Frequently Asked Questions

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What is ADHD?

ADHD is a disorder which is usually picked up in childhood. Parents and teachers may notice that a child:

  • is unusually over-active
  • gets distracted all the time, cannot stick to doing something for any length of time
  • is impulsive, and does things on the spur of the moment without thinking
  • and has great difficulty in concentrating.

Many of us have at least some of these problems, but do not have the diagnosis. To have the diagnosis of ADHD, these problems must be bad enough to interfere with how you get on with other people or with how you perform at work or school.

How is ADHD Diagnosed? 

A child or young person with a diagnosis of ADHD could be transferred to an adult Psychiatrist as they get older, should their symptoms of ADHD remain.

If you are seen for the first time as an adult, you would be assessed by a psychiatrist specialises in Adult ADHD. Medication, psychological therapies and ADHD coaching may help in your treatment. In the US, the DSM diagnostic system allows for an “inattentive” type without the overactivity. This is sometimes called Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD).

How Common is it? 

  • It seems to be more common in boys than in girls.
  • Around 3 to 5 in every 100 school-aged children have ADHD.
  • More than 2 out of every 3 of those diagnosed with ADHD as children continue to have these problems as teenagers. 2 out of 3 of these will still have problems as adults.

What is it like to have ADHD?

  • You may get easily distracted and find it hard to take notice of details, particularly with things you find boring.
  • It’s hard to listen to other people – you may find yourself finishing their sentences for them or interrupting them, or just saying things at the wrong time.
  • It’s hard to follow instructions.
  • You find it hard to organise yourself and start a lot of things without ever finishing them.
  • You find it hard to wait or when there’s nothing much going on – you fidget and can’t sit still.
  • You are forgetful and tend to lose or misplace things.
  • You easily get irritable, impatient or frustrated and lose your temper quickly.
  • You feel restless or edgy, have difficulty turning your thoughts off, and find stress hard to handle.
  • You tend to do things on the spur of the moment, without thinking, which gets you into trouble

What causes it?

Genes do seem to be involved – a third of people with ADHD have at least one parent with similar symptoms. It also seems to be more common if your Mother had problems in pregnancy & birth.

These include exposure to drugs, medications or poisons in pregnancy, low weight at birth, brain infections and some forms of stress. There is also evidence of differences in brain structure, but environmental factors can also make you more likely to develop the disorder.

What can be done to help adults with ADHD?

Talk about the options with your Psychiatrist to find out the advantages and disadvantages of both medication and psychotherapy which can be used on their own or together.

Psychotherapy 

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) approaches can help you:

  • Find ways to make sure that you do important tasks.
  • Find ways to organise your life better.
  • Get self-critical thoughts in perspective & feel better about yourself.
  • Reduce unhelpful feelings of anxiety.

What can I do to help myself?

1) Discuss your problems with people around you

Your friends, family, teachers or workmates know you well. Find out how they see your problems and if they have noticed things which make things better or worse for you.

2) What makes things better or worse?

Think about the things in your life that seem to help – or to make it worse.

3) Doing things which help you

You may find it hard to organise things. Make lists, keep diaries, stick up reminders, and set aside some time to plan what you need to do.

  • Find ways of relaxing or letting off steam, like exercise or perhaps music or relaxation techniques.
  • Be realistic about your goals.
  • Remind yourself about the things you can do well.
  • Avoid things that make it worse for you. These can include arguments with other people, drugs and alcohol, and pressure at work.
  • Avoid spending time with people who encourage you to drink too much or use drugs or get involved in stressful situations.
  • Join a self-help group or use some of the web chat rooms for people with ADHD.f your symptoms are making you distressed or depressed, your GP may refer you to a community mental health team

4) ADHD and you – Think about how your ADHD affects: 

  • How you think and feel?
  • How does it affect the people around you?

5) Find out more about ADHD

There are lots of things to read about ADHD in books and on the internet and also support groups where you can find out more. 

What medication can I use?

These are mostly ‘stimulant’ medications, related to amphetamines. They include Methylphenydate and Dexamphetamine (also known as Ritalin, Concerta, Equasym, Dexadrine). Slow-release preparations usually mean you can take tablets just once a day. These drugs can be abused, so in the UK they are legally ‘controlled’ drugs. The side-effects can include appetite suppression and occasionally, psychosis.

People with ADHD, who take medication, often report better concentration, task completion, feeling calmer, more focused and reduced problems with inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity, thus reducing their impact on the impaired areas of functioning, such as employment and relationships. Other benefits include greater mood stability, improvement in sleep and self-confidence.

Before starting any medication a review of significant physical, personal and family history will be undertaken and simple investigations including blood pressure and heart rate performed. If it is agreed to start medication, a plan will be formulated and communicated with the patient’s GP.

See Also:

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