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On the last track, we discussed the ADHD adult’s passive and aggressive methods of coping. The passive methods of coping for an ADHD adult were the "Who Cares?" attitude and the "Take Me or Leave Me" attitude. The aggressive methods of coping for an ADHD adult were Rebellion and Perfectionism.
On this track, we will discuss the Five Stages of Grief. As you are well aware, these five stages are Anger, Denial, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance. Obviously, when ADHD adults first receive their diagnosis, they often have to go through these five stages. Let’s look at how Stacy has worked her way through the five stages of grief. As I describe these to you, think of what stage your current ADHD client is in.
Stage # 1 - Anger
She stated, "I was just so mad at first. For years I was misunderstood. Nobody believed I really was trying my hardest, and they always yelled at me when my best wasn’t good enough. I always knew something was wrong, but nobody believed me! I finally understand why everything has always been such a struggle for me, but now I’m pissed! I mean, I’m imperfect, I’m not like everyone else, and it’s just not fair!"
After Stacy got over her initial anger, she went through the motions of coping with the diagnosis. She decided to try medication, and was given a prescription for Ritalin. After a couple of weeks, Stacy stopped taking the Ritalin because it was giving her insomnia. However, she neglected to inform her doctor of the decision to stop taking it. Stacy went back to life as it was before her diagnosis.
Stage # 2 - Denial
Stacy fell back into her old habits of attributing the confusion of her life to external factors. Remember Adam from track 4, who coped with his ADHD through the controlling method of blaming? Like Adam, Stacy would not take the blame for any of the confusion in her life. However, unlike Adam, Stacy did not blame other people, but rather situations and uncontrollable events.
Stage # 3 - Bargaining
She stated, "I figure if we just find the right one, everything will be OK. I’ll keep trying different drugs until I find the one that makes me normal. Then I’ll be all right, I’ll be like everyone else." Sound like something a client of yours has said? As you can see, Stacy had worked her way to Bargaining, the third stage of the five stages of grief.
Stage # 4 - Depression
Stage # 5 - Acceptance
"Adding Up Blessings" Exercise - Four Steps
Do you have an ADHD client who is working through the Five Stages of Grief? Is he or she, like Stacy, stuck in any of the stages, such as depression? If so, would your Stacy benefit from the "Adding Up Blessings" exercise?
On this track, we have discussed the Five Stages of Grief that the ADHD adult experiences following diagnosis. The Five Stages of Grief were Anger, Denial, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance.
On the next track, we will discuss the six common balancing issues ADHD adults face. These six common balancing issues are Work vs. Play, Your Needs vs. Others’ Needs, Overstimulation vs. Understimulation, Hyperactivity vs. Hypoactivity, Detailed vs. Global Thinking, and Depression vs. Euphoria.
Peer-Reviewed Journal Article Reference:
Brunstein-Klomek, A., Kopelman-Rubin, D., Apter, A., Argintaru, H., & Mufson, L. (2017). A pilot feasibility study of interpersonal psychotherapy in adolescents diagnosed with specific learning disorders, attention deficit hyperactive disorder, or both with depression and/or anxiety symptoms (IPT-ALD). Journal of Psychotherapy Integration, 27(4), 526–539.
McKeague, L., Hennessy, E., O'Driscoll, C., & Heary, C. (2015). Retrospective accounts of self-stigma experienced by young people with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or depression. Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal, 38(2), 158–163.
Ramsay, J. R. (2017). The relevance of cognitive distortions in the psychosocial treatment of adult ADHD. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 48(1), 62–69.
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