Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder
“I Always Knew There Was Something Different About Me.”
Do you struggle to sit still, focus on a task, tend to interrupt others while they talk, find it difficult to concentrate or act impulsively without thinking things through?
Most of us experience this from time to time, but for a person that has ADHD these behaviours are uncontrollable and persistent. It interferes with their day to day living in such a way that they struggle to learn, form lasting relationships and pursue a career. Attention deficit disorder is also known as hyperkinetic disorder.
Difference between ADHD and ADD
ADHD includes the symptom of physical hyperactivity or excessive restlessness–that’s the “H”. In ADD the symptom of hyperactivity is absent. Indeed, people with ADD can be calm and serene, not in the least hyperactive or disruptive.
ADHD is presented in three categories:
1. Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive Presentation — Symptoms of hyperactivity-impulsivity but not symptoms of inattention have been shown for at least 6 months.
2. Predominantly Inattentive Presentation — Symptoms of inattention but not symptoms of hyperactivity-impulsivity have been shown for at least 6 months.
3. Combined Presentation — Symptoms of both inattention and hyperactivity-impulsivity have been shown for at least 6 months.
Note for diagnosis
- ADHD must be present before the age of 12 years (even if an adult at first diagnosis).
- ADHD behaviour must also be present in two or more settings for example at home, school or the workplace. Someone who can pay attention at work but is inattentive only at home usually wouldn’t qualify for a diagnosis of ADHD.
Symptoms of Hyper-Impulsive ADHD:
- Often fidgets with or taps hands or feet, or squirms in seat.
- Often leaves seat in situations when remaining seated is expected (e.g., leaving seat in classroom or in their workplace)
- Running or climbing in situations where it is inappropriate
- Blurting out answers before hearing the whole question
- Talking excessively
- Interrupting or intruding on others
- Having difficulty waiting in line or taking turns
- Unable to play or engage in leisure activities quietly
- Feeling very restless, as if “driven by a motor”, and talk excessively
Symptoms of Inattentive ADHD:
- Not giving close attention to details or making careless mistakes in schoolwork, work, or other activities
- Often has difficulty sustaining attention in tasks or play activities
- Often does not seem to listen when spoken to directly
- Often has trouble organizing tasks and activities, often skipping from one uncompleted activity to another (e.g., fails to meet deadlines; messy, disorganized work; difficulty keeping organized)
- Becomes easily distracted by irrelevant stimuli, like sights and sounds (or unrelated thoughts)
- Fails to pay attention to instructions and makes careless mistakes, not finishing work, chores or duties
- Loses or forgets things needed for a task, like pencils, books, assignments or tools
- Avoids, dislikes or is reluctant to engage in things that take a lot of mental effort for a long period of time
- Is often forgetful in daily activities (e.g., doing chores, running errands; returning calls, paying bills; keeping appointments)
In the above two presentations a person should have 5 or more (6 or more for children and teens) symptoms present to be diagnosed with ADHD.
Symptoms of Combined ADHD:
- A sudden change in the child’s life (death in family, divorce, job loss of parent)
- Previously undetected seizures
- Middle ear infection, which can cause hearing problems
- Other types of medical disorder that may be affecting the child’s brain
- Learning disability
- Anxiety and/or depression
A person exhibiting hyperactivity, impulsivity and inattention are considered to have the combined presentation of ADHD, which combines all of the above symptoms.
For a diagnosis of ADHD, the symptoms must also have appeared before the age of 7 (for childhood ADHD), and have continued for at least 6 months.
Treatment of ADHD
Medication, behavioural therapy, emotional counselling, and practical support will help a person with ADHD cope with the disadvantages of the disorder.
The specific class of medication most often prescribed for ADHD, are stimulants. These are well-tolerated, act quickly (usually soon after a person takes them), and in most people, have few side effects.
These medications only control ADHD symptoms on the day they are taken, so it’s important to remember that the disorder is not actually cured. If one medication doesn’t appear to be working after a few weeks of treatment, a doctor will often try another medication. This is normal and most people will switch medications to find the one that works best for them at least once.
Stimulant medications commonly prescribed for attention deficit disorder include methylphenidate (Ritalin, Concerta, Metadate, Methylin) and certain amphetamines (Dexedrine, Dextrostat, Adderall). Methylphenidate is a short acting drug, and in older forms, had to be taken multiple times a day. Longer-acting versions of the drug are now available for once-daily use. Although taking stimulants for treatment may seem risky, there is significant research that demonstrates that when taken as directed by your psychiatrist or physician, they are safe and effective in the treatment of adult ADHD.
The side effects of stimulants may include reduced appetite, headache, a “jittery” feeling, irritability, sleep difficulties, gastrointestinal upset, increased blood pressure, depression or anxiety, and/or psychosis or paranoia. If you experience any of these symptoms, you should talk to your doctor.
In psychotherapy (commonly, cognitive-behavioural therapy for ADHD), the patient can be helped to talk about upsetting thoughts and feelings, explore self-defeating patterns of behaviour, learn alternative ways to handle emotions, feel better about him or herself despite the disorder, identify and build on their strengths, answer unhealthy or irrational thoughts, cope with daily problems, and control their attention and aggression.
Behaviour therapy is focused on helping an individual understand how changing their behaviour can lead to changes in how they are feeling. The goal of behaviour therapy is usually focused on increasing the person’s engagement in positive or socially reinforcing activities. Behaviour therapy is a structured approach that carefully measures what the person is doing and then seeks to increase chances for positive experience
Social skills training
Social skills training teaches the behaviours necessary to develop and maintain good social relationships, such as waiting for a turn, sharing toys, asking for help, or certain ways of responding to teasing. These skills are usually not taught in the classroom or by parents — they are typically learned naturally by most children by watching and repeating other behaviours they see. But some children — especially those with attention deficit disorder — have a harder time learning these skills or using them appropriately.
Social skill training helps the child to learn and use these skills in a safe practice environment with the therapist (or parent).
Skills include learning how to have conversations with others, learning to see others’ perspective, listening, asking questions, the importance of eye contact, what body language and gestures are telling you.
Natural products vs drugs for ADHD treatment
The effect of Internet Technology on the brain. Internet Addiction Disorder also symptoms similar to ADHD – anger, inability to concentrate, sleeplessness, weak memory and lack of self control. Please explore this disorder as well.
If you are experiencing symptoms of possible ADHD, you can get more information by doing a self-test quiz: ADHD Quiz.
You may chat to a facilitator on LIVE CHAT if you need more information. The service is free and you may stay anonymous.
Remember: ADHD can only be diagnosed by a medical professional. It is in your best interest to see a psychiatrist for a diagnosis and treatment.
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You can book individual counselling sessions with the following therapist: