The Whole View, Episode 481: Attention Deficit Disorders & ADHD in Relationships

Welcome to episode 481 of The Whole View! This week, Matt joins Stacy and Dr. Sarah to talk about his struggles with ADHD and cover questions about managing partners with ADHD in relationships.

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The Whole View, Episode 481: Attention Deficit Disorders & ADHD in Relationships

 

Past shows:

 

Sarah Summarizes the Science

Symptoms of ADD/ADHD are broadly categorized into inattentive, hyperactive and impulsive symptoms, or combined. (16:01)

Inattentive ADHD

The nine symptoms associated with the predominantly inattentive presentation of ADHD are (diagnostic 6 out of 9):

  • Fails to give close attention to details or makes careless mistakes in schoolwork, at work, or during other activities (e.g., overlooks or misses details, turns in inaccurate work).
  • Has difficulty sustaining attention in tasks or play activities (e.g., difficulty staying focused during lectures, conversations, or lengthy reading).
  • Often does not seem to listen when spoken to directly (e.g., the mind seems elsewhere, even without any obvious distraction).
  • Often does not follow instructions and fails to finish schoolwork, chores, or duties in the workplace (e.g., starts tasks but quickly loses focus and is easily sidetracked).
  • Has difficulty organizing tasks and activities (e.g., struggle to manage sequential tasks, keep materials and belongings in order, organize work, manage time, and meet deadlines).
  • Often avoids, dislikes, or is reluctant to engage in tasks that require sustained mental effort (e.g., schoolwork or homework; for older adolescents and adults, this may include preparing reports, completing forms, reviewing lengthy papers).
  • Often loses things necessary for tasks or activities (e.g., school materials, pencils, books, tools, wallets, keys, paperwork, eyeglasses, mobile telephones).
  • Easily distracted by extraneous stimuli (for older adolescents and adults, this may include unrelated thoughts).
  • Is often forgetful in daily activities (e.g., doing chores, running errands; for older adolescents and adults, this may include returning calls, paying bills, keeping appointments).

Hyperactive & Impulsive ADHD

The main signs of hyperactivity and impulsiveness are (diagnostic 6 out of 9):

  • Fidgets with or taps hands or feet or squirms in seat.
  • Often leaves seat in situations when expected to remain seated (e.g., leaves their place in the classroom, in the workplace, or in other situations that require remaining in place).
  • Often runs about or climbs in situations where it is inappropriate. (Note: In adolescents or adults, this may manifest as feeling restless.)
  • Unable to play or engage in leisure activities quietly.
  • Is often “on the go,” acting as if “driven by a motor” (e.g., is unable to remain still — in restaurants or meetings, for example — for any extended time without significant discomfort; others may say the patient is restless, fidgety, or difficult to keep up with).
  • Often talks excessively.
  • Blurts out an answer before a question has been completed (e.g., completes people’s sentences).
  • Often, they have difficulty waiting for their turn (e.g., while waiting in line or speaking in conversations).
  • Interrupts or intrudes on others (e.g., butts into conversations, games, or activities; may start using other people’s things without asking or receiving permission; for adolescents and adults, may intrude into or take over what others are doing).

Combination Type is 6 out of 9 for BOTH lists!

In terms of symptom prevalence, the data divide into types ADHD-I, ADHD-H, and ADHD-C.

 

Interestingly, people develop coping strategies when they grow up with ADD/ADHD, making many of the symptoms more subtle, so some experts think the list of symptoms needs to be adapted for adults.

 

ADHD Symptoms in Adults

Some specialists have suggested the following as a list of symptoms associated with ADHD in adults: (20:25)

  • carelessness and lack of attention to detail
  • continually starting new tasks before finishing old ones
  • poor organizational skills
  • inability to focus or prioritize
  • continually losing or misplacing things
  • forgetfulness
  • restlessness and edginess
  • difficulty keeping quiet, and speaking out of turn
  • blurting out responses and often interrupting others
  • mood swings, irritability, and a quick temper
  • inability to deal with stress
  • extreme impatience
  • taking risks in activities, often with little or no regard for personal safety or the safety of others – for example, driving dangerously

Lying as a Symptom 

Someone with poor attention is more prone to make a statement without thinking about it first.

