Adult ADHD: The Life-Long Journey of Undiagnosed ADHD

Is this you?

You are sitting at your desk at work, but you just can’t focus. You’re trying to start a project but… you don’t know where to begin. You’re juggling emails, meetings, phone calls, along with all your everyday duties – but you find you can’t keep up. As a result, you feel continuously stressed and stuck.

In addition to work stress, you find you have issues with your relationships. You find there are a lot of misunderstandings, frustrations, and resentment coming from both sides. You feel as if you’re constantly being criticized, nagged, and told what to do – you try your best, but that isn’t enough.

So, what’s going on?

Meet Adult ADHD, a mental disorder that affects around 4.4% of adults averaging to a total of 1,500,000 adults in Canada.


Undiagnosed ADHD

There has been a great debate over whether adult-onset ADHD is real. Len Adler, M.D., professor of psychiatry at New York University and one of the leading researchers in adult ADHD, believes that around 75% of adults who have ADHD aren’t aware of it. This lack of knowledge leads to an impact on several areas in one’s life… as we mentioned earlier!

So let’s start at the beginning…


Undiagnosed ADHD in Children

Children with undiagnosed and untreated ADHD will most likely experience many issues both at home and at school. They may have bad grades due to their struggles with attention and have difficulties controlling their emotions that affect their social relationships with their peers. Combined, these will increase their risk of developing low self-esteem or even depression.

As they grow into their teenage years and their ADHD still runs undiagnosed, if the children who didn’t perform well in school – it’s likely they aren’t about to catch up. They will continue to struggle with relationships, may not do so well in the dating world, and they may have issues getting along with their parents.

Especially for girls with ADHD, they pose a higher risk of developing an eating disorder that would be linked to depression or low self-esteem.

Having undiagnosed ADHD can harm an individual’s way of life to great lengths. As some symptoms may start to fade with age, it’s a lifelong problem if it goes untreated.

As they grow into their teenage years and their ADHD still runs undiagnosed, if the once-then children who did not perform well in school – it is likely they are not about to catch up. They also will struggle with relationships – meaning they may not have many friends, may not do well in the dating world, and may have issues getting along with their parents.

For young girls especially, they pose a higher risk of developing an eating disorder that would be linked to depression or low self-esteem.

Having undiagnosed ADHD can harm a person’s way of life to great lengths. As some symptoms may start to fade with age, it will be a lifelong problem if it goes untreated.


Symptoms of Adult ADHD

If this much time has passed and you think you may have ADHD, we recommend getting it diagnosed so that you can have access to the treatment you need! But before we get into that, do you know what the common symptoms of Adult ADHD are?


Adults living with ADHD may:

  • Have time management issues
  • Have difficulty meeting deadlines
    Staying organized
  • Relationship issues with friends and significant others
  • Have issues with their emotional control

If we compare it to whence they were children, their hyperactivity has evolved to a general restlessness; A kid’s impulsivity has masked with time and now comes out through impulsive spending habits, conversation interruptions, and engaging in risky behaviors.

On the other side of things, we need to consider the emotional impact this has on adults. As we’ve mentioned earlier as a response to their symptoms, they’re likely to develop low self-esteem and or depression.

But – what does that mean?


ADHD and the Emotional Effects

Living with an unrecognized and undiagnosed condition like ADHD is bound to make someone question themselves – and probably a lot. We’ve encountered many who’ve said that they felt as if a light has been shined down on them bringing clarity and answers once they have received reasoning for their behaviors and reactions.
The most common emotional effects living with untreated ADHD:

  • Feeling inadequate for anything made them feel as if they were running on fumes.
  • Like they were from outer space as they couldn’t relate or make regular things work.
  • Super paranoid – as if everyone is making fun of them.
  • Like they had tunnel vision. They would be so consumed by one thing for years and left other important aspects of their life fall apart.
  • They felt bored and had trouble holding a job long term.


Neurofeedback for ADHD

Have you heard of Neurofeedback? It’s one of the most clinically effective ways to alleviate and stabilize symptoms of ADHD – along with Life Coaching and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.

And this is all non-invasive and without the use of pharmaceuticals. Once you swallow the pill, you pretty much give up control. Side effects can make you sleepy, nauseous, have an allergic reaction that causes you to break out with a skin reaction… it’s all in the flip of a coin.

