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ADHD





ADHD

Causes of ADHD

The exact cause of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is not fully understood, although a combination of factors is thought to be responsible.

Genetics

ADHD tends to run in families and, in most cases, it is thought the genes you inherit from your parents are a significant factor in developing the condition.

Research shows that both parents and siblings of a child with ADHD are four to five times more likely to have ADHD themselves.

However, the way ADHD is inherited is likely to be complex and isn’t thought to be related to a single genetic fault.

Brain function and structure

Research has identified a number of possible differences in the brains of people with ADHD compared to those who don’t have the condition, although the exact significance of these is not clear.

For example, studies involving brain imaging scans have suggested that certain areas of the brain may be smaller in people with ADHD, whereas other areas may be larger.

Research has also shown that the brain may take an average of two to three years longer to mature in children with ADHD, compared to children who don’t have the condition.

Other studies have suggested that people with ADHD may have an imbalance in the level of chemicals in the brain called neurotransmitters, or that these chemicals may not work properly.

Other possible causes

Various other causes have also been suggested as having a role in the development of ADHD, including:

  • being born prematurely (before the 37th week of pregnancy)
  • having a low birthweight
  • brain damage either in the womb or in the first few years of life
  • drinking alcohol, smoking or misusing drugs while pregnant
  • exposure to high levels of toxic lead at a young age

However, the evidence for many of these factors is inconclusive, and more research is needed to determine if they do in fact contribute to ADHD.

Published Date
2014-06-24 11:07:59Z
Last Review Date
2014-05-14 00:00:00Z
Next Review Date
2016-05-14 00:00:00Z
Classification
ADHD,Brain






ADHD

Diagnosing ADHD

If you think you or your child may have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), you might want to consider speaking to your GP about it.

If you are worried about your child, it may help to speak to their teachers before seeing your GP, to find out if they have any concerns about your child’s behaviour.

Your GP can’t formally diagnose ADHD, but they can discuss your concerns with you and refer you for a specialist assessment, if necessary.

When you see your GP, they may ask you:

  • about your symptoms or those of your child
  • when these symptoms started
  • where the symptoms occur - for example, at home or in school
  • whether the symptoms affect your or your child’s day-to-day life - for example, if they make socialising difficult
  • if there have been any recent significant events in your or your child’s life, such as a death or divorce in the family
  • if there is a family history of ADHD
  • about any other problems or symptoms of different health conditions you or your child may have

Next steps

If your GP thinks your child may have ADHD, they may first suggest a period of “watchful waiting” lasting around 10 weeks - to see if your child’s symptoms improve, stay the same or get worse. They may also suggest starting a parent training or education programme to teach you ways of helping your child (see treating ADHD for more information).

If your child’s behaviour doesn’t improve, and both you and your GP thinks it is seriously affecting their day-to-day life, your GP should refer you and your child to a specialist for a formal assessment (see below).

For adults with possible ADHD, your GP will assess your symptoms and may refer you for an assessment if:

  • you were not diagnosed with ADHD as a child, but your symptoms began during childhood and have been ongoing since then
  • your symptoms cannot be explained by a mental health condition
  • your symptoms have a significant impact on your day-to-day life - for example, if you are underachieving at work or find intimate relationships difficult

You may also be referred to a specialist if you had ADHD as a child or young person, and your symptoms are now causing moderate or severe functional impairment.

Assessment

There are a number of different specialists you or your child may be referred to for a formal assessment, including:

  • a child or adult psychiatrist
  • a paediatrician (a specialist in children’s health)
  • a learning disability specialist, social worker or occupational therapist with expertise in ADHD

Who you are referred to will depend on your age and what is available in your local area.

There is no simple test to determine whether you or your child have ADHD, but your specialist can make an accurate diagnosis after a detailed assessment that may include:

  • a physical examination, which can help rule out other possible causes for the symptoms
  • a series of interviews with you or your child
  • interviews or reports from other significant people, such as partners, parents and teachers

The criteria for making a diagnosis of ADHD in children, teenagers and adults are outlined below.

Diagnosis in children and teenagers

Diagnosing ADHD in children depends on a set of strict criteria. To be diagnosed with ADHD, your child must have six or more symptoms of inattentiveness, or six or more symptoms of hyperactivity and impulsiveness.

Read more about the symptoms of ADHD.

To be diagnosed with ADHD, your child must also have:

  • been displaying symptoms continuously for at least six months
  • started to show symptoms before the age of 12
  • been showing symptoms in at least two different settings - for example, at home and at school, to rule out the possibility that the behaviour is just a reaction to certain teachers or parental control
  • symptoms that make their lives considerably more difficult on a social, academic or occupational level
  • symptoms that are not just part of a developmental disorder or difficult phase, and are not better accounted for by another condition

Diagnosis in adults

Diagnosing ADHD in adults is more difficult because there is some disagreement about whether the list of symptoms used to diagnose children and teenagers also applies to adults.

In some cases, an adult may be diagnosed with ADHD if they have five or more symptoms of inattentiveness, or five or more symptoms of hyperactivity and impulsiveness, that are listed in diagnostic criteria for children with ADHD.

As part of your assessment, the specialist will ask about your present symptoms although, under current diagnostic guidelines, a diagnosis of ADHD in adults cannot be confirmed unless your symptoms have been present from childhood.

If you find it difficult to remember whether you had problems as a child, or you were not diagnosed with ADHD when you were younger, your specialist may wish to see your old school records or talk to your parents, teachers or anyone else who knew you well when you were a child.

For an adult to be diagnosed with ADHD, their symptoms should also have a moderate impact on different areas of their life, such as:

  • underachieving at work or in education
  • driving dangerously
  • difficultly making or keeping friends
  • difficulty in relationships with partners

If your problems are recent and did not occur regularly in the past, you are not considered as having ADHD. This is because it is currently not thought that ADHD can develop for the first time in adults.

Published Date
2014-06-24 11:13:42Z
Last Review Date
2014-05-14 00:00:00Z
Next Review Date
2016-05-14 00:00:00Z
Classification
ADHD






ADHD

Introduction

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a group of behavioural symptoms that include inattentiveness, hyperactivity and impulsiveness.

Common symptoms of ADHD include:

  • a short attention span or being easily distracted
  • restlessness, constant fidgeting or overactivity
  • being impulsive

ADHD can occur in people of any intellectual ability, although it is more common in people with learning difficulties. People with ADHD may also have additional problems, such as sleep and anxiety disorders.

Symptoms of ADHD tend to be first noticed at an early age, and may become more noticeable when a child’s circumstances change, such as when they start school. Most cases are diagnosed in children between the ages of 6 and 12.

The symptoms of ADHD usually improve with age, but many adults who are diagnosed with the condition at a young age will continue to experience problems.

Read more about the symptoms of ADHD.

Getting help 

Many children go through phases where they are restless or inattentive. This is often completely normal and does not necessarily mean they have ADHD.

However, you should consider raising your concerns with your child’s teacher, their school’s special educational needs co-ordinator (SENCO) or GP if you think their behaviour may be different to most children their age.

It’s also a good idea to speak to your GP if you are an adult and you think you may have ADHD, but you were not diagnosed with the condition as a child.

