A diagnosis of attention deficit disorder (ADHD or ADD) later in life often brings with it a rush of feelings — confusion, relief, anger, resentment, and total overwhelm to name a few. Understandably, you want to learn everything you can about the condition, but who can you trust? What's the real truth? Where should you start?
In short, start here — with the 10 most definitive books for understanding, treating, and thriving with adult ADHD. Pick one, two, or several — once you're done reading, you'll have a clearer grasp of the condition, and a better plan for moving forward.
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"Driven to Distraction"
If there ever was an "ADHD bible," it would be Driven to Distraction(#CommissionsEarned), the comprehensive tome by Ned Hallowell and John Ratey covering diagnosis, treatment, and living well with attention deficit. First published in 1994, Driven to Distraction was updated and revised in 2011, making it a modern resource for understanding ADHD at any age. Read it, share it, and talk it about with everyone touched by your ADHD. “After finishing it, I finally understood how my child’s brain is wired and how I can help him,” says Laurie, an ADDitude reader.
When Sari Solden’s Women with Attention Deficit Disorder(#CommissionsEarned) was first published in 1995, it was a much-needed pioneer. Solden’s groundbreaking work unveiled the hidden epidemic of mood disorders, anxiety, and low self-esteem among women with diagnosed and undiagnosed ADHD. The second edition, bearing the subtitle Embrace Your Differences and Transform Your Life subtitle, highlights how much has changed — and how much has stayed the same — regarding women and ADHD. It remains a vital resource for women and the people who love them.
Marriages — or other long-term relationships — are seldom easy. But when one or both partners have ADHD, "hard" doesn't begin to describe the challenges. Early on in The Couple's Guide to Thriving with ADHD(#CommissionsEarned), it's clear that authors Melissa Orlov and Nancie Kohlenberger know their stuff. The book reads like a therapist's best practices primer, with each technique fine-tuned to anticipate, dampen, and react productively to the impact of ADHD on your relationship. The authors don't promise any quick fixes, but their smart strategies (plus a little hope and resolve) certainly can't hurt.
Adult ADD: A Guide for the Newly Diagnosed(#CommissionsEarned) is an easy-to-read “first step” manual for newly diagnosed ADHD adults. Author, fellow adult with ADHD, and ADDitude contributor Stephanie Sarkis lays out the nuts and bolts of diagnosis and treatment, and shares simple solutions on everything from dealing with ADHD in the workplace to making lifestyle changes — including what your friends and family can do to support you. A smart (and not overwhelming) place to start.
Authors Peg Dawson and Richard Guare hit the nail on the head with the Smart But Scattered series for kids who struggle with executive functioning. Now, they’ve applied their well-honed approach to adults, helping you understand how executive function deficits are holding you back in the workplace. This book offers simple and effective strategies for maintaining focus at work, organizing a messy desk, and getting through even the busiest schedule. If you’re worried about ADHD's toll on your work, take control with this read.
Any adult who lived with undiagnosed ADHD — or its frequent companion, learning disabilities — will recognize pieces of himself in Jeff Nichols's aptly named memoir. In Trainwreck, Nichols skillfully details his life growing up with ADHD and dyslexia, feeling lost and angry until he finally hit his stride as a commercial fisherman. ADDitude blogger Douglas Cootey calls Trainwreck: My Life as an Idoit, "an irreverent, expletive-filled romp through the author’s life.” The book can be hard to read at times — Nichols spares no gory details — but any adult with ADHD will relate to his confusion, self-coping mechanisms, and finally, to his acceptance.
Russell Barkley, Ph.D. is one of the foremost ADHD experts in the world. In this definitive guide, Taking Charge of Adult ADHD, Barkley clearly outlines how to get the best treatment for your symptoms, what you need to know about medications, and how to fix damaged finances, relationships, and more. This book is practical, readable, and full of understanding; it’s no wonder Gina Pera called it “the Rosetta Stone of adult ADHD!”
Mindful meditation is a natural ADHD treatment gaining in popularity today. In the very accessible The Mindfulness Prescription for Adult ADHD, Dr. Lidia Zylowska outlines a simple 8-step plan to improving your attention, increasing your awareness, and gaining self-acceptance through meditation. If this sounds too “New Age-y” for your tastes, don’t worry — Dr. Zylowska discusses how mindful meditation can be used to supplement (not simply replace!) a traditional medication-based treatment plan.
No matter how supportive, our loved ones often struggle to decipher ADHD symptoms from purely negative or selfish behavior — leaving them (and you) frustrated and angry. In Is It You, Me, or Adult ADD?, author Gina Pera expertly presents both sides of the equation — ADHD and non-ADHD — and helps readers navigate to solutions that work for everyone. Real-life stories — particularly from couples affected by ADHD — lend a note of humor to the book, while highlighting what it’s really like to love someone with adult ADHD.
It’s no secret that kids with ADHD struggle to make friends, understand social cues, and take turns. But guess what? These problems often don’t go away with puberty — in fact, social problems may be even harder to tackle in adulthood. In What Does Everybody Else Know That I Don't?, a comprehensive social skills guide for adults with ADHD, Michele Novotni teaches adults to overcome common problems like inattention, impulsive blurting, and more. Filled with straightforward exercises and engaging tidbits, this practical book can help you improve your social skills at any age.
#CommissionsEarned As an Amazon Associate, ADDitude earns a commission from qualifying purchases made by ADDitude readers on the affiliate links we share. However, all products linked in the ADDitude Store have been independently selected by our editors and/or recommended by our readers. Prices are accurate and items in stock as of time of publication.