For example, you could ask them a question they are not fully paying attention to. They will respond without any awareness of doing so. Later, they may deny their previous statement, not remember their response, or fail to acknowledge any aspect of the conversation.

Someone with poor impulse control may lie as a response to your question or the situation. It comes out of their mouth without appropriate thought attached.

Since impulsivity and hyperactivity tend to increase the speed of the response, there is a greater chance the response will be inaccurate and technically a lie.

 

Related Conditions in Children and Teenagers with ADHD

Although not always the case, some children may also have signs of other problems or conditions alongside ADHD, such as:

  • Anxiety disorder, which causes your child to worry and be nervous much of the time; may also cause physical symptoms, such as a rapid heartbeat, sweating, and dizziness.
  • Oppositional defiant disorder (ODD)- defined by negative and disruptive behavior, particularly towards authority figures, such as parents and teachers.
  • Conduct disorder – this often involves a tendency towards highly antisocial behavior, such as stealing, fighting, vandalism, and harming people or animals.
  • Depression.
  • Sleep problems – finding it difficult to get to sleep at night and having irregular sleeping patterns
  • Autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) – this affects social interaction, communication, interests, and behaviors.
  • Epilepsy – a condition that affects the brain and causes repeated fits or seizures
  • Tourette’s syndrome – a condition of the nervous system, characterised by a combination of involuntary noises and movements (tics).
  • Learning difficulties such as dyslexia.

And for adults, the most common related condition is depression. Other conditions that adults may have alongside ADHD include:

  • personality disorders – conditions in which an individual differs significantly from the average person in terms of how they think, perceive, feel or relate to others
  • bipolar disorder – a condition affecting your mood, which can swing from one extreme to another
  • obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) – a condition that causes obsessive thoughts and compulsive behavior

 

Matt’s Experience with ADHD in Relationships

Matt shares his personal struggles with ADHD and how they’ve impacted Stacy, who does not have any neuro-diversity. (25:30)

Stacy has had to put a lot of thought and understanding into the situation and accept that Matt doesn’t do any of these things that might seem simple to her on purpose.

Communication has become a necessity. It helps to view these as conversations revolving around what the other needs to be successful, rather than venting or berating. 

Listener Questions (53:26)

Vaness asks: How do you overcome the forgetfulness? I’m dying to let go of some things that I took on (household chores, kid stuff, etc) but he cannot seem to juggle much else besides work & hubby/dad life. I need him to help, which means remembering to do the dishes without me having to ask him-it’s one more mental thing on my plate, like having another kid 🥴😕 Our non-binary child also has it and we see the same struggles. It’s so tough. Thank you for doing this! 💕

Routine is crucial to remember the small things. Alarms are also very helpful, but make sure you do the task when the alarm goes off. Also, be honest about what you can take on. 

Andrada asks: Suggestions for diagnosis as an adult. Favorite resources to help spouse & self. Your comment about white lies due to anxiety really hit home to me in addition to other issues that have gotten worse as I age.

Stephanie asks: I feel like we’re not communicating well.

Support groups are very helpful for this. You can do these in person or online. Matt also sees a therapist with ADHD, so they are familiar with the struggles and don’t suggest “blanket” solutions (like simply making lists). 

 Meghan asks: I’m the adhd partner and I definitely feel like I’m struggling with my partner even believing that it’s “real.” 🙃 recently dx & medicated, so progression > perfection, but damn man. How to get them to understand?

The biggest thing to understand here is you can’t make someone understand. Try talking about your struggles as they happen to show your partner what they look like in real life. That might help make the situation more “real” to them.

If someone cares about you, they will try to understand you, and if that isn’t something they are willing to do, they might not be the right partner for you.

 

Final Thoughts

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