Just What is Adult Add?

An article written by Barry Herbach, LCSW

ADD stands for Adult Attention Deficit Disorder.

This article will explain what it is and how medication is sometimes used to manage it.

It is a disorder of the nervous system characterized by difficulties with as attention, planning, concentration, managing time and tasks, maintaining focus, and making thoughtful decisions.

ADD is not the inability to focus. It is an inability to regulate focus. So if you have ADD you may have difficulty focusing on some tasks, but you will also sometimes have difficulty not focusing, this is called hyper focusing. You may ask, what is wrong with hyper focusing? The problem with over focusing is that you lose track of time to the degree that many other tasks do not get done. It also can create a major time management issue.

When someone with ADD is interested in a topic, there focus shoots sky high, that is until they get bored. This is why it is common for people with ADD to have a lot of unfinished projects or unfinished books. It is not uncommon for some with ADD to be reading several books at the same time, so when they start losing interest they switch books and on and on.

It is even worse if you are not interested in a topic at all. Then getting started and staying with the task can be very difficult.

These are some of the problem areas:

•screening out distractions
•starting and completing tasks
•remembering tasks and plans
•organizing information and belongings
•being on time
•losing focus by being distracted but interesting tasks or topics
•completing obligations on time

There are two major areas where ADD impacts your life.

Regulating Focus:

Difficulty regulating focus creates having extreme to moderate trouble with concentration, trouble following conversations, or “zoning out” without realizing it. Also blurting out and interrupting a lot because you mind is flying with ideas. Finishing tasks might feel impossible, and you might have several tasks started at once without the ability to continue. Of course getting easily distracted or forgetful, leading to errors or incomplete work.


Keeping organization. Keeping things organized at home and work can be an enormous challenge. Areas of your home and/or work space can be get cluttered and messy. Usually it is not your whole home or work space usually it is select areas.

Underestimate the time it takes to complete tasks or having trouble with procrastination is another is with organizing This can also lead to difficulties making completing large projects very difficult. Adults with ADD often also continually forget or lose things.

Is this something to worry about?

ADD is not a serious condition. A lot of very successful people have it. As the first article has shown it does make some things in life difficult. There is a great book “You Mean I’m Not Lazy, Stupid or Crazy? The Classic Self-Help Book for Adults with Attention Deficit Disorder” by Kate Kelly and Peggy Ramundo which is written by two nurses with ADD. The book gives a lot of information and strategies in a very easy to read style. What I think is important to this discussion is the title. It explains why having an understanding that you may have ADD is very important. Because people don’t understand that they have ADD and what it is. Frequently they can feel that they are stupid, crazy or lazy. I think just having this book out there helps dispel this myth.

Making ADHD work for you.

Crushing Stigma of ADHD