Unlocking ADHD writer Mrunmayee Garole examines what could happen if ADHD remains untreated in adults.
Adults with ADHD often face symptoms such as inattention, hyperactivity, making impulsive decisions and many more. It is usually much easier to manage your symptoms once you get the right treatment for it.
But what happens if these symptoms go untreated? These might be some of the common thoughts running in the minds of untreated ADHDers:
- ‘Why do I always have a lot on my mind yet am unable to focus on anything in particular?’
- ‘How come I often start tasks, but never finish them?’
- ‘Why can I only focus for a short time when I need to pay attention for 2-3 hours?’
They may seem like fairly common experiences for everyone, but ADHDers feel it much more intensely. Suppose there is a 25-year-old-guy named Peter, who is unable to prioritize his work even after working hard, attending seminars and having a pleasant work environment.
But what if Peter continues to act in the same way regardless of the consequences? There must be something more than laziness, nonchalance, etc. Thus, it is important that people with ADHD seek the help they need. ADHD is, after all, a neurodevelopmental disorder, not a choice.
What are the effects of Untreated ADHD?
Personal Life and Relationships
Our personal life is full of relationships, managing and handling emotions, helping others and so on. A person’s personal life and work life are usually compartmentalized, but undiagnosed ADHDers struggle to maintain this balance and tend to mix-up everything. Sorting these out becomes even more challenging as it demands concentrating on and completing existing tasks before moving on to new ones.
Work life balance is another challenge for untreated/undiagnosed ADHDers. They are unable to finish their projects on time, have a hard time prioritizing work and making decisions, etc. There is a constant battle in the ADHDer’s brain between work and the distraction, in which distraction often wins. Moreover, untreated ADHDers may also struggle to work in the same occupation for a long period of time.
Financial stability means properly investing hard earned money, which necessitates an awareness of possible risks involved. Poor decision making has the greatest impact in this area as decisions are often made impulsively. Another factor which also has a significant impact is the ‘Just do it’ attitude’, which appears to be more like impulsive behavior. If left untreated, this ‘Just do it’ attitude may push ADHDers to behave without thinking, leading to more serious effects.
Lastly, all these factors have an impact on the most important aspect, which is mental health. A person may feel that something’s not going right, but as there is yet to be an identified root cause or diagnosis, there seems to be no justification for things ‘not going right’.
This eventually increases self-doubt and self-questioning behaviour such as pondering “Why is this all happening to me?”, which can lead to less confidence and lowered self-esteem. To put it simply, people may actually be causing themselves harm just because they are unaware of the actual reasons.
Research by Samuel R Chamberlain suggests that “if ADHD symptoms are common and under-diagnosed, these adults are prone to have impulsivity and emotional dysregulation”. It is difficult to manage oneself if one is unaware of the condition. Identification and awareness makes the condition more bearable and less stressful.
Mental well-being requires not just empowering one’s strengths but also recognizing and managing one’s vulnerabilities. We may all have had some of these experiences, but this does not imply that you must have ADHD. If you feel your symptoms are affecting your daily routine and work, consult a professional to seek the help you need. Getting a diagnosis may not be the cure, but it is a blessing for those who suffer without knowing, and a first step towards managing their ADHD.