Read more about diagnosing ADHD.

What causes ADHD?

The exact cause of ADHD is unknown, but the condition has been shown to run in families, and research has identified a number of possible differences in the brains of people with ADHD compared to those who don’t have the condition.

Other factors that have been suggested as potentially having a role in ADHD include:

  • being born prematurely (before the 37th week of pregnancy)
  • having a low birthweight
  • smoking, alcohol or drug abuse during pregnancy

Read more about the causes of ADHD.

How common is ADHD?

ADHD is the most common behavioural disorder in the UK. It’s unknown exactly how many people have the condition, but most estimates suggest if affects around 2-5% of school-aged children and young people.

Childhood ADHD is more commonly diagnosed in boys than girls.

Girls with ADHD often have a form of the condition where the main symptoms relate to problems with attention rather than hyperactivity, which can cause less noticeable symptoms. It is therefore possible that ADHD could be underdiagnosed in girls, and could be more common than previously thought.

How ADHD is treated

There is no cure for ADHD, but it can be managed with appropriate educational support, advice and support for parents and affected children, alongside medication, if necessary.

Medication is often the first treatment offered to adults with ADHD, although psychological therapies such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) may also help.

Read more about treating ADHD.

Living with ADHD

Looking after a child with ADHD can be challenging, but it is important to remember that they cannot help their behaviour.

Some issues that may arise in day-to-day life include:

  • getting your child to sleep at night
  • getting ready for school on time
  • listening to and carrying out instructions
  • being organised
  • social occasions
  • shopping

Adults with ADHD may also find they have similar problems, and some may have issues with drugs, crime and employment.

Read about living with ADHD for information on ways to cope with these issues.

Published Date
2014-06-24 10:54:43Z
Last Review Date
2014-05-14 00:00:00Z
Next Review Date
2016-05-14 00:00:00Z
Classification
ADHD






ADHD

Living with ADHD

Caring for a child with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) can be draining.

The impulsive, fearless and chaotic behaviours typical of ADHD can make normal everyday activities exhausting and stressful.

Ways to cope

Although it can be difficult at times, it’s important to remember a child with ADHD cannot help their behaviour. People with ADHD find it difficult to suppress impulses, which means they do not stop to consider a situation or the consequences before they act.

If you are looking after a child with ADHD, you may find the below advice helpful.

Plan the day

Plan the day so your child knows what to expect. Set routines can make a difference to how a child with ADHD copes with everyday life. For example, if your child has to get ready for school, break it down into structured steps, so they know exactly what they need to do.

Set clear boundaries

Make sure everyone knows what behaviour is expected, and reinforce positive behaviour with immediate praise or rewards. Be clear, using enforceable consequences if boundaries are overstepped (such as taking away a privilege) and follow these through consistently.

Be positive

Give specific praise. Instead of saying a general, “Thanks for doing that,” you could say, “You washed the dishes really well. Thank you.” This will make it clear to your child that you are pleased, and why.

Giving instructions

If you are asking your child to do something, give brief instructions and be specific. Instead of asking, “Can you tidy your bedroom?” say, “Please put your toys into the box, and put the books back onto the shelf.” This makes it clearer what your child needs to do and creates opportunities for praise when they get it right.

Incentive scheme

Set up your own incentive scheme using a points chart or star chart, so good behaviour can earn a privilege. For example, behaving well on a shopping trip will earn your child time on the computer or some sort of game. Involve your child in it and allow them to help decide what the privileges will be.

These charts need regular changes or they become boring. Targets should be:

  • immediate (for example, daily)
  • intermediate (for example, weekly)
  • long-term (for example, three-monthly)

Try to focus on just one or two behaviours at a time.

Intervene early

Watch for warning signs. If your child looks like they are becoming frustrated, overstimulated and about to lose self-control, intervene. Distract your child if possible, by taking them away from the situation, which may calm them down.

Social situations

Keep social situations short and sweet. Invite friends to play, but keep playtimes short so your child does not lose self-control. Do not aim to do this when your child is feeling tired or hungry, such as after a day at school.

Exercise

Make sure your child gets lots of physical activity during the day. Walking, skipping and playing sport can help your child wear themselves out and improve their quality of sleep. Make sure they are not doing anything too strenuous or exciting near to bedtime.

Read our page on health and fitness, which includes information on getting active, and how much activity you and your child should be doing.

Eating

Keep an eye on what your child eats. If your child is hyperactive after eating certain foods, which may contain additives or caffeine, keep a diary of these and discuss them with your GP.

Bedtime

Stick to a routine. Make sure your child goes to bed at the same time each night and gets up at the same time in the morning. Avoid overstimulating activities in the hours before bedtime, such as computer games or watching TV.

Night time

Sleep problems and ADHD can be a vicious circle. ADHD can lead to sleep problems, which in turn can make symptoms worse. Many children with ADHD will repeatedly get up after being put to bed and have interrupted sleep patterns. Trying a sleep-friendly routine can help your child and make bedtime less of a battleground.

Read more information about creating a bedtime ritual for better sleep.

Help at school

Children with ADHD often have problems with their behaviour at school, and the condition can have a negative impact on a child’s academic progress.

Speak to your child’s teachers or their school’s special educational needs co-ordinator (SENCO) about any extra support your child may need.

Adults with ADHD

If you are an adult living with ADHD, you may find the following advice useful:

  • make lists, keep diaries, stick up reminders and set aside some time to plan what you need to do if you find it hard to stay organised
  • let off steam by exercising regularly
  • find ways to help you relax, such as listening to music or learning relaxation techniques
  • if you have a job, speak to your employer about your condition, and discuss anything they can do to help you work better
  • talk to your doctor about your suitability to drive, as you will need to tell the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) if your ADHD affects your driving
  • contact or join a local or national support group - these organisations can put you in touch with other people in a similar situation, and they can be a good source of support, information and advice

For more advice, you can read about living with ADHD on the AADD-UK website. AADD-UK is a charity specifically for adults with ADHD.

AADD-UK also has a list of adult support groups across the UK.

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Published Date
2014-06-24 11:40:06Z
Last Review Date
2014-05-14 00:00:00Z
Next Review Date
2016-05-14 00:00:00Z
Classification
ADHD






ADHD

Medicine guides

The list below is a combination of the and brand names of medicines available in the UK. Each name provides a link to a separate website (Medicine Guides) where you can find detailed information about the medicine. The information is provided as part of an on-going medicine information project between NHS Direct, Datapharm Communications Ltd and other organisations.

The medicines listed below hold a UK licence to allow their use in the treatment of this condition. medicines are not included.

The list is continually reviewed and updated but it may not be complete as the project is still in progress and guides for new medicines may still be in development.

If you are taking one of these medicines for a different condition, or your medicine for this condition is not mentioned here at all, speak to your prescriber, GP or pharmacist, or contact NHS Direct on 0845 46 47.

Published Date
2011-09-11 15:10:26Z
Last Review Date
2010-05-18 00:00:00Z
Next Review Date
2012-05-18 00:00:00Z
Classification
ADHD

































































Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) 

Introduction 

Child health 6-15

Information on child health, including healthy diet, fitness, sex education and exam stress

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a group of behavioural symptoms that include inattentiveness, hyperactivity and impulsiveness.

