Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) presents itself as a pattern of behavioural symptoms that largely affect our ability to concentrate. The condition is usually detected during childhood but can also affect adults, with its symptoms appearing subtly as we get older.

What is ADHD?

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) presents itself as a pattern of behavioural symptoms that largely affect our ability to concentrate. Scientific understanding of the condition has defined ADHD as a chemical imbalance in the management systems of the brain.

There are three main types of ADHD: ‘predominantly hyperactive’ which sees greater levels of hyperactivity and impulsivity; ‘predominantly inattentive’ which can lead to high levels of distraction; and ‘combined type’ which sees both hyperactivity and inattention.

The condition is usually identified in children by parents or teachers and can present itself during periods of change within a child’s life, such as moving house or starting at a new school. Children with ADHD may present as over-active, unable to concentrate on tasks for lengthy periods, and impulsive in their decisions and behaviours.

ADHD may also present alongside other conditions, such as sleep problems or learning difficulties.

What causes ADHD?

ADHD is understood to be caused by a number of different biological and social factors that can vary from individual to individual.

Research has identified specific genes related to ADHD that suggest the condition is hereditary, with one third of individuals with ADHD having at least one parent who displays similar symptoms.

Mothers who experienced complications during pregnancy and birth may also find that their child presents with symptoms of ADHD during their development. Certain pregnancy medications, stress during delivery, and low birth weights can all contribute to the development of ADHD in children.

Are there differences between Adult ADHD and Child ADHD?

While ADHD is usually associated with children, some people discover that they display symptoms of ADHD in adulthood. The symptoms of Adult ADHD can be more subtle than those displayed in children, with most adults likely to struggle with poor concentration than an over-active mind and hyperactivity. Symptoms of Adult ADHD also tend to vary between individuals.

Adult ADHD can also present alongside a number of other conditions, such as obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), depression, or personality disorders. As these conditions can mask the symptoms of Adult ADHD, a definitive diagnosis can be more difficult to obtain.

Applying the symptoms of Child ADHD to adults does not quite match up, but it is always useful to look over common symptoms of ADHD if you are concerned that you may have the condition.

What are the signs of Adult ADHD?

There are a number of symptoms associated with Adult ADHD:

Difficulty Concentrating: This can involve being easily distracted when undertaking tasks, leaving an individual unable to complete simple tasks or making multiple errors. An individual may also ‘zone out’ of conversations and struggle to follow what other people are saying.

Hyper-focus: An individual may become so engrossed in a task that they forget about other things around them, appearing oblivious or neglectful. For example, hyper-focusing on perfecting the stylistic layout of a document rather than completing the essay or report before time runs out.

Impulsivity: This can leave an individual struggling to remain patient. An individual may interrupt others during conversation, display little self-control, show addictive tendencies, spontaneously enter into risky situations, or act inappropriately in social situations with apparently little thought.

Hyperactivity: While hyperactivity is less common in Adult ADHD, an individual may still experience ‘racing thoughts.’ An individual could be easily agitated, talk excessively, crave excitement, or find it difficult to sit still.

Emotional Difficulty: An individual may struggle with certain emotional situations. They may become easily stressed, frustrated, irritated, or angry. Mood swings and issues with confidence could also develop.

Disorganisation: Due to other symptoms of Adult ADHD, life may feel chaotic for individuals with the condition. Maintaining a schedule or managing responsibilities may feel difficult. An individual may procrastinate, show poor timekeeping, or struggle to keep things tidy.

It is important not to jump to conclusions if you believe that you may be displaying symptoms of Adult ADHD. In some cases, an individual will simply be bored with life and their usual daily routine rather than suffering from serious distraction and lack of motivation. Speaking with a professional therapist or counsellor can help narrow down exact concerns.

How can Adult ADHD be treated?

There is no cure for Adult ADHD, but hep from a professional therapist or counsellor can allow individuals with the condition to manage its symptoms and reduce any difficulties it may cause.

Psychotherapy can benefit individuals with Adult ADHD, allowing them to identify and tackle problematic thoughts and behaviours that can arise from their condition and affect everyday life. A therapist or counsellor can help their client work through these issues in a safe and confidential space, drawing up a personalised treatment plan to best suit their client’s individual needs.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), a form of talking therapy, has been shown to help individuals with Adult ADHD who are experiencing low mood, anxiety, or poor self-esteem due to their condition. It can also teach individuals skills to better prioritise, plan, and socialise.

Medication can be prescribed for individuals with Adult ADHD and is often used as part of a long-term treatment plan that also involves psychotherapy. Most ADHD medications are amphetamine-based which can lead to various of side effects, including psychosis and weight loss. It is therefore important to discuss medication and its side effects with a therapist and a General Practitioner.

There are also a number of self-help techniques that can be applied to help reduce or manage symptoms of Adult ADHD. These include:

Mindfulness: A technique that allows individuals to experience the present moment and evaluate thoughts without judgement. It can help individuals react less and focus on constructive decision making.

Relaxation: Relaxation using music, yoga, meditation, exercise, or creative pursuits can help to slow the mind and release tension.

Outside Support: Seeking help within the workplace or academic environment can benefit individuals with Adult ADHD, providing structure and support.

Healthy Lifestyle Choices: Aiming for regular exercise, an established sleep schedule, and healthy diet can help improve a general sense of wellbeing. Avoiding intake of alcohol or drugs can also improve symptoms of Adult ADHD.

Lists and Diaries: Keeping a written record of important tasks and dates can help individuals with Adult ADHD to remain on top of their responsibilities and priorities.

Finding an Adult ADHD therapist through the Harley Therapy platform

The Harley Therapy platform allows you to book therapy for Adult ADHD online with top-rated counsellors and psychotherapists at a location, time, and price that suits you. All of our therapists are thoroughly vetted to guarantee they are insured and registered to practice as a therapist within the UK.

You can filter our professional therapists by cost, availability, approach, and location to narrow your search down to the best therapist or counsellor for your needs. Alternatively, you can find a recommended therapist for Adult ADHD below:

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