Is ADHD Ruining Your Relationship?

Couple arguing on a couch
Many people mistakenly believe that ADHD is a problem confined to childhood – one that children “grow out of.” Yet about half of those who had ADHD in childhood (nearly 5% of Americans) continue to have it into adulthood.

The inattentiveness and difficulty finishing tasks that made it tough for children to sit still in school can evolve into self-esteem issues, trouble holding down a job, and substance abuse problems. These symptoms of adult ADHD can also put a real strain on relationships.

Many adults with ADHD also have never been diagnosed. Until you know you have ADHD, you can’t get the right treatment for it and your relationships could suffer.

How Does ADHD Affect Relationships?

The hallmark symptoms of ADHD — forgetfulness, inattentiveness, difficulty completing tasks, and impulsivity — can all wreak havoc on relationships. All of these issues can be complicated even more if children are involved.

Here are some of the problems you might face if you or your partner has ADHD:

  • Difficulty listening and paying attention. An individual with ADHD may “zone out” or talk out of turn, making it difficult to communicate. It can also cause the partner to feel as though what he or she has to say doesn’t matter.
  • Trouble completing tasks. ADHD can lead to poor organizational skills and forgetfulness. A man with ADHD may miss his wife’s birthday or their wedding anniversary, or may forget to stop at the store on the way home from work as his wife had asked. This forgetfulness may make his wife feel hurt and think that her husband doesn’t care, when he’s actually forgotten because he has trouble staying on top of things. That same inability to finish tasks may translate into a lack of commitment when it comes to marriage or other relationships.
  • Inability to handle responsibilities. Someone with ADHD might forget to pay the bills, neglect to clear a dangerous pile of branches from the backyard, or leave a toxic cleaner on the sink while the children are playing nearby.
  • Impulsive behavior. People with ADHD constantly need stimulation, and may fail to think through the consequences of their actions. This can lead to reckless, irresponsible behaviors (like driving too fast with the kids in the car).
  • Emotional overreaction. Someone with ADHD may lose his or her temper easily, leading to major misunderstandings and sometimes, big blowout fights. Arguments can quickly spiral out of control because the person with ADHD is unable to talk through issues calmly.

ADHD can destroy your marriage if you don’t get the right help. People with ADHD have higher divorce rates than those without the condition, according to one survey.

How Can Someone with ADHD Get Help for Relationship Issues?

The first step is to treat the ADHD symptoms that are interfering with your relationship. If you haven’t already been diagnosed, see a mental health professional (a psychologist or psychiatrist). Many of the same treatments that work in children — such as stimulant medications, talk therapy, and behavioral therapy — can also help adults with ADHD improve their focus.

Marriage or couples therapy can help you and your partner better understand one another, and may help heal any rifts that have opened in your relationship as a result of ADHD.

Some other strategies to ease ADHD-related relationship issues:

  • Make to-do lists of everything from daily responsibilities to items you need from the store. Also keep a calendar of important dates and deadlines.
  •  Ask the partner with ADHD to repeat back any requests, to make sure he or she understands what is being asked.
  • Simplify your life by cleaning up clutter around the house and only attempting to accomplish a small number of tasks each week.
  • Get into a routine — for example, go through your checkbook once a week to see how much money you’ve spent, or plan the entire week’s meals every Sunday night.

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Diabetes Travel Tips

senior couple driving a motor home

Planning a trip? Do you have diabetes? Whether you’re camping or cruising, you can go anywhere and do almost anything. It just takes a little planning ahead.

Travel can make it hard to keep your blood sugar within your target range because of changes in time zones, meal schedules, and types of foods available. Check your blood sugar level more often during your time away from home.

Whenever you need to see a doctor away from home, let him or her know you have diabetes. And always wear medical identification. In an emergency, medical identification lets people know that you have diabetes so they can care for you appropriately if you are unable to speak.

General Travel Tips

When you are traveling:

  1. Use a travel agent who knows the needs of a person with diabetes. The agent can arrange for special meals or other special travel needs.
  2. Take extra diabetes pills (if you have type 2 diabetes), insulin and injection supplies, blood sugar meter batteries, test strips, and lancets. You may not find your regular supplies wherever you travel.
  3. Double your normal amount of needed supplies for short trips. For long trips, have enough extra supplies to last for 2 weeks more than the length of your trip.
  4. To keep your blood sugar at your usual level, try to eat and take your medicine as close to your regular schedule as you can.

Car travel
When you are traveling by car:

  1. Have snacks and drinks with you. Keep sugar-free drinks and drinks with sugar in an ice cooler.
  2. If needed, store your insulin in the cooler so that it will stay at a more constant temperature. Don’t let the insulin touch the ice.
  3. Keep your blood sugar meter at room temperature. Don’t leave it in a hot or cold car or in the sun.
  4. Walk a few minutes every 2 hours to improve the blood flow in your legs.

Plane travel
When you are flying:

  1. Check with your doctor, if needed, about changing your insulin dose and timing if you will travel across three or more time zones.
  2. Stay up to date with airport security rules. When you get ready to go through security, tell the officer that you have diabetes and are carrying diabetes supplies with you. Insulin pumps may set off alarms.
  3. Pack your diabetes supplies in your carry-on bag. Luggage can get lost and supplies damaged by the temperature extremes in the baggage area. You will need medical identification or a doctor’s prescription for your needles and syringes to be allowed through airport security.
  4. Put your insulin bottle (vial), if needed, into a small, wide-mouth, cool, empty thermos if you are not sure that temperatures will stay in a range that is safe for your insulin.
  5. Put in half the air you usually add to the insulin vial, if needed, to adjust for altitude air pressure changes if you draw up your insulin while flying.
  6. Get up and walk every hour or so. This will help blood flow in your legs and will make sure that your insulin works properly.

International travel
When you are traveling to other countries:

  1. Find out which immunizations are needed for your trip. Get immunized at least 3 to 4 weeks before you travel. These shots can increase your blood sugar for a short time.
  2. Visit your doctor if you take insulin and are traveling overseas. Ask for a letter stating that you have diabetes and need to carry syringes and other supplies with you at all times. Also, ask for an extra prescription for your insulin. Take both with you on your trip to help you pass through customs with your syringes, needles, and other injection supplies. In some countries, insulin is available in U-40 concentrations only. If you have to use this concentration, you will need to use syringes that are designed to dispense this concentration.
  3. Pack a small disposable container with you to hold your used lancets and needles (wide-mouth plastic soda pop or water bottles work well).
  4. Pack a supply of nonprescription medicines (that will not affect blood sugar levels) to treat minor illnesses such as a cold.
  5. Pack a language/translation book or other type of aid that will help you express your diabetes needs to others if you are traveling to a country where English is not the main language.