The findings suggested that CBT can help with ADHD symptoms that don't seem to react to medication. Researchers discovered that CBT can help reduce ADHD symptoms, improve executive function, and alleviate anxiety and despair in a 2018 study of 88 college students with ADHD.

ADHD is a condition in which self-control skills, including executive functioning skills, are delayed for a long time. Procrastination, disorganization, poor time management, emotional instability, impulsivity, and fluctuating motivation are all symptoms of EF delays. Despite the fact that these issues are not part of the official ADhD diagnostic criteria, they are widespread in adults with the disorder, making it difficult for them to control their emotions and behaviors.

Individuals with ADHD who are untreated as children have more frequent and frustrating setbacks in their lives – in work, in social relationships, and in everyday organization. Adults with ADHD become self-critical and pessimistic as a result of these numerous defeats. As a result, they may feel negative emotions, cognitive distortions, and problematic self-beliefs at times. When things don't go as planned, it's common for people with ADHD to blame themselves, even though this isn't always the case. They could project their pessimism into the future, believing that tomorrow will be just as horrible as today.

Demoralizing thoughts and beliefs that prevent people from doing what they want can't hold up to logical scrutiny. These thought processes are distorted in certain distinct ways, as CBT reveals:

  • Thinking that is all-or-nothing. You see everything as either fully good or entirely bad: you've failed if you don't do anything precisely.

  • Overgeneralization. You see a single unpleasant incident as part of a pattern, such as forgetting to pay your debts.

  • Reading people's minds is a skill. You believe you know what others think of you or something you've done, and you're wrong.

  • The art of foretelling the future. You believe that things will go wrong.

  • Magnification and reduction in size. You magnify the importance of minor issues while downplaying your achievements.

  • Statements that begin with the word "should." You put a lot of emphasis on how things should be, which leads to a lot of self-criticism and animosity against others.

  • Personalization. You place blame on yourself for bad things that happen to you and minimize the role of others.

  • Filtering in the mind. You only notice the negative aspects of any situation.

  • Emotional reasoning is a type of reasoning that is based on emotions. You believe your bad sentiments are a reflection of reality: "I'm doing poorly and will most likely be fired," if you're unhappy with your employment.

  • Comparative analysis is a type of reasoning that involves comparing two or Even if the comparison is unwarranted, you compare yourself to others and feel inferior.

Recognizing these erroneous thoughts will enable you to replace them with more realistic thinking.

J. Russell Ramsay, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, states, "Understanding how you think is an excellent start to making changes in your life." "Altering one's mind and changing one's actions go hand in hand." Expanding your perspective on a situation allows you to consider more options for dealing with it."

What Has Changed in ADHD CBT?

Various research initiatives have explored the impact of CBT on the symptoms of ADHD in adults, both individually and in groups, since 1999, with the majority of the studies published in the last 5-10 years. In general, this research backs up the claim that CBT can assist people better deal with their ADHD-related issues. A 2016 neuroimaging research of persons with ADHD who completed a 12-session course of CBT found improvements in ADHD symptom ratings as well as favorable alterations in the same brain regions that are normally studied in drug therapy studies.

Nonetheless, other scientists would prefer to see more thorough study with well built controls. Researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School wrote in their 2011 report, "Current Status of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Adults Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder," that "the conceptual and empirical basis for CBT approaches in adult ADHD is growing, suggesting that targeted, skills-based interventions have a role in effectively treating this disorder." However, at this point of development, future research must improve in terms of methodological rigor. More randomized controlled trials with active control groups are needed, and intervention packages must be tested by many research organizations in multiple trials."

How Does Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) Help Adults with ADHD?

While learning how CBT can affect the brain is fascinating, most ADHD patients just want to walk out the door without spending 20 minutes looking for their keys. CBT assists patients in dealing with such issues on a daily basis.

CBT is used to help people with everyday problems like procrastination, time management, and other typical issues, rather than to treat the fundamental symptoms of inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity.

CBT sessions focus on identifying situations in which a patient's day-to-day living is hampered by poor planning, disorganization, and poor time and task management. Sessions can assist a person manage with duties like paying bills or finishing work on time, as well as encouraging personal fulfillment and well-being activities like sleep, exercise, or hobbies. Learning about ADHD is a wonderful place to start since it supports the message that it is not a character fault and demonstrates the neurological roots of everyday issues.

"I know what I need to do, but I don't do it," most adults with ADHD say. They do not carry out their plans for what they want or need to do, despite having them. CBT focuses on the development of coping mechanisms, the management of negative expectations and emotions, and the unwinding of behavioral patterns that obstruct the techniques.

CBT's aims and session agendas are based on events and obstacles that the patient has faced and, more importantly, anticipates to face in the future, especially between sessions. Take-away reminders, follow-up check-ins, and other methods of applying new coping skills outside of the consulting room are used by the therapist. Finally, the best indicator of whether therapy is working is how a patient with ADHD behaves in normal life.