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Stress and Work-related Mental Illness Among Working Adults with ADHD

ADHD_Adults_workplace Stress and Work-related Mental Illness Among Working Adults with ADHD - Play Attention - turn your ADHD into Superpowers | Play Attention - turn your ADHD into Superpowers

A qualitative study published in BMC Psychiatry confirms what most adults with ADHD already know; on average, they underperform professionally, are more stressed, and have more days of sickness absence compared to adults without ADHD. The study, however, offers the non-ADHD adult an insight into the difficulties an ADHD adult experiences daily.

The purpose of this study was to explore the experience of working as an adult with ADHD. Twenty ADHD workforce adults (10 men and 10 women) were interviewed to gain insight about their experiences with and reactions to being diagnosed ADHD. The participants were also asked about how ADHD affects their job performance. Questions were also asked regarding the ADHD workers’ feelings about the impact of their jobs on their mental health and the need for appropriate accommodations.

Salient conclusions from the study include:

Relationships and cooperation

A large majority of participants mentioned experiences of working alongside and together with other people, and how those encounters affected their experiences of working with ADHD. Prominent was the sense of other’s, imagined or true, judgment of oneself. Some participants described coming across as lazy, ignorant, or incompetent, when dysexecutive. 

Negative consequences


Whether participants enjoyed their job, had a good relationship with colleagues, and felt support from management in their vocational aspirations, they all described indisputable negative consequences of ADHD, related to their work. These consequences included negative effects on family and recreation, loss of jobs, unemployment, and symptoms of mental illness. Most prominent among symptoms of mental illness were anxiety, stress, and exhaustion. 

Other aggravating circumstances

Many participants described circumstances outside work that aggravated the challenges of working with ADHD. Most pronounced were trials related to family and parenthood. Several participants mentioned having children with special needs of their own, and the challenges of working while accommodating them. 

Planning, prioritization, organization, and structure

Many participants experienced great deficiencies in organization and structure at their workplaces, encumbering not only themselves and fellow coworkers with ADHD, but most, if not all, employees. 

Summary

The results of this study assist the reader in understanding how ADHD adults experience their working life, including specific occupational challenges, experiences of previous interventions, current needs, special abilities, and strategies for coping. It is clear that most ADHD adults experience increased stress from their jobs that often leads to increased anxiety. 

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