Common symptoms of ADHD include:

  • a short attention span or being easily distracted
  • restlessness, constant fidgeting or overactivity
  • being impulsive

ADHD can occur in people of any intellectual ability, although it is more common in people with learning difficulties. People with ADHD may also have additional problems, such as sleep and anxiety disorders.

Symptoms of ADHD tend to be first noticed at an early age, and may become more noticeable when a child’s circumstances change, such as when they start school. Most cases are diagnosed in children between the ages of 6 and 12.

The symptoms of ADHD usually improve with age, but many adults who are diagnosed with the condition at a young age will continue to experience problems.

Read more about the symptoms of ADHD.

Getting help 

Many children go through phases where they are restless or inattentive. This is often completely normal and does not necessarily mean they have ADHD.

However, you should consider raising your concerns with your child’s teacher, their school’s special educational needs co-ordinator (SENCO) or GP if you think their behaviour may be different to most children their age.

It’s also a good idea to speak to your GP if you are an adult and you think you may have ADHD, but you were not diagnosed with the condition as a child.

Read more about diagnosing ADHD.

What causes ADHD?

The exact cause of ADHD is unknown, but the condition has been shown to run in families, and research has identified a number of possible differences in the brains of people with ADHD compared to those who don’t have the condition.

Other factors that have been suggested as potentially having a role in ADHD include:

  • being born prematurely (before the 37th week of pregnancy)
  • having a low birthweight
  • smoking, alcohol or drug abuse during pregnancy

Read more about the causes of ADHD.

How common is ADHD?

ADHD is the most common behavioural disorder in the UK. It’s unknown exactly how many people have the condition, but most estimates suggest if affects around 2-5% of school-aged children and young people.

Childhood ADHD is more commonly diagnosed in boys than girls.

Girls with ADHD often have a form of the condition where the main symptoms relate to problems with attention rather than hyperactivity, which can cause less noticeable symptoms. It is therefore possible that ADHD could be underdiagnosed in girls, and could be more common than previously thought.

How ADHD is treated

There is no cure for ADHD, but it can be managed with appropriate educational support, advice and support for parents and affected children, alongside medication, if necessary.

Medication is often the first treatment offered to adults with ADHD, although psychological therapies such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) may also help.

Read more about treating ADHD.

Living with ADHD

Looking after a child with ADHD can be challenging, but it is important to remember that they cannot help their behaviour.

Some issues that may arise in day-to-day life include:

  • getting your child to sleep at night
  • getting ready for school on time
  • listening to and carrying out instructions
  • being organised
  • social occasions
  • shopping

Adults with ADHD may also find they have similar problems, and some may have issues with drugs, crime and employment.

Read about living with ADHD for information on ways to cope with these issues.

Page last reviewed: 15/05/2014

Next review due: 15/05/2016

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Comments

The 30 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

catsrule310 said on 20 May 2014

I am really concerned that I may have ADHD as an adult (I am 38). I was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome when I was 19, and I understand that ADHD and Asperger’s often do go together. Throughout my life I have had trouble concentrating, sticking to tasks and being extremely impulsive. I don’t know how feasible it is to get a diagnosis as an adult though, or if having a formal diagnosis would actually achieve anything very much, because being diagnosed with an ASD certainly didn’t lead to any kind of medical support!

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Healthconscious223 said on 12 April 2014

I am shocked by some of the doctors responses to those trying to be diagnosed with Adult ADHD. NICE guidelines have been published mandating that Adult ADHD must be taken seriously by the NHS, properly diagnosed, treated, etc. It is clearly unacceptable that some GPs throughout the country are even refusing to give a referral simply due to the age of the patients despite guidelines being published on this issue. I would expect better from GPs and expect them to follow NICE guidelines properly.

Luckily, I have been diagnosed as a child, but these comments on here make me worry about access to any potential treatment I may need as I approach adulthood.

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concerned gran said on 03 April 2014

I have been concerned about my grandson since he was about 18months old when it became clear there was a problem, he is 7 now, he was late speaking, cant concentrate, fidgets, bad behaviour at school, talks a lot, hard to discipline etc he is behind at school and school have asked his mum to have him assessed but she is totally in denial and says she doesnt want him labelled. I find this so frustrating as i would have tried to do the best for him and had him assessed years ago.

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no1welshgal said on 05 February 2014

I got asked if I had ADHD so I looked it up.
The symptoms make so much sense to what has been going on for me over all these years, im 33!
Im really worried about going to a GP with this.
Im not trying to diagnose myself, but Ive alway knew there was something else going on but didnt know what it was.
Any advice on what to do next?
Is there acctually support out there?
Is it worth finding out or do I leave it? Is caused a lot of problems and and help would be appreciated.

Thank you :-)

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FOB24 said on 18 January 2014

I looked at the symptoms of ADHD and I have notice I might have some of the symptoms. I’m 17 years old and at home I’m loud and I’m very hyper at times. At college, I’m shy and dont like talking but I get distracted really easy. I have a feeling that I might have the adult case of ADHD. I scared about telling my parents. The only reason I looked into this as my friends says I’m werid and too loud and one friend said I might have ADHD. Should I tell my parents as I’m scared of telling them.

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FOB24 said on 18 January 2014

I looked at the symptoms of ADHD and I have notice I might have some of the symptoms. I’m 17 years old and at home I’m loud and I’m very hyper at times. At college, I’m shy and dont like talking but I get distracted really easy. I have a feeling that I might have the adult case of ADHD. I scared about telling my parents. The only reason I looked into this as my friends says I’m werid and too loud and one friend said I might have ADHD. Should I tell my parents as I’m scared of telling them.

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JohnUsher87 said on 23 September 2013

Hello I have ADHD and was diagnosed when I was 6 years old I am now 25 and have kids of my own whom I am sure have ADHD my Daughter especially I have learned to cope with most symptoms but they never really go away and family life and commitment is extremely difficult sometimes when my wife and i have arguements i just dont know what to do and so i end up loosing my temper it is still really hard to hold down a job aswell and since i pretty much failed at school its sometimes hard to even get a job and i still struggle with getting round to doing things that iv started and sometimes dont end up finishing because i get bored
now the point im getting to is even though i have all these problems and struggle so much i can get by i just try and take a step back and breathe or i try and think before i act. i just keep telling myself this and sometimes it works with regards to the parents who think or their kids do have adhd it is very hard to manage them sometimes but what worked for me when i was a kid was my parents took things away from me when i was acting up and it usually worked but bribery does get old quite quick with children but it can work well sometimes. now with my daughter that does work every now and then. but what works best for me and my wife is the "time out chair" where we put her if she is naughty for maybe 5-10 min depending on what they have done or wont do. dont forget most of us parents are bigger than our kids so when they are still like 3-7 years we could most likely restrain them with "apropriate" strength. like when my daughter who is nearly 4 refuses to go in the bath i will pick her up put her in and wash her because she then knows that im annoyed and she cannot resist me when i get forcefull again "use apropriate" force other things you can try are ADHD groups on the internet like Facebook has a couple and other chat forums for adults i hope this may be of help to someone coz i know how frustrating ADHD can be

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chan152 said on 03 September 2013

hi i have spoken to a few people and they think my son might have adhd im not sure im going to the doctors monday, he is always on the go hes 3 1/2 doesnt stop changes from one thing to another instantly , hits out and when asked y he says i dont know, breaking things never before but now argues shouts swears sometimes he knows its wrong but does it hes not stupid he knows but still does it , hates me on the phone plays up when anyone at mine wants all my attention constantly . i have no problems with his sleep , eating not to good wont sit still to eat , doesnt play with anyone at preschool rather be around the teachers anyone else had this problem as im realy not sure

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Ashleyp2 said on 19 August 2013

For all those looking for information on ADHD, and have been let down by the knowledge of GPs. Contact ADDISS the national adhd charity. They are EXTREMELY USEFUL and run a helpline for the whole of the UK.

