Navigating adult ADD/ADHD
An estimated 8 million to 9 million American adults have ADHD. And many other people in similar situations struggle on the job.
One national survey showed that only half of adults with ADHD were able to hold down a full-time job, compared to 72% of adults without the disorder. When they were able to secure a job, they tended to earn less than their peers without it. Those job problems translate into nearly $77 billion in lost income each year.
How much ADHD affects your job outlook depends on how severe your condition is. Some people may just have trouble staying on task, while others can't make it through the workday without getting into a huge blow-up with a boss or co-worker. Some people who are more severely affected can lose their job, wind up bouncing from job to job, or need to seek disability benefits.
ADHD affects job performance in a number of ways. If you can't sit still and have trouble with organization and focus, you may find meetings excruciating. Keeping track of multiple projects and deadlines is enormously challenging.
One study showed that people with ADHD often had more trouble with attention, working memory, mental processing, and verbal fluency. These are all called executive-function abilities that are important in the workplace.
How Can You Get and Keep a Job?
Many adults who are restless, aren’t able to concentrate, or have other symptoms have never been formally diagnosed with ADHD. If you have any of the problems listed above, the first step should be to see a doctor who specializes in the treatment of adult ADHD. They can talk to you to see if you do have it. And if you do, diagnose you so that you can get started on the right treatment plan.
People have success with medication, therapy, or both. There are also organizational strategies you can learn from a coach or occupational therapist and then practice.
If you are about to start a job search, work with a career counselor to find a job that best matches your interests, needs, and abilities. That might want to find a more fast-paced job with flexible hours and a less-rigid structure. Or you may want to start your own business so that you can design your own work environment and hours.
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