With Neurofeedback, you keep your control and train your brain to heal itself rather than teaching it to rely on medication to curb symptoms.


The Science Behind It

People with ADHD tend to generate too much of the slower brain waves, known as Theta brain-waves located in the Frontal Cortex. As a result, those with ADHD have a shortage of high-frequency Beta brain waves.

What Neurofeedback Therapy does is that it trains your brain to reverse the ratio of Theta and Beta brain waves.

Beta waves: associated with efficient information processing and problem-solving

Theta waves: associated with creativity, insight, deep meditation, and reduced consciousness.


You Got It!

It’s important for you, or if someone you love who you think has ADHD to know that you are in control and you can bring clarity to your life. Symptoms of ADHD can be overwhelming and drowning but it doesn’t have to be that way!

If you want to schedule a Therapeutic Assessment to start your ADHD journey, contact us at any time and we can point you in the right direction

How Neurofeedback May Alleviate Symptoms of ADHD

The most traditional treatment of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is stimulant medication. However, medication may come with side effects—and it treats the symptoms, not the root cause of the problem.

Think of the common cold. The cause is a virus, and the symptoms are often a sore throat, runny nose, and cough. You can treat the symptoms with over-the-counter medications that will temporarily relieve or stop them. However, they do nothing to actually get rid of the virus.

So, if stimulant medications relieve the symptoms of ADHD, what will treat the actual cause?

Enter Neurofeedback.


What Is Neurofeedback?

Neurofeedback is not medication. It is a technique, a learning process, that teaches you to control certain brain functions.

Put another way, once you swallow medication, you are no longer in control of it. You have given up control to the little pill and are subject to its effects and side effects on your body. The pill may make you sleepy; it may make you nauseous. If you have an allergy to it, it may cause you to break out in hives. It could even kill you…

With Neurofeedback, though, you are in complete control. In the process of Neurofeedback, you are retraining your brain to act in different and better ways.

How is this accomplished?


How Does Neurofeedback Work?

Your brain is very complex, and there’s a lot of stuff going on up there. One very important part of your brain is brainwaves, which are patterns of electrical pulses that enable the various parts of your brain to communicate with each other.

For our purposes, we’re going to keep it simple, and we are going to concentrate on only five types of brain waves: alpha, beta (BAY-ta), delta, gamma, and theta (THAY-ta) waves. Each of these brainwaves moves at different speeds (frequencies) through the brain and each has a particular effect on the brain. Frequencies are measured in hertz (abbreviated Hz.)

Think of a symphony orchestra. You’re sitting in the concert hall, and the percussionist is beating the timpani (kettle drum) in long, slow beats. This represents the delta waves—the slowest of the brain waves. It’s almost a hypnotic sound—you find yourself falling asleep. Suddenly the flute joins in with very fast, high-pitched notes. Those are the gamma waves—the fastest of the brain waves. Suddenly you’re wide-awake and energized! The other brainwaves correspond to other instruments in the orchestra—not as slow as the drumbeat, and not as fast and excitable as the flute.

Following are the five brainwaves broken down into their frequencies and their general characteristics.

  • Frequency range 1­–4 Hz. Associated with deep, restorative sleep; unawareness; deep unconsciousness.
  • Frequency range 4–8 Hz. Associated with periods of creativity; insight; daydreaming; depression; anxiety; and distractibility.
  • Frequency range 8–12 Hz. Associated with alertness; peacefulness; readiness; meditation; physical relaxation.
  • Frequency range 13–30 Hz. Associated with thinking, focusing, sustained attention; tension; alertness; intensity; excitement.
  • Frequency range above 30Hz. Associated with learning; cognitive processing; intensely focused attention; problem solving tasks; mental sharpness; memory.

You always have some degree of each of these brainwave frequencies present in different parts of your brain. For example, if you become drowsy, more delta waves creep in. If you are inattentive to what’s going on around you and your mind is wandering, theta waves tend to build up. If you suddenly become anxious and tense, an excessively high frequency of beta waves may be present in different parts of your brain.

