ADHD – What is it?

ADHD or Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder is a condition in which the sufferer struggles with concentrating. Commonly diagnosed in children, ADHD is a condition that many adults suffer from as well.

How common is it?

Within the UK, approximately 9% of children from primary to secondary school age are diagnosed with some degree of ADHD.

Common Misconceptions about ADHD

It’s a sign of inferior intelligence – Absolutely not, ADHD can affect anyone, regardless of their intellectual capacity.

ADHD sufferers are always disruptive and bouncing off the walls – Not necessarily true; While hyperactivity is a component of ADHD. It’s very possible that this doesn’t occur in sufferers.

I can’t have ADHD, I can focus in on a subject very well, to the point of forgetting other things – Actually, this is also a sign of ADHD. It is noticeable in some adults and is referred to as ‘Hyperfocusing’. This can often result in a level of focus that is almost obsessive and can sometimes be on something that is not at all productive to your day.

Online Psychological Therapies we Offer:

What Causes ADHD?

It’s difficult to find a single root cause of ADHD as it manifests in people differently. It tends to be a mixture of genetics, environment and individual biology.

A genetic defect within the brains normal function is believed to be a significant factor in the development of ADHD. It has been found to be a hereditarily inherited disorder as well; as families who have confirmed cases of ADHD demonstrate a pattern of inheritance.

Childhood development can also be an attributing factor to the development of ADHD. Trauma experienced by either the mother during pregnancy and the child suffered as they develop have also shown to affect the likelihood of developing ADHD.

While this is not a fully proven theory, there have been cases of this happening. This, however, enters the realm of whether children with traumatic backgrounds have ADHD or a form of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

ADHD – Signs and Symptoms in Children

To be diagnosed with ADHD, a child doesn’t necessarily have to exhibit all the traditional signs of the condition. Depending on the child, some may show only one or two symptoms. This means that traditionally quiet children may also suffer from ADHD and go undiagnosed if this traditional approach was applied.

Hyperactivity and its symptoms will appear as:

  • Always moving
  • Fidgeting and unable to stay still
  • Having quick and erratic changes in mood
  • Act as though they have no ‘off switch.’

Children can often exhibit signs such as Impulsivity that can often be mistaken for being honest:

  • Saying what’s on their mind
  • Saying things they feel regardless of if it’s mean in any way
  • Taking things that don’t belong to them
  • Often overactive and volatile
  • Interrupting Others
  • Startling or scaring others
  • A lack of danger awareness for themselves

Children among other ADHD sufferers struggle with maintaining attention. This is called ‘Inattention’ –

  • Sufferers may find themselves staring outside instead of being attentive in class
  • Regarded by others as a ‘daydreamer’ or ‘lost in their own thought.’
  • Not listening well when spoken to
  • Losing their possessions
  • Unable to complete tasks assigned to them

How can we be sure that what my Child or I have is ADHD?

At some point in childhood, children will demonstrate behaviours and symptoms that are similar to ADHD. They may struggle with paying attention; forget what they were told to do from just 5 minutes ago.

When concerned that your child may have ADHD, the best advice is to be patient. The reason being is that making sure that you get the validation of your concerns by a registered medical professional.

Even as an Adult, seek out medical advice and diagnosis by a professional before self-diagnosing. It’s very easy to jump to conclusions with symptoms such as depression, anxiety or even behaviour problems.

How is ADHD in Adults different?

Suffering from ADHD as an adult presents itself in far more discreet ways when compared to a child. Sometimes adults just suffer from one condition such as a difficulty to concentrate or hyperfocus.

Adult ADHD is more visible when the sufferer is undergoing a drastic change; as this places the individual under pressures, which demonstrate the symptoms of ADHD.

ADHD symptoms in adults are demonstrated through 5 factors – disorganisation, hyperfocus, impulsivity, hyperactivity, and emotional difficulty.
Disorganisation – Retaining a strong degree of structure in what they do, from work and family obligations. Suffering from ADHD means that keeping things organised can prove highly difficult.

Hyperfocus – Contrary to popular belief, ADHD pertains not just to find it challenging to focus. But many sufferers can find that they focus to the point of obsession on a particular thing. While this can prove highly beneficial, especially when honed towards a subject, but this can prove detrimental to work productivity.

Impulsivity – Roughly defined as reckless disregard of wider consequences. Whether going and socialising instead of doing important work or entering relationships which can prove toxic.

