For the person with ADHD there is an additional challenge to manage – the regulation of cognition. Some adults with ADHD can function in life just fine, particularly when their job is in an area that reflects their passion and provides their particular brain with the stimulation it prefers.

However, for many adults with ADHD the brain’s tendency toward low motivation, disorganization, executive function difficulties, and poor response to low stimulation activities, will interfere with their educational and occupational goals.

They may very well have the ability to perform certain functions/ jobs, however the brain system that manages planning, follow through, inhibition, and initiation seems to consistently trip them up. In response, other people may view them as irresponsible and/or lazy.

This is of course an unfair label to place on a person with ADHD when in actuality it is a neurological process (how their brain functions) that is responsible for their status.

ADHD can present in different manners, hence, not all individuals with the condition are hyperactive and disinhibited (etc). Some individuals may be quieter, less disinhibited however with significant attention problems.

Others may have mood and/ or behavior regulation difficulties accompanying their cognitive symptoms. However, what has been found is that they all share the symptoms of cognitive regulation difficulties.

Treatments For ADHD

There are treatments available that can help considerably with the symptoms. For example, stimulant medications are often prescribed that will alter neurotransmitters (brain chemistry) and activate areas of the brain that may not have been as active on its own.

However, stimulant medications may not work well for all individuals with the condition, as some people may respond with mood changes (e.g., irritability). In such cases, the treating physician will need to give consideration to other medications that will assist with the self regulation symptoms without disrupting the individual’s emotional status.

Medications are one mode of treatment an adult can consider to manage their symptoms. In conjunction to medication, compensatory strategies, education regarding ADHD, and awareness into the person’s specific cognitive profile is quite helpful in assisting them in making decisions for their future. It tends to be best that one considers working WITH their system rather than against it, even when medicated.

For example, a person (with ADHD) who works in a fast pace environment within a field that ignites his/her passion, may function very well and become extremely successful.

However, that same individual may not experience the same level of success and in fact may experience frustration and failure if he forced himself into a job that required the same daily routine and large amounts of paper work. In job number one he/she is working with their system rather than against it.

The point is that adults with ADHD will need to give consideration to what works best for them individually, rather than what is expected of most adults. They need to keep in mind that they are unique and that not all with ADHD will have the same preferences.

There are some that will require very quiet, calm environments in order to get their work done. While, there are others who actually function best with background noise and activity. There is no one size fits all when it comes to treatment (e.g., medications) or life choices (e.g., jobs).

Originally posted on: 3 February 2012
Last updated on: 18 February 2024
Rhonda Freeman

Rhonda Freeman

I am a Clinical Neuropsychologist licensed in Florida. I earned my PhD in psychology, specializing in neuropsychology, from Drexel University’s APA accredited program in Pennsylvania. I completed my pre-doctoral internship at Norristown State Hospital, where I trained within the neuropsychology track evaluating the cognitive and emotional status of patients diagnosed with psychiatric conditions (e.g., schizophrenia, psychopathy, depression, PTSD, and bipolar disorder).

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