A person with ADHD tends to have too many slow waves (usually theta, and sometimes alpha) present in the front part of the brain (frontal cortex). As a result, this person will generally have problems with concentration and focus; memory; impulse control; mood regulation; and hyperactivity.


Neurofeedback Training for ADHD

Let’s say you have ADHD and want to try Neurofeedback.

A clinician with specialized expertise in brain function will do the testing. Because Neurofeedback is not one-size-fits-all, an assessment of your brainwaves is necessary to find out if you have too many or too few frequencies in various parts of  your brain. Your neurofeedback treatment can then be tailored specifically for your brain.

The clinician will place electrodes at various places on your head, corresponding to various parts of your brain. Rather, the electrodes will measure your brain activity—and you will be able to see it instantly on a computer screen!

Once the assessment is complete, your Neurofeedback treatment can begin. Your treatment may be only 30 or 40 sessions, or may be up to 60 sessions, depending on the severity of your ADHD. Each session lasts about 45 to 50 minutes.

At the beginning of each session, one or more electrodes will be placed on your scalp. You may then be asked to play a video game, using only your brain. You will use your mind to control what is happening on the video screen.

When your brain functions the way it’s supposed to, the computer will give you on-screen rewards. If you get distracted, the computer will let you know that you need to readjust your focus. With a little practice, you can control your brain activity and play the whole game without interruption.

In another example, you may be asked to watch your favorite movie instead of playing a video game. When your brain is focused, the movie plays. If you get distracted, the sound fades and the picture goes black—a signal that you need to refocus your brain.

What you are doing is retraining your brain to exist in a more focused state. You are actually changing your brain! Eventually you will automatically focus and won’t have to be reminded to do so by a black picture or fading sound.

Think of it this way. There was a point in your life when you didn’t know how to ride a bike. When you started out, you had to learn how to balance, how to pedal, how to steer, how to go around corners, and where to look.

Once in a while you may have fallen off the bike, which reminded you to pay more attention to what you were doing. Eventually, though, when you hopped on the bike, you didn’t have to think about pedaling and balance—your brain automatically knew what to do! And if twenty years went by and you had not ridden a bike in all those years, your brain would know exactly what to do next time you got on a bike.

That’s exactly how neurofeedback helps you control your ADHD symptoms. You don’t have to be reminded to focus—your brain just does it.


You’re In Control!

Neurofeedback is safe, and gives you control of healing and organizing your brain. You are not a victim of the brain you were born with. You are the master of the brain you have altered with Neurofeedback. If you or someone you love is interested in trying an alternative, non-invasive therapy, or to augment a current treatment, get in touch with Elumind’s Client Care and schedule a therapeutic assessment and start the journey of healing.




How To Help Your Child With ADHD

If your child has Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), there is one thing that you can do for him or her that is more important than anything else: Make sure your child knows that there is nothing wrong with them. They are not flawed or bad. They is not inferior.

Your child has just as much worth—and just as much potential—as anyone else. If your child believes this—if this is his bedrock foundation for everything else in life—it will assist him in overcoming self-doubt and managing ADHD will be so much easier for him.

That being said, parenting a child with ADHD is not like traditional childrearing. Depending on the type and severity of your child’s symptoms, normal rules and routines can be nearly impossible to carry out. You will have to modify your behavior and learn to manage your child’s behavior. But there are a number of things you can do that will make life much easier, both for you and for your child.



Consistency and structure are vital. Make a routine for your child and stick to it. A child with ADHD does not always adapt to change and uncertainty as well as others. Knowing what to expect can be calming for your child and can limit challenging behaviors.



The ADHD brain does not lend itself well to thinking of consequences before acting. Therefore, one of your child’s characteristics may be impulsivity, which can lead to challenging or inappropriate behaviors. Such behaviors can present a problem in a school or other setting where you are not present. Your child may face bullying and teasing because of his outbursts, which can leave him feeling lonely and left out, exacerbating the problem he may already have with feeling “different.”

Jill, an intelligent 8-year-old in Grade 3, was experiencing some difficulty with peers at school. With her permission and the permission of the teacher, Mum gave a talk to the class about ADHD. Mum explained that Jill had a type of disability, and while it wasn’t visible, as it would be if Jill were in a wheelchair, ADHD is disabling, nonetheless. She explained that nothing was “wrong” with Jill, but that her brain just functioned differently from others in the class. Mum was glad to answer the children’s questions to help them understand Jill’s challenges.