Hyperactivity – Demonstrated by a tireless level of energy. This is more discreet in adults than in children; demonstrated through fidgeting and an almost excitable demeanour in conversation.

Emotional Difficulty – The pressures felt by Adults is degrees higher than as a child. But suffering from ADHD can make it worse, and can lead to feelings of irritability when faced with challenges at work. It can often lead to issues with Depression.

How does someone get diagnosed with ADHD?

A Child Psychologist or Paediatrician is able to assess and diagnose ADHD in children. Through an assessment by a medical professional, they will be able to rule out other psychological conditions, allowing them to assess whether or not your child would have ADHD.

ADHD is rarely on its own but exists alongside other conditions. An assessment by a medical professional will allow you both to uncover what other mental health conditions may be working in conjunction with ADHD.

The registered Medical professional will provide the best plan of action. Your medical professional will involve both you and your child in the diagnosis and course of action moving forward.

Diagnosis is more than just about your child. A diagnosis of ADHD is about providing you and your child with the tools to manage and deal with the symptoms of ADHD together.

While it’s a matter of assessing children, it remains difficult to spot in adult sufferers. The reason this is challenging is that while other conditions of ADHD would be easier to spot by this point, as a whole, the subtlety involved with Adult ADHD makes it more difficult to see.

Other Psychological Conditions connected to ADHD

These conditions vary from Childhood to Adult sufferers of ADHD. In Children, these conditions tend to be:

Mental health conditions can persist alongside ADHD for adults:

  • Depression
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
  • Schizophrenia
  • Substance abuse

How long does it take to treat ADHD?

As a condition, ADHD isn’t one that you can treat, unfortunately. But it is a Disorder that, with the right level of support and guidance from a medical professional, can be managed effectively.

Treatment for ADHD – Our Recommendations

Depending on the sufferers’ situation, treatment for ADHD can vary. This is affected, in part, to the age group that the patient belongs to.

Parents of Children at pre-school age would be advised to seek out support from Parent-Training and Education programmes. These are available to both parents and carers, these can also be accompanied by video resources and books that can offer a holistic approach to managing the conditions which your child demonstrates.

Children aged from School and Adolescence also consists of parental-training in order to manage the ways in which ADHD can manifest in children nearing their teenage years. Services such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Psychiatric help are also available to a child of this age in order to help manage their emotions

It’s only in severe cases that medication is prescribed. Should your child exhibit what a medical professional would diagnose as an extreme form of ADHD. They may be offered medication in order to help counteract the more severe symptoms. Talking therapies will also be available as CBT has demonstrated a great deal of success for ADHD.

A lot of treatment options are based on self-management for any sufferer of ADHD. Your medical professional will provide advice on anything that may help with managing the conditions of ADHD. This can range from nutrition plan to activity levels and type of therapy.

What is the risk if ADHD goes untreated?

If left untreated in children, ADHD can have a negative impact on their performance at school. Without proper support, they may find their academic performance decreases and can find it difficult to make friends.

This can lead to long-term developmental problems, and ultimately, to chronic mental health problems such as Depression, Anxiety and Low Self-Esteem.

If untreated in Adults, ADHD can result in greater difficulty in sustaining social and family relationships. And can lead to difficulties with work, financial issues and mental health problems.

Useful resources for those suffering from ADHD Young Minds UK Charity Resources for young people with ADHD. Living With ADHD UK For parents, carers, and teachers, as well as for child and adolescent sufferers themselves. ADD Up UK Practical support for parents and families in the Havering, Barking and Dagenham areas. Adders Help for both children and adults with ADHD, as well as their families. ADDISS UK The National Attention Deficit Disorder Information and Support Service. ADHD Voices A research project funded by the UK’s Wellcome trust. The ADHD foundation The ADHD Foundation works to improve understanding and management of ADHD.

For more information call 0753 718 1090 or email help@online-therapy.company. To book a Virtual Therapy appointment with the Online Therapy Company, please fill in the online booking form.

Author – Dr Aisha Ali – DPsych Couns Psych, ADOS 2 Certified B.Psych (Hons)

Dr Aisha Ali is a highly experienced BPS Chartered Counselling Psychologist and Expert witness with over 15 years experience of working within the NHS in complex care and private practice. She has extensive experience of working with individuals, couples and families presenting with complex psychological and emotional issues. Aisha provides life and performance coaching.

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