In the five decades of his life, Peter Gregory has been a geophysicist, a marketing manager for an auto dealership, a self-employed executive recruiter, and a coach for people with ADHD.
Gregory has taken pride in his openness to new ventures, but also knows it comes at a price. He changed careers because he got bored or burned out easily, he didn't get along with his co-workers, or he would enter into a project without a business plan.
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a childhood condition that can last into adulthood in about one-third of cases.
If you've been diagnosed with ADHD as an adult, chances are good that your doctor has prescribed a medication -- typically a stimulant -- and suggested cognitive behavioral therapy or even a life coach. She might also have suggested a good pocket planner.
Treating ADHD in adults requires a multi-pronged approach. Symptoms are generally treated with medicine.
Two years ago, the now 45-year-old's troubles seemed to come to a head. He was going through a divorce, and his recruiting firm was in the process of closing down.
A few friends who were mental health professionals suggested he attend a seminar on ADHD. He did, and the experience motivated him to seek psychiatric help, take medication for the condition, take better care of himself, join an online forum for others like him, and learn as much as he can about the disorder through seminars and books.
"For the first time in my life, I feel comfortable being me," says Gregory. "I am now able to create a plan, and I'm capable of sticking to it. When I get offtrack, I can get back on easily."
The incidence of ADHD in adults is not as prevalent as it is in children, but studies suggest up to 5% of adults have the disorder, says Russell Barkley, PhD, professor of psychiatry for the Medical University of South Carolina.
In the workplace, he says people with ADHD tend to have lower productivity, are more tardy and delinquent with responsibilities, change jobs more often, and are fired three to four times more often than the average population.
The financial burden of the disorder to the workplace is yet to be determined, adds Barkley, saying such information is in the "cutting edge of research."
According to Children and Adults With Attention-Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD), some warning signs for ADHD include:
Failing to give close attention to details or making careless mistakes at work
Fidgeting with hands or feet, or squirming in seat
Having difficulty sustaining attention in tasks or fun activities
Leaving seat in situations where seating is expected
Not listening when spoken to directly
Not following through on instructions and failing to finish work
Having difficulty organizing tasks and activities
Feeling "on the go" or "driven by a motor"
Avoiding, disliking, or reluctant to engage in work that requires sustained mental effort
Forgetful in daily duties
For people who think they might have ADHD, Barkley recommends these first steps of action:
Take a screening test online. "If you score high, there's an 80%-90% chance you have the disorder," says Barkley.
Visit a mental health care provider to confirm your results. Make sure the provider has experience working with people with ADHD.
Develop short-term goals, and share them with a friendly coworker or supervisor who can help you become more accountable to your goals.
SOURCES: World Health Organization. American Psychiatric
Association. John Weaver, PsyD, owner of Pscyhology for Business, a workplace
consulting firm. National Sleep Foundation. Meir Kryger, MD, professor of
medicine, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg. Mark Rosekind, PhD, president and
chief scientist, Alertness Solutions. Anxiety Disorders Association of America.
Jeffrey P. Kahn, MD, clinical psychiatrist, author, Mental Health and
Productivity in the Workplace. Rudy Nydegger, PhD, professor of psychology,
Union College, Schenectady, N.Y. Lawrence S. Brown, Jr. MD, MPH, president,
American Society of Addiction Medicine. U.S. Department of Health and Human
Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. WebMD
Feature: "Internet to Sex: Defining Addiction." Angie Moore, licensed
counselor in the treatment of alcohol, drug, and gambling addiction;
spokeswoman, Illinois Institute for Addiction Recovery. Russell Barkley, PhD,
professor of psychiatry for the Medical University of South Carolina.Children
and Adults With Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. WebMD Feature:
"Adult ADHD: More Controversy, Treatments."