From that point on, what had previously seemed like odd behaviors became an accepted part of Jill’s personality. The teasing and bullying stopped, and Jill was embraced as an important and welcome member of the class.



It’s important that you establish rules at home, and that they are simple and clear. Just as important are clearly established consequences for breaking the rules. Encourage your child to think of the consequences before he chooses an inappropriate behaviour. When they obeys a rule, be sure to give them positive feedback. And be specific: Don’t just say, “Good job.” Define what it was that you appreciated: “I am so happy that you did your homework before turning on the television.”


Simplify and Organize

The ADHD brain is easily distractible—subject to the so-called “shiny object syndrome.” Regulate television, video games, and computer time as these interfere with concentration.

Simplifying and organizing your home will reduce unnecessary distractions. Provide a quiet place for your child to do homework, read, or take a break from everyday life. Keep your home neat and organized so your child knows where everything is. Chaos and uncertainty are adversarial to the ADHD brain.


Pick Your Battles

Your child’s impulsive and hyperactive behaviour can be challenging. Don’t attempt to correct every problem. Let the smaller things go, as it will alleviate stress—yours and your child’s—in the long run.

Maybe your child finished only two out of three assigned chores. Congratulate him on having focused on the two he did complete, and don’t criticize what he was not able to accomplish.


Pay Attention To The Basics

As with any child anywhere, it’s important that your child get enough nutrition, sleep, and exercise. If they balks at exercise, remind them that many great athletes have ADHD. Search the Internet for “famous people with ADHD.” You’re bound to be surprised—and your child will be encouraged.


Who’s The Boss?

Many parents and children use ADHD as an excuse for poor behavior. ADHD is not the boss here. Your child is the ultimate boss of their behaviour, and are capable of learning appropriate responses to life. It may take some extra work, but it’s important to conquer it.

Many famous people have ADHD and are highly successful. In fact, Albert Einstein and Thomas Edison both had ADHD. At no time did Edison say, “I can’t invent the light bulb. I have ADHD.” Neither he nor Einstein—nor thousands of others—ever let their disability get in the way of their accomplishments. Reinforce this to your child. He can do anything he sets his mind to. It may take more concentration and effort, but he is eminently capable of achieving his goals.


Time Out

As a parent dedicated to helping your child, you will undoubtedly face times of exhaustion. Don’t feel guilty for needing a break! You’re only human. It’s vital that you take time out to rejuvenate and replenish your energy.

And don’t make the mistake of assuming that other parents of kids with ADHD are coping so much better than you are. This is not a contest. Each parent and each child are in unique circumstances. They are doing their best, and so are you.


You’re Not Alone

Your journey with your child with ADHD may seem lonely at times. Rest assured; you are not alone. ADHD is the most prevalent and the most treatable childhood psychiatric disorder in Canada. Though statistics vary somewhat, the Ontario Child Health Study reports that 6.1% of children ages 4 to 16 have ADHD. Likewise, the Quebec Child Mental Health Survey reports a 5.4% prevalence among children ages 6 to 14.

Canada has support groups country wide—both for parents and for their children with ADHD. Check with your child’s health care provider, or contact your local branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association.

Learn all you can about ADHD. Each child is different; learn how it affects your child.


What Shall I Tell My Child?

Sometimes parents don’t know how much the child should know about their ADHD. Be honest. Explain to your child that having ADHD is not her fault, that it doesn’t make her a “bad” person, and that she can learn ways to improve the problems it causes. Explain to him that for people with ADHD, the skills that control attention, behavior, and activity don’t come naturally.

Don’t overwhelm your child with information, though. Tell him just enough to satisfy him. As he gets older, he will be able to understand more of the specifics of the disorder.


Professional Help

Be sure to stay in close contact with your child’s primary healthcare provider and keep abreast of new developments in the treatment of ADHD.  Individuals under medical supervision, who have undergone Neurofeedback therapy, have been able to reduce some of their medication, strongly reduce impulsivity symptoms and gain control over concentration. Your child deserves the best, and so do you.