Almost everyone experiences symptoms of Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) at some point in their lives. You probably do not have ADHD if the symptoms are recent or have occurred only occasionally in the past. These symptoms begin and persist since childhood, before the age of 12. A diagnosis of ADHD suggests that symptoms are severe and cause continuing problems in more than one area of your life.
ADHD is typically characterized by impulse control, inability to focus, or pay attention. ADHD is the most commonly diagnosed condition in young people. A 2016 survey shows 6% of children and teens from age 5-19 and 4% of adults are diagnosed with ADHD. What is shocking is that while the diagnosis is common among children, more than 80% of adults with ADHD have not been diagnosed or treated. People with ADHD also often experience other mental health concerns such as anxiety, substance use, depression, OCD, panic etc., which also causes misdiagnosis.
Range of Symptoms
ADHD symptoms are categorized as inattentiveness, hyperactivity/impulsiveness or both of these combined. Examples of inattentiveness can involve challenges sustaining attention, disorganized thinking, difficulty in mental tasks and forgetfulness, among others. Such inattentiveness can lead to mistakes, paralyzing procrastination and poor time management skills. Symptoms of hyperactivity/ impulsivity can include fidgeting, inability to engage in activities quietly, losing things, feeling restless, excessively talking and finding it challenging to wait.
Symptoms of ADHD appear distinctive at different ages. For instance, a school-aged child might experience difficulties with social interactions, academic problems or self-esteem issues. In contrast, an adolescent might experience excessive injury/ accidents, risky sexual behaviours, or issues with substance use. An adult might get into many vehicle accidents, experience relationship and substance use problems, and find it challenging to keep a job. Unproductive relationships and social interactions can induce more social isolation and a self-directed withdrawal from society.
Treatment & Counselling
Treatment for adult ADHD is similar to treatment for childhood ADHD. Treatment includes medications, psychological counselling/ psychotherapy and treatment for any mental health concerns that occur alongside.
Counselling helps individuals with ADHD to understand the factors and structures that influence their symptoms, and give them tools to regulate and cope. While many types of therapies are adept at supporting behaviourally, they are also crucial in working on client’s interpersonal relationships and communications patterns- both usually affected by ADHD.
Therapeutic groups focused on ADHD can also be helpful in improving a client’s understanding of the symptoms and facilitate interactions with others on the same journey.
Treatment focusing on an individual’s level and quality of communication with their environment has had a sustainable long-term effect on their severity of ADHD and whether the condition manifests at all. Psychotherapy can play a crucial role in helping the individual function better!
Biederman, J. (2004). Impact of comorbidity in adults with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Journal of clinical Psychiatry, 65, 3-7.
Caye, A., Swanson, J., Thapar, A., Sibley, M., Arseneault, L., Hechtman, L., … & Rohde, L. A. (2016). Life span studies of ADHD—conceptual challenges and predictors of persistence and outcome. Current psychiatry reports, 18(12), 1-11.
Haverkampf, C. J. (2017). ADHD and Psychotherapy (2).
Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (2019, June 22). Adult attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Mayo Clinic. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/adult-adhd/symptoms-causes/syc-20350878
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