If you are an adult, you CAN recieve a diagnosis, help and support for managing you adhd.

ADDISS also hold Adhd conferences by internationally renowed speakers. I went to one last year, and it was absolutely amazing. Ashley Mckensie the Judo Olympian spoke with his Mother about his ADHD and had us in laughter and tears.

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plzdiagnoseme said on 03 June 2013

I have just read a lot of the comments on here and im struggling to believe that the issues continue back so many year but there has been no progression in services being offered.
I live within the Medway NHS and Ii have struggled with depression for the last 6 years, i recently started looking into ADHD and was very surprised the similarities of peoples profile and undertaking many simple website diagnostic explained that I should book an appointment with my GP, which does for some reason take me to build up a lot of courage to even get down there. I did and could not comprehend the reaction i was able to receive. The exact same comment i’ve seen posted on here

Your situation is so similar to mine; I actually went to my GP about it and he basically said:
"We don’t know enough about it, you might not have it and even if you do, you’re an adult so there’s nothing at all we can do."

I was also told that, on advice from the Dr that she has tried many times and the referral centre just sends back the referral form telling the Dr to diagnose the symptoms which i describe and that they are only able to advice on children ADHD, and we have no adult service!!!!! How many time has the Dr had to tell people that, sorry we don’t have anything to help. Once i was told by my Dr how the mental health services in medway are terrible, and now this please wot on earth is going!! they’ve been unable to supply me with any services to aid with my depression I am now unable to access services to do with ADHD.

I always struggled at school and was unable to finish, i was lucky enough to be given a chance in college which i fortunately flourished at. Then i moved to uni and the problems started to become more poininot. I just want answers to my issues, does that seem so hard, I can finding hundreds of website which tell me the success of treatment so why am and the rest of the suffers not being supplied a service. Medway NHS dont ignore us we need help now!!

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plzdiagnoseme said on 03 June 2013

I have just read a lot of the comments on here and im struggling to believe that the issues continue back so many year but there has been no progression in services being offered.
I live within the Medway NHS and Ii have struggled with depression for the last 6 years, i recently started looking into ADHD and was very surprised the similarities of peoples profile and undertaking many simple website diagnostic explained that I should book an appointment with my GP, which does for some reason take me to build up a lot of courage to even get down there. I did and could not comprehend the reaction i was able to receive. The exact same comment i’ve seen posted on here

Your situation is so similar to mine; I actually went to my GP about it and he basically said:
"We don’t know enough about it, you might not have it and even if you do, you’re an adult so there’s nothing at all we can do."

I was also told that, on advice from the Dr that she has tried many times and the referral centre just sends back the referral form telling the Dr to diagnose the symptoms which i describe and that they are only able to advice on children ADHD, and we have no adult service!!!!! How many time has the Dr had to tell people that, sorry we don’t have anything to help. Once i was told by my Dr how the mental health services in medway are terrible, and now this please wot on earth is going!! they’ve been unable to supply me with any services to aid with my depression I am now unable to access services to do with ADHD.

I always struggled at school and was unable to finish, i was lucky enough to be given a chance in college which i fortunately flourished at. Then i moved to uni and the problems started to become more poininot. I just want answers to my issues, does that seem so hard, I can finding hundreds of website which tell me the success of treatment so why am and the rest of the suffers not being supplied a service. Medway NHS dont ignore us we need help now!!

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Worried1422 said on 07 May 2013

My son was diagnosed in December 2012 with ADHD (inattentive). He is 21. This diagnosis came about after having left college to study English and American literature at university. His life literally fell apart. A high achiever, He had attended a private school where support and assistance in reminders to produce work was plentiful. When he became truly independent and responsible for all of his own workload and prioritising he just couldn’t manage. A purely chance comment by someone outside his normal circle of friends seemed to answer more questions than it raised when an observation was made that ‘he must have’ ADD, there was no other explanation for the disorganisation, inability to prioritise, procrastination etc, etc, the list goes on. With no services available he sought the assistance of the student body at the university who gladly made a brief assessment and referred him to the on site GP. From here we arranged for a psychiatric assessment which determined that he did indeed have an extreme case of ADD. Quite text book by all accounts. He is now trying to come to terms with the medication and whilst it isn’t the answer to his prayers, it is getting him to a place where he is managing his course, which is as much as we can hope for at this stage. It is a process, he knows that. He isn’t expecting miracles but is on the right road. He is determined to find out as much as he can to assist himself as the mental health assistance is poor in the area where he attends university so he has little in the way of choices if he wants to succeed. Mainly, he has to help himself. It’s difficult and it takes a lot of planning and he has to cope with more changes as he flys to America this summer for a year in an American university as part of his course, completely unassisted and self reliant. It will be a challenge, he knows that but can only try his best. Life will still go on, even without his degree if he doesn’t make it but it won’t be for the want of trying.

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chrislaw1 said on 16 April 2013

I was diagnosed with ADHD at the age of 7 and i struggled with it all through my life. I then got diagnosed with Adult ADHD at the age of 18 and since then the amount of support i have had has been very minimal. I went to my GP a few months ago about my regular mood swings and my GP said i could refer you to a councillor but i wouldn’t have any hopes as there is no one that has enough knowledge of ADHD to be able to deal with your case.
However, on a brighter side it has given me the courage and willingness to go ahead and set up my own ADHD Support Group as i have collected a large amount of information and have a wide range of knowledge that i would like to talk to others with ADHD about and try and help them try and cope with the condition.

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netroman28 said on 05 April 2013

I’m at the beginning of researching ADHD as I believe I may have suffered with it as a child and my daughter I believe has.

Certainly the things I have read have opened my eyes to my behaviour and certainly that of my children which has inspired me to not things I learn on my own page at http://kidsattentiondisorders.com/

Even now at nearly 43 I find myself showing symptoms; even after training my mind a little to try and concentrate. I can say though as a uni graduate that it doesn’t have to stop you doing well

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someguy92 said on 11 June 2012

Wow User661649 , I just read that and actually had to check if I’d posted that myself….

Your situation is so similar to mine; I actually went to my GP about it and he basically said:
"We don’t know enough about it, you might not have it and even if you do, you’re an adult so there’s nothing at all we can do."

Doesn’t stop both me (and my wife especially) being fairly sure I am though =/

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ADHD Oxfordshire said on 04 June 2012

Message to User661649
There is a support group and other information and coaching help in your area. See www.adhdoxfordshire.co.uk

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User661649 said on 01 April 2012

I’m looking for advise on ADD, I am allmost 100% sure I have ADD but as a 19 year old I’m totaly unsure what I can do about it.

