Dr. Seth Meyers, Clinical Psychologist

Dr. Seth Meyers, Clinical Psychologist

Friday, February 27, 2009

Loving Someone Who Has Adult ADHD

This is the fourth and final essay in my series on what it’s like to love someone with mental illness. There are many different types of mental illness, but this series focuses on four of the most common mental illness. In addition, these are four of the most common illnesses I see in my practice.

In short, there are three different types of ADHD, what used to be known as ADD. ADHD is short for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. The three types include one where the sufferer’s problem is a lack of attention, the second where the sufferer’s problem is hyperactivity, and the third where the sufferer’s problem is both poor attention and hyperactivity.

For the sufferer of this disorder, there is a major interference in the ability to function in significant areas of their life (work, social, etc.) if the disorder goes on medicated. With medication, the sufferer can function pretty well, and in some cases, very well.

For the loved ones of the sufferers, the disorder going unmedicated can cause significant frustration. The loved ones often feel bothered by their loved one’s inability to listen, work and complete projects, remember things, or sit still. The disorder, in this respect, can cause problems in relationships.

I have worked with clients whose symptoms cause their loved one to call me on the phone and complain about how their partner’s symptoms are interfering with things at home. Projects don’t get started or completed, and sometimes simple tasks are forgotten. For those who have the hyperactive type of the disorder, the loved ones often feel frustrated that their partners can’t seem to relax and need to be doing a thousand things at the same type.

It is important to understand that medication often successfully treats this disorder. If your loved one is unmedicated, it may be helpful to direct the sufferer to a mental health professional who can help. If your loved one is already medicated and the disorder still negatively impacts your life, try to find ways to make it more bearable. Talk with your partner about your frustrations and try together to come up with ways to make things more manageable in your life together. Finally, it never hurts to do research online, at the bookstore, or at the library to find ways to cope with your frustration. Though you can’t control your partner, you can control your own actions. Exercise and talking to friends can be great ways to blow off steam when you are negatively impacted by your loved one’s disorder.

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