If someone you know has ADHD, it can be difficult to know when and how to help them. On one hand, you know they struggle with certain tasks that you don’t. On the other hand, you don’t want to infringe on their independence.
Additionally, the level of help differs depending on your relationship. Helping a friend or a colleague with ADHD is different from helping a spouse or someone you live with. However, regardless of your relationship, understanding the condition is the first step to helping someone with ADHD.
If you suspect someone close to you has ADHD, providers on Klarity can help. Encourage your friend or loved one to book a telehealth appointment to discuss their condition and, if indicated, get prescribed medication for their ADHD symptoms.
What is ADHD and its Symptoms?
ADHD, or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, often begins in childhood and can afflict a person throughout their lifetime. ADHD is characterized by an inability to concentrate, along with several other related symptoms. The condition is said to occur in 4% to 5% of adults in the U.S., many of whom remain undiagnosed. If you’re wondering how to help someone with ADHD, it’s important to know whether they actually have the condition.
While they share some symptoms, adult ADHD differs from childhood ADHD and can be more difficult to diagnose. Many adults exhibit a few of the symptoms of ADHD, but those with the disorder often manifest most or all of the following:
- Problems prioritizing tasks
- Inability or trouble focusing on tasks
- Inability to effectively manage time
- Trouble making and sticking to plans
- Extreme impatience
- Quickness to anger/hot temper
- Problems coping with stress
Why People with ADHD Need Help
ADHD in adulthood can be extremely difficult to manage. It can take a toll both in relationships and in professional lives. Many adults with ADHD feel overwhelmed, so understanding their condition and reaching out to them can help considerably.
Helping an adult with ADHD is different than helping a child. Adults with ADHD can be deeply embarrassed by their symptoms, which complicates how you help them. In addition, many ADHD diagnoses are determined in childhood, so an adult may not be aware they have the disorder. ADHD is a confusing disorder, which is why afflicted adults can benefit from help.
Tips for Helping Someone with ADHD
1. Learn About ADHD
The best way to learn how to help someone with ADHD is to learn what you can about the disorder. Navigating life with ADHD can be extremely challenging, and finding someone who understands can be a great relief. Learning about ADHD puts you in a far better position to help.
2. Don’t Act Like a Parent
People with ADHD already have parents; they don’t need another. It’s best to meet them on equal ground, not from a position of authority (whether it’s intentional or not). Parenting those with ADHD can breed resentment and make them resistant to your help.
3. Understand Their Challenges
This goes hand in hand with learning about ADHD. While you learn how to help someone with ADHD, you learn the challenges they face on a daily basis, such as burnout. This allows you to better assist them with, if not overcoming, facing and coping with those challenges.
4. Avoid Minimizing Their ADHD
While you partially understand what someone with ADHD is going through, unless you have the disorder yourself, it can be a challenge to truly put yourself in their shoes. Don’t fall into the trap of saying “it’s not that bad” or, worse, “don’t be lazy.” Chances are it is that bad and that even while the person with ADHD is distracted, they’re working as hard as they can.
5. Help Them Develop a Routine
One of the symptoms of ADHD is disorganization, or trouble putting things in order. Another is poor time management. One of the best ways to help someone with ADHD is to help them build a solid routine. Work with them to plan their day. Celebrate success, even if it’s partial. Once established, a routine can help them with other symptoms of ADHD, such as forgetfulness.
6. Help Them Develop a Support Network
You can’t be the only one offering help. When you find other people in your partner or colleague’s life who are interested in learning how to help someone with ADHD, you’ve relieved yourself of some of the burden while increasing their chances of success. In addition, encourage them to reach out to and become part of local and virtual ADHD support groups. It helps them to know they’re not going through this alone, and they can benefit from the experiences of others who also deal with this disorder.
7. Encourage Them to Seek Help
People struggling with ADHD don’t have to do so alone. While you’re doing your best to help, your assistance in day-to-day life can’t take the place of that provided by a qualified therapist. Help your friend or loved one find a therapist, and encourage them to make and keep an appointment.
Help remind them when the therapy appointment is, so they don’t miss it and potentially miss out on the help a practitioner experienced with ADHD treatment can provide. Along with talk therapy, there are medications that can help reduce symptoms and allow people to live a normal life.
How to Help Someone with ADHD and Anger Issues
Adults with ADHD often exhibit anger, sometimes at those who are trying to help. Figuring out how to best help someone with ADHD involves understanding that they’re likely to get angry from time to time. Your assistance will best benefit them if you work to diffuse the situation.
1. Acknowledge Their Condition Is Real
The symptoms of ADHD can be misunderstood as something everybody goes through from time to time. The difference is that someone afflicted with ADHD doesn’t often feel relief from those symptoms. The first step in diffusing some of the frustration and anger associated with this disorder is simply validating their experience. Acknowledge that you know they’re suffering from ADHD, which is a real medical condition.
2. Help Them Identify Their Triggers
Knowing what triggers one’s anger is the first step in avoiding it. Help your partner or friend identify what causes them to become angry. It could be something as simple as forgetting their keys that escalates their anger to include other people. Or they could be angry at themselves, which is counterproductive. Help them keep track of what causes their anger, then help them figure out how to avoid those situations.
3. Work with Them on Coping Strategies
Living with ADHD can be difficult. However, there are a number of coping strategies that make it less so. For example, you could help your partner or colleague learn to write down tasks so they’re less likely to forget them.
4. Help Them Find Treatment
Proper treatment can make a world of difference to someone with ADHD and may be the best way to help them with their disorder. If they’re undergoing treatment and it’s not working, they may need to find a new therapist. If they’ve not had treatment, now is a good time to start. Help them find a therapist they’ll like, and help them remember to keep appointments. This could be a fresh start toward a manageable life.
You Don’t Have to Go It Alone
Learning how to help someone with ADHD can be an overwhelming experience. Remember that you’re not alone. Klarity has partnered with licensed psychiatrists and healthcare professionals who can help your friend or loved one with their ADHD.
Encourage them to book an online appointment today, and they’ll speak with a psychiatric healthcare provider within 48 hours.