I have allways been hormonal, forgetfull, disorganised, anxious, inpulsive and a bit of a day dreamer, but since moving to university I’ve become my own worse enemy and its spiraled out of controll.

I lose things on an allmost hourley basis, dispite doing my best I can’t seem to do coursework in peices untill im so desperate I can think of nothing else, and then ill not eat/sleep/or rest for days at a time untill im allmost halucinating with exhaustion.

Last semester I barley slept, or did for three hour stints, this semester I’m sleeping 16 hours at a time and can’t motivate myself out of bed. I’m an upbeat person by nature but sometimes I can’t motivate myself out off bed for anything.. including the fire alarm in my halls.

Yesterday I had to walk out of an maths exam because I felt so sick and clostrophobic I couldn’t carry on.

I’m not a weak person, dispite being dyslexic I study psychology and english and I’ve never failed a subject in my life. It’s not stress, I lived and cared for my bi polar boyfriend from the age of 16 and have it cushty in Oxford compared to my intense teenage years.

But since I moved away all my coping stratagies and support systems have gone and I’m so frustrated with myself.. I don’t want to let myself or the people around me down and I try my best to organise my life better and I just cant.

If I don’t get help I’m going to throw my degree away and I don’t know how I’ll forgive myself. I also don’y know how to exsplain my actions to ther people as its only just been sugested to me that I’m ADD.

My local G.P is so awfull, imn scared they’ll just send me away with anti depresants.. is it even worth going at all?

I have no idea where to proceed from at this point, any advise would be appreciated.

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endoftetherreached said on 17 March 2012

i have a 16 year old sons who has struggled for the last 5 years to get the help he wants. He was always an active on the go child,and looking back probably ticked a lot of the adhd boxes but we managed. He went to a small village school but once he got to secondary school things went from bad to worse. He is now in his GCSE year, he hugely lacks concentration, sees no relevance in anything,when extremely stressed he has violent outbursts. On a good day he is a lovely articulate, bright, and good fun to be with. It has taken us till now to see the local cahms team but with only a couple of years to go till he is out in ‘the big wide world’ the help is slow, sometimes nonexistant and so frustrationg. He is the one asking for help- trying to get across that it is not us that need to know ‘how to handle him’ to the profesionals we have seen so far is beyond frustrating. He is the youngest of 4 children, we have a strong family which is just aswell, we set firm boundaries but we are making no progress. meanwhile the GCSEs are coming towwards us like a fast moving train and the stress this along with the usual being 16 pressures brings is enormous. I would be very grateful if anyone has any ideas or help.

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Orquidia said on 02 January 2012

I’m saddened by the ignorance by some of these commenters who have no idea but spout unproven facts and made up statistics.
There’s no blood test for most neurological and mental health issues. That doesn’t mean these conditions don’t exist. Our technology is not at that stage yet. Hopefully one day.
Brain scans do show something however. I’ve taken ADHD drugs, if taken adequately, they are not addictive. In fact my main problem was constantly forgetting to take them. That’s not addiction.
ADHD doesn’t just affect school or academics, it affects me socially with relationships, in my work, in my home, my finances,my leisure and even my intimate moments.
It’s so frustrating to be constantly using your energy going around in circles, with my life a chaos. All of these come with depression.
And no, the concentration is not because of the depression and anxiety. Rather, the other way around, who wouldn’t be depressed and anxious when you never know what’s going on, people are constantly on your case, and judging and judging.
I don’t like trying to study for hours and only manage to study half a page(yes, I do take breaks, I cannot sit down for hours.) And being led by my impulses, and spending more than I can afford.
I’ve had two suicide attempts and I don’t appreciate ignorant fools trying to tell me ADHD doesn’t exist. Why am I like this? Oh, you mean I’m just lazy and I should try harder? I try harder to do everything than you do. You have no concept of the time and energy to get out of the house in the morning, of thinking every single step out mentally and who knows which stage I’ll drift off.
One of my friends had a mild concussion and was able to finally understand how I feel all the time. Maybe we should start concussing neurotypicals so they can get a taste of ADHD.

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Northern Lights said on 01 December 2011

There is no question that ADHD exists. None whatsoever. The only people who think that it does not, are those who have not lived with the condition or do not have a relative with the condition. My 10 year old son has this and it has dominated our lives. He was diagnosed two years ago (not by a medical professional who, by the way, kept misdiagnosing him) but by his karate instructor within the first hour of his first lesson. The instructor recognised the signs and symptons straight away. I didn’t even know this was what was wrong until I ordered books from Amazon and started reading. My son is hyperactive sometimes but he is predominantly inattentive as am I, and he can stare into space and look like a total space cadet. He cannot focus for more than a few seconds unless he is very interested in something (this is often where professionals thrown off the scent). ADHD kids CAN concentrate but only on a few things that they are really into. I recommend a book by Dr Daniel Amen called Healing the Six Types of ADHD. I have had no help whatsoever from Hampshire CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services) since my son has been a patient. The psychiatrist prescribed Ritalin which sent my son into an anxious frenzy where he paced up and down and pulled out his hair, and then Atomoxitine which, his teacher informs me, makes him look tired and has robbed him of his ‘sparkle’. My son does have a cheeky, funny streak which I don’t want to see evaporate but I do want an end to the horrendous screaming fits and the Strattera (the brand name for Atomoxitine) does nothing to address this. If my son is not on drugs, he is dropped from Hampshire CAMHS patient list. How disgusting is that? Psychiatrists seem to belicenced drug psuhers. They offer no family therapy whatsover and this is what we need. We need strategies of managing my son’s screaming fits and I can’t get any help anywhere for this. I have written to my MP re. this as a last resort.

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kym86 said on 29 November 2011

being a mother of a child with ADHD i feel very worried by the views of some extremely ignorant people, who feel it is their right to judge.how can any of you say ADHD/ADD does not exist? if you have never had to live with the condition or with somebody with the condition then it would be easy to make a prejudiced decision, that quite frankly is not yours to make. but how is it that i have tried for years to educate my son with the help of many schools and professionals and it is only now at the age of 8 after having been diagnosed with ADHD and being prescribed with equasym that my son is finally starting to learn to read and to receive and education and to be able to fully integrate with his peers properly. i can finally take my son on holiday without the worry of how he will cope with the over excitement and long waiting times at airports, how we can sit and read together or how we can even have a proper conversation that lasts? i suppose you will have some nifty excuse for this up your sleeves but i honestly don’t care to hear it! as a mother who loves my son and wishes for him to succeed in life i feel as the risks of the drugs are worth it as do the two pediatricians i have been seeing. i’m not saying the drug has made my life perfect but it is giving my son a chance at an education and it is giving us some better quality family time and i’m sure my son will appreciate this when he has a career and a wholesome and healthy relationship with his family in his adult life. i hope you people never have to face any type of mental illness yourselves but if you do i really do hope your prejudiced views come in the way of your own treatment.

