What is ADHD?

ADHD, or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects both children and adults. It is characterised by patterns of inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity that interfere with functioning or development.

Do I have ADHD?

You may have ADHD if you experience several of the below symptoms:

Symptoms of ADHD

  1. Inattention:
    • Difficulty sustaining attention in tasks or play activities
    • Frequently makes careless mistakes in schoolwork, work, or other activities
    • Often does not seem to listen when spoken to directly
    • Difficulty organising tasks and activities
    • Avoids, dislikes, or is reluctant to engage in tasks that require sustained mental effort
    • Often loses things necessary for tasks and activities (e.g., toys, assignments, tools)
    • Easily distracted by extraneous stimuli
    • Forgetful in daily activities
  2. Hyperactivity:
    • Fidgeting with or tapping hands or feet, or squirming in seat
    • Leaving seat in situations when remaining seated is expected
    • Running about or climbing in situations where it is inappropriate
    • Unable to play or engage in leisure activities quietly
    • Often “on the go” or acts as if “driven by a motor”
    • Talking excessively
  3. Impulsivity:
    • Blurting out answers before questions have been completed
    • Difficulty waiting for their turn
    • Interrupting or intruding on others (e.g., butting into conversations or games)

Types of ADHD

  1. Predominantly Inattentive Presentation:
    • Symptoms of inattention are predominant.
    • Common in both children and adults, often leading to difficulties in tasks that require sustained focus.
  2. Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive Presentation:
    • Symptoms of hyperactivity and impulsivity are predominant.
    • More commonly identified in children, as the behaviours are more outwardly noticeable.
  3. Combined Presentation:
    • Symptoms of both inattention and hyperactivity-impulsivity are present.
    • The most common type of ADHD.

Causes of ADHD

The exact cause of ADHD is not known, but it is believed to involve a combination of genetic, environmental, and neurological factors. Some factors that may contribute include:

  • Genetics: ADHD tends to run in families, suggesting a hereditary component.
  • Brain Structure and Function: Differences in the brain’s anatomy and neurotransmitter activity may play a role.
  • Environmental Factors: Exposure to environmental toxins, prenatal exposure to tobacco or alcohol, and low birth weight have been associated with ADHD.

Diagnosis of ADHD

ADHD is diagnosed based on a comprehensive evaluation that includes:

  • Clinical interviews with the individual and their family
  • Behavioural assessments and rating scales
  • Observation of symptoms in different settings (e.g., home, school, work)
  • Medical history review to rule out other conditions

Treatment of ADHD

Treatment for ADHD typically involves a combination of approaches:

  1. Medication:
    • Stimulants (e.g., methylphenidate, amphetamines) are the most commonly prescribed medications.
    • Non-stimulant medications (e.g., atomoxetine, guanfacine) may also be used.
  2. Behavioural Therapy:
    • Cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) to develop coping strategies and skills.
    • Parent training programs to help manage children’s behaviours.
  3. Educational Interventions:
    • Classroom accommodations and support.
    • Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) or 504 Plans.
  4. Lifestyle and Support:
    • Regular physical activity and a healthy diet.
    • Structured routines and organizational strategies.

Living with ADHD

Living with ADHD can be challenging, but with proper support and management, individuals with ADHD can lead successful and fulfilling lives. Strategies such as mindfulness, time management techniques, and building a supportive environment can significantly improve daily functioning and well-being.

Online therapy for ADHD

Our qualified psychologists, therapists and counsellors here at Counselling Psychology Online provide bespoke therapy online for people with ADHD. To arrange an assessment session with one of our online psychologists or therapists, contact us here. Answers to the most frequently asked questions about our therapies, fees and online therapy can be found on our FAQ page.