18 Oct Understanding Attention deficit–hyperactivity disorder
Almost everyone experiences some symptoms similar to ADHD at some point in their lives. However, ADHD is diagnosed only when symptoms are severe enough to cause ongoing problems in more than one area of your life. These persistent and disruptive symptoms have been shown to be traced back to early childhood years.
What is Attention Deficit–Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)?
According to ‘The New England Journal of Medicine’ (2020), ADHD is characterized by hyperactivity and impulsivity, by inattention or by a combination of hyperactivity, impulsivity and inattention that is inconsistent with developmental level and impairs daily function (Cortese, 2020).
Symptom onset of ADHD:
ADHD is usually identified and diagnosed in children. In up to 70% of childhood cases, the symptoms persist into adulthood.
In some cases, ADHD is not recognized or diagnosed until adulthood. Adult ADHD symptoms may not be as clear as ADHD symptoms in children. In adults, hyperactivity may decrease, but struggles with impulsiveness, restlessness and difficulty paying attention may continue.
The diagnosis of ADHD in adults has also been shown to be a little more difficult because certain symptoms of ADHD are similar to symptoms caused by other conditions such as anxiety or mood disorders. Many adults with ADHD have also been found to present with anxiety and/or depression.
Adult ADHD symptoms may include:
> Disorganization and problems prioritizing
> Poor time management skills
> Problems focusing on a task
> Trouble multitasking
> Excessive activity or restlessness
> Poor planning
> Low frustration tolerance
> Frequent mood swings
> Problems following through and completing tasks
> Hot temper
> Trouble coping with stress
If any of the symptoms listed above continually disrupt your life, we recommend talking to your doctor about whether you might benefit from a referral for further assessment, diagnosis, and evidence-based intervention to manage symptoms of ADHD. It is important to highlight different types of health care professionals may diagnose and supervise treatment for ADHD. Seek a provider who has training and experience in caring for adults with ADHD.
How does ADHD impact daily life?
ADHD in adulthood often leads to unstable relationships, poor work or school performance, low self-esteem, among other difficulties in daily life. ADHD has been found to impact a range of emotional and behavioural difficulties in individuals. These challenges may present in the following ways:
> Poor school or work performance
> Financial problems
> Trouble with the law
> Alcohol or other substance misuse
> Frequent car accidents or other accidents
> Unstable relationships
> Poor physical and mental health
> Poor self-image
> Suicide attempts
> Risk taking behaviours
Treatment for ADHD:
For children, young people, and adults the first-line treatment is pharmacological treatment. In the instance that psychological treatment is preferred, or where pharmacotherapy has proven to be only partially effective, or ineffective, Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy should be offered as the psychotherapy approach (Read ‘The National Institute for Clinical Excellence, 2018’ here).
Treatment for adult ADHD is somewhat similar to treatment for childhood ADHD. Treatment can include a combination of: (1) pharmacological treatment; (2) psychotherapy; (3) education and/or training and; (4) treatment for any mental health conditions that occurs along with ADHD.
We recommended discussing your individual assessment, diagnosis and treatment needs with your trusted general practitioner as a first point of call. Should you need additional guidance you can request an appointment with one of our psychologists at Positive Wellbeing Psychology, as we can provide guidance on accessing necessary and holistic supports. This is important as effective treatment usually adopts a combination of medication and psychotherapy with a registered psychologist.
The New England Journal of Medicine (2020) provided insightful findings on the pharmacological treatment for ADHD. Research shows medication helps by decreasing the severity of inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. This study indicated that within periods during which individuals diagnosed with ADHD were receiving medication, a significant improvement in academic functioning and decrease in the following negative outcomes:
> Unintentional physical injuries
> Motor vehicle accidents (among male patients)
> Substance use disorder
> Criminal acts
On another interesting note, a review of literature also indicated little evidence that ADHD medication improved ones’ academic or work performance for use by a person without ADHD or use in a way that was not prescribed.
How can Positive Wellbeing Psychology Help?
At Positive Wellbeing Psychology, we are trained in evidence-based treatment approaches for ADHD. You can feel comfortable working together to help improve, understand, and manage symptoms of attention and hyperactivity.
To enquire about an appointment with Positive Wellbeing Psychology, please complete our online contact form for new clients (click here). We’ll be in touch shortly to answer any of your questions.
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