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MrsHmmz said on 01 November 2011

Comments like "there is no clear cut blood or lab test which proves any child has this invented disorder" show a total lack of understanding about mental health. There are very few brain-based disorders that DO have a simple test – have you ever heard of a blood test for depression, for example? Most mental disorders are diagnosed via behavioural & self report measures, not simple lab tests, but does that make them "invented"? And in any case, countless studies have shown brain differences in people with ADHD.

Arguments about "medicalising" normal children’s behaviour and "drugging" kids not only betray a huge misunderstanding of ADHD but also stem from the US situation where drug companies have more influence and doctors are under financial pressure to diagnose & prescribe. In the UK it is MUCH harder to get an ADHD diagnosis, even in cases where it seems pretty obvious. Doctors & schools in this country are very uninformed about ADHD, the services for people diagnosed with the condition just aren’t there, and prescriptions of ADHD drugs are much lower.

I’d invite any of you that don’t "believe" to live in my shoes for a day and then tell me it’s not real! In spite of being a fairly "able" person in general, my shoddy working memory, constant distractibility, inability to control my own attention & motivation (they basically have a mind of their own!), etc cause me no end of problems in my life. I never live up to my potential, and am physically & mentally exhausted from the effort it takes to merely keep my head above water in life.

I still haven’t even been diagnosed; it wasn’t heard of when I was a child and you wouldn’t believe how hard it is to find a doctor that knows anything about adult ADHD! Even when I’ve managed to get a GP to take me seriously they’ve found that there isn’t a specialist to refer me on to in my area so no one is qualified to diagnose me.

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User561390 said on 04 June 2011

It does exist but it is existance is syptomatic of other issues, problems or illnesses. If these other issues and conditions are treated then along with a little consideration for others around (not a concept valued in western society), the condition itself is also treated.
But hey, if the drugs make you feel good, then carry on taking them, if you truly have ADHD then you wouldnt take the drugs if they didnt make you feel good. Really does it matter what the label is, whether its SAD or ADD or mania. If the drugs work, the label doesnt matter.

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Sian.Hutchings said on 16 May 2011

I was diagnosed with the medical condition since I was in my nursery school , and I’ve taken medication for it for a long time now and I currently take Methylphenidate Hydrochloride , Risperidone and Bio Melatonin and the medication really does help me in many ways and the Methylphenidate can calm me down and able to focus on things at home and with other people . The Risperidone helps me with my anger problems and the Bio Melatonin helps me sleep and relax too. When I go to my reviews I had to have my height , weight and blood pressure done at every time I see the consultant. I would say to others if they might have or there child has the condition I would say go and seek professional help and get support and advice as early as possible !

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JordanHarper said on 26 April 2011

i’ve had ADHD all my life im 16 now and i’ve been on loads of different medications that just don’t seem to work. i now take atomoxetine and it’s the best so far but i fear my body will become immune to the effects just like it did with the other medicies

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bhasmanath said on 14 April 2011

I am in my 30’s and have suffered from ADHD all my life.
I was neither prescribed anything nor diagnosed as a child, and as a result my schooling was an unqualified disaster.
Obviously care must be taken with these medications, but the choice, as articulated by the father in the video, is clear; you can either have a child who does well at school, or one who does badly.
It can be easy to be taken up with the flow of dialogue and rhetoric surrounding ADHD that comes to us from the US, where the unhealthy relationship between the pharmaceutical, insurance and medical professions does lead to common overprescription of many medications.
To take a moralistic standpoint on the prescription of these medications as "giving drugs to kids", however, is inappropriate and misguided. I would even go as far as to say that it is just another face of the stigmatization that children and adults who suffer from behavioural, psychological or psychiatric disorders.
I would say to parents reading this that the choice is between a chance at success for your child, or probable failure, at school, in life.
There are dangers in these medications, yes, as there are in most things, but using due care they are negligible.

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User492629 said on 20 March 2011

Genetic studies are not proof that ADHD exists. The only dysysfunction ever found in ADHD children comes from the drug treatment itself. It is a catch all diagnosis which puts extremely young children on addictive and dangerous drugs which can and have caused sudden death when prescribed at usual doses. All children are individuals and develope at different rates and they deserve the right to do so without their every move being psychoanalysed. It is damaging and stigmatising. A child of six is not totally responsible for his/her behaviour and without a scientific biological test it is too easily being misdiagnosed and kids health is being unnecessarily put at risk. The NHS cannot afford to check every childs heart , weight, blood pressure and other every single day. Amphetamines should not be given to any child when there are many ways to help with behavioural problems other than using SPEED. Its an utter disgrace when pharmaceutical profit comes before childrens health! This is common sense , not ignorance. Drugs are not always the answer to everyone of lifes problems.

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jwest said on 23 February 2011

I don’t really know much about ADHD, but i decided to read up on it after reading an article that reminded me very much of my self. I am 17 and not very hyper but i was as a child, i used to sing loudly in public, much to the annoyance of my mum and could be quite bossy and controlling in the playground. However other symptoms such as inattentiveness and impulsiveness i do seem to posses. I have a very short attention span and in class i often find it very difficult to concentrate on what the teacher is saying. I am forgetful and when long tasks or instructions are explained to me my mind often just switches off. I would find it almost impossible to listen to complicated directions. If i find something difficult i quite often just give up if i find it uninteresting. For example when i used to do maths i would completely ignore the teacher speaking for the beginning of the lesson and then find that i didn’t no what she had asked us to do. I also am very untidy despite making an active effort to clean and i often lose things and then find it hard to find them. I am very fidgety, i am constantly tapping a foot or a finger and i often get very anxious in certain situations and react physically (like begin sweating or shaking). I have very bad attendance at school and this is partly because i find it boring despite my interest in the subjects i do. sometimes i find it hard to sleep as it feels like a cant switch my mind off, on two occasions i couldn’t sleep for a whole week because i got anxious about a variation of things and this made me feel depressed, though not for an extended period of time. When i was younger i used to steal from shops and i read somewhere this can be a result of ADHD, sometimes particularly with my family i have a very short fuse and can explode. I was wondering if anyone could tell me if this sounds like a case of ADHD. Sorry for the essay.

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jwest said on 23 February 2011

I don’t really know much about ADHD, but i decided to read up on it after reading an article that reminded me very much of my self. I am 17 and not very hyper but i was as a child, i used to sing loudly in public, much to the annoyance of my mum and could be quite bossy and controlling in the playground. However other symptoms such as inattentiveness and impulsiveness i do seem to posses. I have a very short attention span and in class i often find it very difficult to concentrate on what the teacher is saying. I am forgetful and when long tasks or instructions are explained to me my mind often just switches off. I would find it almost impossible to listen to complicated directions. If i find something difficult i quite often just give up if i find it uninteresting. For example when i used to do maths i would completely ignore the teacher speaking for the beginning of the lesson and then find that i didn’t no what she had asked us to do. I also am very untidy despite making an active effort to clean and i often lose things and then find it hard to find them. I am very fidgety, i am constantly tapping a foot or a finger and i often get very anxious in certain situations and react physically (like begin sweating or shaking). I have very bad attendance at school and this is partly because i find it boring despite my interest in the subjects i do. sometimes i find it hard to sleep as it feels like a cant switch my mind off, on two occasions i couldn’t sleep for a whole week because i got anxious about a variation of things and this made me feel depressed, though not for an extended period of time. When i was younger i used to steal from shops and i read somewhere this can be a result of ADHD, sometimes particularly with my family i have a very short fuse and can explode. I was wondering if anyone could tell me if this sounds like a case of ADHD. Sorry for the essay.

