Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

What is ADHD?

ADHD stands for Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. It is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects both children and adults, and it is characterized by inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity.

Inattention symptoms of ADHD include difficulty paying attention, forgetfulness, and disorganization. Hyperactivity symptoms include fidgeting, restlessness, and excessive talking. Impulsivity symptoms include interrupting others, difficulty waiting their turn, and acting without thinking through the consequences.

ADHD can significantly impact an individual’s daily life, including their ability to succeed academically, maintain relationships, and manage responsibilities at work or home. However, with proper treatment and support, individuals with ADHD can manage their symptoms and lead fulfilling lives.

Diagnosis of ADHD typically involves a comprehensive evaluation by a healthcare professional, including a review of symptoms, medical history, and assessments of cognitive and behavioral functioning. Treatment can include medication, behavioral therapy, coaching, and other supportive services tailored to the individual’s needs.

What are the symptoms of ADHD?

The symptoms of ADHD can vary between individuals, but they generally fall into two categories: inattention and hyperactivity/impulsivity. Here are some common symptoms of ADHD:

Inattention symptoms:

  • Difficulty sustaining attention on tasks or activities, such as schoolwork or listening during conversations
  • Making careless mistakes or overlooking details in schoolwork, work, or other activities
  • Difficulty organizing tasks and activities
  • Avoiding tasks that require sustained mental effort, such as schoolwork or paperwork
  • Being easily distracted by unrelated stimuli
  • Frequently losing things, such as keys, phones, or wallets
  • Forgetting daily activities, such as appointments or deadlines
  • Difficulty following through on instructions or completing tasks

Hyperactivity/Impulsivity symptoms:

  • Fidgeting or squirming in seat
  • Difficulty sitting still, especially in quiet or structured environments
  • Running or climbing excessively in inappropriate situations
  • Difficulty engaging in leisure activities quietly
  • Talking excessively or interrupting others during conversations
  • Difficulty waiting for one’s turn in games or conversations
  • Frequently interrupting or intruding on others’ activities

It’s important to note that everyone can experience some of these symptoms at times, but for individuals with ADHD, these symptoms are typically more frequent, severe, and persistent, and can significantly impact daily life functioning. If you or someone you know is experiencing these symptoms, it may be helpful to consult with a healthcare professional for a comprehensive evaluation and potential treatment options

What causes ADHD?

The exact cause of ADHD is not yet fully understood, but research suggests that it is likely a combination of genetic and environmental factors.

Genetic factors: ADHD tends to run in families, which suggests that genetics play a role in its development. Studies of twins have found that ADHD has a strong genetic component, with heritability estimated to be around 70-80%.

Environmental factors: Prenatal and early childhood factors have been linked to ADHD, including exposure to toxins such as lead, alcohol, and tobacco smoke during pregnancy or early childhood. Premature birth and low birth weight have also been associated with an increased risk of ADHD. Additionally, some studies have found that early childhood trauma and stress may increase the risk of ADHD.

Neurological factors: ADHD has been associated with differences in brain structure and function, particularly in the areas of the brain that control attention and executive function.

It’s important to note that while these factors may increase the risk of developing ADHD, they do not guarantee that someone will develop the condition. More research is needed to fully understand the complex interplay between genetic and environmental factors in ADHD development.

Getting a diagnosis?

If you suspect that you or someone you know may have ADHD, it’s important to consult with a healthcare professional for a comprehensive evaluation. Here are the typical steps involved in getting an ADHD diagnosis:

1 – Initial screening: The healthcare professional will likely ask you or the person you’re concerned about a series of questions about symptoms and behavior to determine whether ADHD is a possible diagnosis.

2 – Diagnostic assessment: If ADHD is suspected, the healthcare professional will conduct a more thorough evaluation, which may involve:

  • A physical exam and medical history to rule out other medical conditions that may mimic ADHD symptoms
  • A psychological evaluation, which may include interviews, questionnaires, and other assessments to evaluate cognitive and behavioral functioning
  • Feedback from parents, teachers, or other individuals who have observed the person’s behavior

3 – Diagnosis: Based on the results of the evaluation, the healthcare professional will determine whether ADHD is a likely diagnosis and, if so, what subtype of ADHD (inattentive, hyperactive-impulsive, or combined) is present.

4 – Treatment planning: If a diagnosis of ADHD is made, the healthcare professional will work with the individual and their family to develop a treatment plan that may include medication, behavioral therapy, coaching, and other supportive services tailored to the individual’s needs.

It’s important to note that an accurate diagnosis of ADHD requires a comprehensive evaluation by a qualified healthcare professional, such as a psychiatrist, psychologist, or neurologist.

Getting support

If you have been diagnosed with ADHD, there are several strategies and lifestyle changes you can make to help manage your symptoms and improve your quality of life. Here are some ways to look after yourself with ADHD:

Medication: If medication has been prescribed, it’s important to take it as prescribed and communicate with your healthcare professional about any side effects or concerns.

Therapy: Behavioral therapy, coaching, and other supportive services can help you learn coping strategies and develop skills to manage symptoms, such as time management, organization, and social skills.

Exercise: Regular exercise can help reduce symptoms of ADHD, improve focus and concentration, and decrease impulsivity.

Sleep: Adequate sleep is important for managing ADHD symptoms. Aim for 7-8 hours of sleep per night, and establish a consistent sleep schedule.

Nutrition: A healthy diet can help improve ADHD symptoms. Avoid foods high in sugar and processed foods, and focus on whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, and lean protein.

Stress management: Stress can exacerbate ADHD symptoms, so it’s important to find healthy ways to manage stress. Relaxation techniques such as meditation, yoga, or deep breathing can be helpful.

Support system: Having a supportive network of family, friends, and healthcare professionals can be beneficial in managing ADHD. Seek out support groups or organizations dedicated to ADHD awareness and advocacy.

Remember, everyone’s experience with ADHD is different, so it’s important to work with a healthcare professional to develop a personalized plan for managing your symptoms and improving your quality of life.

We are here to help

We understand that living with ADHD can be challenging, but our team is here to help you overcome those challenges and live a fulfilling life. We believe in a compassionate, non-judgmental approach that empowers our clients to take control of their lives and achieve their goals.

If you’re ready to take the first step towards managing your ADHD, contact us today to schedule a consultation. We look forward to working with you.