It’s very common to hear poker players talk about suffering from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), and one of my favorite professional players describes himself as having a “touch” of ADHD. While many people think that ADHD is only a childhood disorder, this is simply not the case. Studies indicate that as many as 2/3 of children who have ADHD will continue to have symptoms in adulthood, and, from an anecdotal perspective, it appears that poker may attract large numbers of players who suffer from ADHD (or ADHD-like symptoms).
Adults with ADHD tend to have difficulty with attention and focus, while the hyperactivity aspect tends to decrease as we age. It is also possible to vary in degree in terms of how much ADHD affects you. ADHD can be thought of as a continuum with one end being “low” symptoms and the other end being “high” ADHD symptoms.
So how do you know if you have ADHD if you were not diagnosed as a child? The only way to know for sure is to have an evaluation by a qualified professional such as a neurologist, psychologist, or psychiatrist, but how you answer the following questions can give you some clues.
- Do you have trouble concentrating?
- Are you easily distractible (short attention span)?
- Do you have trouble getting and staying organized?
- Do you make decisions impulsively?
- Do you keep busy doing lots of things but never seem to finish projects?
- Do you feel restless?
- Do you find yourself getting bored easily?
- Do you have trouble staying quiet?
- Do you drive fast?
- Do you rush through activities?
The more of these that you recognize and answer yes to, the more likely it is that you have ADHD.
The functional end result of having ADHD is impairment across a range of interpersonal and work situations. If you have ADHD, it is likely that you had issues with things like:
- Problems at work
- Frequent job changes
- Relationship difficulties
- Difficulties managing finances/bankroll
- Unsafe diving (e.g. speeding tickets, fender benders, etc).
- Using drugs and alcohol
If after reviewing the above lists, you think you might have ADHD, then you can and should seek assistance. Your first stop should be your primary care physician to rule out other possible factors that could be causing your symptoms. Usually, you’ll be given a referral to a specialist who can evaluate you for the disorder.
If you are impaired to a sufficient degree, there are many medicinal treatments that you can try. It’s important that you follow you doctor’s instructions carefully. Many people who suffer from ADHD like to self-medicate, and that’s always a bad idea. ADHD is a brain disease and anything that changes brain chemistry can have deleterious effects. Your other option is to seek psychotherapy. A therapist can help you manage both your behaviors and thoughts. In truth, medication and therapy together tend to provide the best results.
Under the right treatment protocol, you can improve the quality of your life and achieve the things that are important to you. With the advances that we’ve made in the diagnosis and treatments of ADHD, there is simply no reason to suffer needlessly.
You can access all of Dr. Cardner’s videos on ADHD and a host of other mental games topics in our PRO video archive.