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smartbenne123 said on 13 February 2011

I do agree ADHD exists, having taken part in a genetic study with my children recently ADHD was recognised over 100 years ago, and the modern day treatment of ADHD has been based on hundreds of peices of research over 30+ yrs. The reality is medication in general can cause the outcomes listed by the user above… sudden death, weight loss, defects etc etc.
Prescribed mephylphenidate (ritalin etc) is not done lightly and it is very closely monitored by the CAMHs team & professionals. I and my child have regular health checks, blood pressure, weight, growth etc etc. Medication alone is not the solution though, behaviour modification and other areas of work also support the whole childs development and coping strategies with ADHD. Treating ADHD promptly and appropriately with or without ritalin depends on the needs of the individual. It doesn;t work for everyone, and not every individual with ADHD will feel ritalin is/works for them. They may also have side effects that outweight the benefits.

Sometimes small doses are enough to allow the neuro transmitters in the frontal cortex to fire up and pass full messages through to the synaptic membrane… enabling things like impulsivity to reduce, self control to be supported and allowing that space and time to develop learning techniques to cope into adulthood and come off the medication in time.

Now, as an adult with ADHD, medication has helped me focus and concentrate and as a result I have flourished. My son is 11 and chose to take medication during school hours as he felt better able to focus. Inappropriate or lack of treatment can lead to other disorders, behavioural issues such as ODD and OCD, and has a huge affect on self esteem and emotional well being.

Please comment when you have the facts. Ignorance results in stigma being attached to this (and other mental health) conditions, and that really is detrimental to children with an ADHD diagnosis!

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Is your child overactive?

Tips on coping with children who are overactive or have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).










ADHD

See what the doctor sees with Map of Medicine

The Map of Medicine is used by doctors throughout the NHS to determine the best treatment options for their patients. NHS Choices offers everyone in England exclusive and free access to this cutting-edge internet resource, which lets you see exactly what your doctor sees.

The information in the Map has been approved by the UK’s leading clinical experts, is based on the best available clinical evidence, and is continually updated. To take advantage of this unique resource go to:

Map of Medicine: attention defecit hyperactivity disorder

Published Date
2014-05-15 13:02:05Z
Last Review Date
2010-05-18 00:00:00Z
Next Review Date
2012-05-18 00:00:00Z
Classification
ADHD






ADHD

Symptoms of ADHD

The symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) can be categorised into two sets of behavioural problems.

These categories are:

  • inattentiveness
  • hyperactivity and impulsiveness

Most people with ADHD have problems that fall into both these categories, but this is not always the case.

For example, some people with the condition may have problems with inattentiveness, but not with hyperactivity or impulsiveness. This form of ADHD is also known as attention deficit disorder (ADD), and it can sometimes go unnoticed because the symptoms may be less obvious.

Symptoms in children and teenagers

The symptoms of ADHD in children and teenagers are well defined, and they are usually noticeable before the age of six. They occur in more than one situation, such as at home and at school.

The main signs of each behavioural problem are detailed below.

Inattentiveness

The main signs of inattentiveness are:

  • having a short attention span and being easily distracted
  • making careless mistakes - for example, in schoolwork
  • appearing forgetful or losing things
  • being unable to stick at tasks that are tedious or time-consuming
  • appearing to be unable to listen to or carry out instructions
  • constantly changing activity or task
  • having difficulty organising tasks

Hyperactivity and impulsiveness

The main signs of hyperactivity and impulsiveness are:

  • being unable to sit still, especially in calm or quiet surroundings
  • constantly fidgeting
  • being unable to concentrate on tasks
  • excessive physical movement
  • excessive talking
  • being unable to wait their turn
  • acting without thinking
  • interrupting conversations
  • little or no sense of danger

These symptoms can cause significant problems in a child’s life, such as underachievement at school, poor social interaction with other children and adults, and problems with discipline.

Related conditions in children and teenagers

Although not always the case, some children may also have signs of other problems or conditions alongside ADHD, such as:

  • anxiety disorder - which causes your child to worry and be nervous much of the time; it may also cause physical symptoms, such as a rapid heartbeat, sweating and dizziness
  • oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) this is defined by negative and disruptive behaviour, particularly towards authority figures, such as parents and teachers
  • conduct disorder - this often involves a tendency towards highly antisocial behaviour, such as stealing, fighting, vandalism and harming people or animals
  • depression
  • sleep problems - finding it difficult to get to sleep at night, and having irregular sleeping patterns
  • autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) - this affects social interaction, communication, interests and behaviour
  • epilepsy - a condition that affects the brain and causes repeated fits or seizures
  • Tourette’s syndrome - a condition of the nervous system, characterised by a combination of involuntary noises and movements called tics
  • learning difficulties such as dyslexia

Symptoms in adults

In adults, the symptoms of ADHD are more difficult to define. This is largely due to a lack of research into adults with ADHD.

ADHD is a developmental disorder; it is believed that it cannot develop in adults without it first appearing during childhood. However, it is known that symptoms of ADHD often persist from childhood into a person’s teenage years, and then adulthood. Any additional problems or conditions experienced by children with ADHD, such as depression or dyslexia, may also continue into adulthood.

By the age of 25, an estimated 15% of people diagnosed with ADHD as children still have a full range of symptoms, and 65% still have some symptoms that affect their daily lives.

The symptoms in children and teenagers, which are listed above, is sometimes also applied to adults with possible ADHD. However, some specialists say that the way in which inattentiveness, hyperactivity and impulsiveness affect adults can be very different from the way they affect children.

For example, hyperactivity tends to decrease in adults, while inattentiveness tends to get worse as the pressure of adult life increases. Also, adult symptoms of ADHD tend to be far more subtle than childhood symptoms.

Therefore, some specialists have suggested the following list of symptoms associated with ADHD in adults:

  • carelessness and lack of attention to detail
  • continually starting new tasks before finishing old ones
  • poor organisational skills
  • inability to focus or prioritise
  • continually losing or misplacing things
  • forgetfulness
  • restlessness and edginess
  • difficulty keeping quiet and speaking out of turn
  • blurting out responses and often interrupting others
  • mood swings, irritability and a quick temper
  • inability to deal with stress
  • extreme impatience
  • taking risks in activities, often with little or no regard for personal safety or the safety of others - for example, driving dangerously

Additional problems in adults with ADHD

As with ADHD in children and teenagers, ADHD in adults can occur alongside several related problems or conditions.

One of the most common conditions is depression. Other conditions that adults may have alongside ADHD include:

  • personality disorders - conditions in which an individual differs significantly from an average person, in terms of how they think, perceive, feel or relate to others
  • bipolar disorder - a condition that affects your moods, which can swing from one extreme to another
  • obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) - a condition that causes obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviour

The behavioural problems associated with ADHD can also cause problems such as difficulties with relationships, social interaction, drugs and crime. Some adults with ADHD find it hard to find and stay in a job.

