ADHD – Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

What is ADHD?

ADHD is one of the most common childhood disorders, symptoms can continue throughout adolescence and adulthood. It is a complex neurodevelopmental disorder that can affect success in education as well as a person’s relationships. The symptoms of ADHD vary and can be difficult to recognize.

Risk factors for ADHD can include:

Blood relatives having a diagnosis of ADHD or another mental health disorder.

Maternal drug/alcohol use or smoking during pregnancy.

ADHD is generally diagnosed in children by the time they reach their teenage years. The average age of diagnosis is 7, although around 2 million children have received a diagnosis between the ages of 2 and 5. Older children exhibiting symptoms may have ADHD, but they have generally shown symptoms within their early years of life.

Knowing the symptoms in children

Self-focused behaviour
A common sign of ADHD is an inability to recognise other people’s needs. 

Self-focused behaviour may cause a child with ADHD to interrupt others while they’re talking or playing games that they are not part of.

Waiting their turn
Children with ADHD may have trouble waiting their turn during activities or when taking part in games with others.

A child with ADHD may have trouble dealing with their emotions. They may have outbursts of anger at inappropriate times, this may be deemed as children having temper tantrums

Children with ADHD often find it hard to sit still. They may get up to run around or fidget when they are required to sit.

Problems being quiet
Children with ADHD may struggle to play quietly or calmly during activities.

Incomplete activities
Children with ADHD may show interest in many activities, but struggle to stay focused. Such as starting a game but then move onto another activity prior to the game being completed.

Lack of focus
A child with ADHD may have trouble focussing their attention, for example if someone is speaking directly to them, they can listen but not understand or be able to communicate what was said. 

Avoiding tasks that require effort
As with lack of focus, children may try to avoid activities that require a prolonged mental effort, such as paying attention within class or completing homework.

Children with ADHD may struggle to follow instructions set. This can then lead to mistakes being made that may be deemed as laziness or lack of intelligence, however this is not the case.

Adults with ADHD

Adults with ADHD often have fewer symptoms as they age, but some will continue to have large level symptoms, that can interfere with their level of functioning. The main features of adult ADHD are difficulty focusing their attention, being impulsive and an inability to rest and relax. These symptoms can range from mild to severe.

Many adults with ADHD are not aware they have it, they may be aware that everyday tasks can be a challenge and may find it difficult to focus and prioritize. Within the workplace this may lead to missing deadlines or meetings. Within social environments symptoms may show as, missed social outings, an inability to control impulses, impatience when waiting in line or when driving. This may present as mood swings and outbursts of anger.

Knowing the symptoms in adults

As with childhood ADHD adult symptoms focus around emotions and energy, these can include

  • Adult ADHD symptoms may include:                                                             
  • Impulsive behaviour                                                                                   
  • Disorganization and/or an inability to prioritise                                                       
  • Poor time keeping                                                                                                       
  • Problems focusing and/or completing activities                                                 
  • Unable to multitask                                                                                                    
  • Restlessness                                                                                                    
  • Poor planning                                                                                                  
  • Showing frustration and having mood swings for no apparent reason                                                                            
  • Inability to cope with stress

Treatment of ADHD

As with many mental illnesses, there are two main routes of treatments, these are medication and therapy.

As listed on the NHS Website, there are 5 licensed treatments of ADHD with regards to medication, these are methylphenidate, dexamfetamine, lisdexamfetamine, atomoxetine and guanfacine.

Some of the therapies which have been outlined as proof to help with ADHD – these are psychoeducation, behaviour therapy, parent training and education programmes, social skills therapy, cognitive behavioural therapy. 

There’s also evidence to prove that a healthy balanced diets and some supplements can help with the symptoms of ADHD.