to learn coping and develop mastery. Adults often respond to the same medications used to treat AD/HD children. However, one may need to consider the adultís size, and associated medical conditions and his or her other medications.  New medications are expanding our ability to treat AD/HD with fewer side effects.

Treatment often involves teaching the adult to structure his or her life, while allowing for some spontaneity. Time management and planning are important skills. Daily planners and task lists are beneficial. Often the individual can enlist the help of family or coworkers to help him stay organized. It is important that the adult with AD/HD chose a vocation that suits his or her interests and personality style. It is often best to avoid jobs that emphasize weaknesses such as repetitive tasks, and find jobs that focus on oneís energy, and ability to shift from task to task. Individuals who experience physical restlessness should try to schedule regular exercise or work breaks. College students who need accommodations need to inform their school early, before problems arise. Examples of accommodations include untimed tests, the use of tape recorders in lectures or the right to take attests in a less distracting setting. Schools often require psychological testing to support special accommodations.  

There has been increasing awareness that adults and children with AD/HD are at increased risk for other psychiatric disorders. Adults have lived longer than children, and thus have had more time to develop other associated psychiatric disorders. Often one must treat the other conditions before treating the AD/HD.  

While AD/HD can be a burden for some, it can also be a gift. If it were an entirely negative trait, it would have died out thousands of years ago. Individuals with AD/HD are often energetic, creative and willing to take risks. Often this gift comes into focus after the individual acquires a degree of self-knowledge and learns to channel his energy and creativity.    

Northern County Psychiatric Associates
Offices in Monkton and Lutherville, Maryland

Contact Us:
Fax: 410-343-1272
Postal address: We have two locations in Baltimore County
      Monkton Office16829 York Road/PO Box 544/Monkton, MD 21111
      Lutherville Office: 2360 West Joppa Road Suite 223/ Lutherville, MD
Email: [email protected]
Please use telephone for appointments or medical questions.

Carol Watkins, M.D.
Glenn Brynes, Ph.D., M.D.

Copyright © 2003  Northern County Psychiatric Associates
Last modified: October 07, 2007
Featured Links

 Pictures of pills
Daytrana: New Skin Patch Treatment for ADHD

Spontaneous woman
Treating Girls and Women with AD/HD

hands clasping each other
Slides From Our Past Presentations

Boy alone and sad
Is It Still Safe to Treat Kids with Antidepressants?

Prescription pad
Why Do I Take So Many Medications?

faces of children and adults
How Therapy Heals