Getting help

Many children go through phases where they are restless or inattentive. This is often completely normal and does not necessarily mean they have ADHD.

However, you should consider raising your concerns with your child’s teacher, their school’s special educational needs co-ordinator (SENCO) or your GP, if you think your child’s behaviour may be different to most children their age.

It’s also a good idea to speak to your GP about the possibility of having an assessment if you are an adult and you think you may have ADHD.

Read more about diagnosing ADHD.

Published Date
2014-06-24 11:05:47Z
Last Review Date
2014-05-14 00:00:00Z
Next Review Date
2016-05-14 00:00:00Z
Classification
ADHD,Depression,Epilepsy,Mental health conditions,Obsessive compulsive disorder,Tourette's syndrome






ADHD

Treating ADHD

There is no cure for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), but treatment can help relieve the symptoms and make the condition much less of a problem in day-to-day life.

ADHD can be treated using medication or therapy, but a combination of both is often the best way to treat it.

Treatment will usually be arranged by a specialist, such as a paediatrician or psychiatrist, although your condition may be monitored by your GP. 

Medication

There are four types of medication licensed for the treatment of ADHD:

These medications are not a permanent cure for ADHD, but they can help someone with the condition concentrate better, be less impulsive, feel calmer, and learn and practise new skills.

Some medications need to be taken every day, but some can be taken just on school days. Treatment breaks are occasionally recommended, to assess whether the medication is still needed.

In the UK, all of these medications are licensed for use in children and teenagers. Atomoxetine is also licensed for use in adults who had symptoms of ADHD as children.

If you were not diagnosed with ADHD until adulthood, your GP and specialist can discuss which medications and therapies are suitable for you.

If you or your child is prescribed one of these medications, you will probably be given small doses at first, which may then be gradually increased. You or your child will need to see your GP for regular check-ups, to ensure the treatment is working effectively and to check for signs of any side effects or problems.

Your specialist will discuss how long you should take your treatment but, in many cases, treatment is continued for as long as it is helping.

Methylphenidate

Methylphenidate is the most commonly used medication for ADHD. It belongs to a group of medicines called stimulants that work by increasing activity in the brain, particularly in areas that play a part in controlling attention and behaviour.

Methylphenidate can be used by teenagers and children with ADHD over the age of six. Although methylphenidate is not licensed for use in adults, it may be taken under close supervision from your GP and specialist.

The medication can be taken as either immediate-release tablets (small doses taken two to three times a day), or as modified-release tablets (taken once a day in the morning, and they release the dose throughout the day).

Common side effects of methylphenidate include:

  • a small increase in blood pressure and heart rate
  • loss of appetite, which can lead to weight loss or poor weight gain
  • trouble sleeping
  • headaches
  • stomach aches
  • mood swings

Dexamfetamine

Dexamfetamine is also a stimulant medication that works in a similar way to methylphenidate, by stimulating areas of the brain that play a part in controlling attention and behaviour.

Dexamfetamine can be used by teenagers and children with ADHD over the age of three. Although it is not licensed for use in adults, it may be taken under close supervision from your GP and specialist.

Dexamfetamine is usually taken as a tablet once or twice a day, although an oral solution is also available.

Common side effects of dexamfetamine include:

  • decreased appetite
  • mood swings
  • agitation and aggression
  • dizziness
  • headaches
  • diarrhoea
  • nausea and vomiting

Lisdexamfetamine

Lisdexamfetamine is a similar medication to dexamfetamine, and works in the same way.

It can be used by children with ADHD over the age of six if treatment with methylphenidate hasn’t helped. You may continue to take it into adulthood if your doctor thinks you are benefitting from treatment.

Lisdexamfetamine comes in capsule form, which you or your child usually take once a day.

Common side effects of lisdexamfetamine include:

  • decreased appetite, which can lead to weight loss or poor weight gain
  • aggression
  • drowsiness
  • dizziness
  • headaches
  • diarrhoea
  • nausea and vomiting

Atomoxetine

Atomoxetine works differently to other ADHD medications.

It is known as a selective noradrenaline uptake inhibitor (SNRI), which means it increases the amount of a chemical in the brain called noradrenaline. This chemical passes messages between brain cells, and increasing the amount can aid concentration and help control impulses.

Atomoxetine can be used by teenagers and children over the age of six. It is also licensed for use in adults who are continuing treatment after taking the medication as a teenager. It is not licensed for use in adults newly diagnosed with ADHD, but your GP and specialist may prescribe it under their supervision.

Atomoxetine comes in capsule form, which you or your child usually take once or twice a day.

Common side effects of atomoxetine include:

  • a small increase in blood pressure and heart rate
  • nausea and vomiting
  • stomach aches
  • trouble sleeping
  • dizziness
  • headaches
  • irritability

Atomoxetine has also been linked to some more serious side effects that it’s important to look out for, including suicidal thoughts and liver damage.

If either you or your child begin to feel depressed or suicidal while taking this medication, speak to your doctor.

Therapy

As well as taking medication, different therapies can be useful in treating ADHD in children, teenagers and adults. Therapy is also effective in treating additional problems, such as conduct or anxiety disorders, that may appear with ADHD.

Some of the therapies that may be used are outlined below.

Psychoeducation

Psychoeducation means you or your child will be encouraged to discuss ADHD and how it affects you. It can help children, teenagers and adults make sense of being diagnosed with ADHD, and can help you to cope and live with the condition.

Behaviour therapy

Behaviour therapy provides support for carers of children with ADHD, and may involve teachers as well as parents. Behaviour therapy usually involves behaviour management, which uses a system of rewards to encourage your child to try to control their ADHD.

If your child has ADHD, you can identify types of behaviour you want to encourage, such as sitting at the table to eat. Your child is then given some sort of small reward for good behaviour, and removal of a privilege for poor behaviour. For teachers, behaviour management involves learning how to plan and structure activities, and to praise and encourage children for even very small amounts of progress.

Parent training and education programmes

If your child has ADHD, specially tailored parent training and education programmes can help you learn specific ways of talking to your child, and playing and working with them to improve their attention and behaviour. You may also be offered parent training before your child is formally diagnosed with ADHD.

These programmes are usually arranged in groups and can last several weeks. They aim to teach parents and carers about behaviour management (see above), while increasing your confidence in your ability to help your child, as well as improving your relationship. 

Social skills training

Social skills training involves your child taking part in role play situations, and aims to teach them how to behave in social situations by learning how their behaviour affects others.

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is a talking therapy that can help you manage your problems by changing the way you think and behave. A CBT therapist would try and change how your child feels about a situation, which would in turn potentially change their behaviour.

CBT can be carried out with a therapist individually or in a group.

Other possible treatments

There are other ways of treating ADHD that some people with the condition find helpful, such as cutting out certain foods and taking supplements. However, there is no strong evidence these work, and they should not be attempted without medical advice.

Diet

People with ADHD should eat a healthy, balanced diet. Do not cut out foods without medical advice.

Some people may notice a link between types of food and worsening ADHD symptoms. For example, sugar, food colourings and additives, and caffeine are often blamed for aggravating hyperactivity, and some people believe they have intolerances to wheat or dairy products, which may add to their symptoms.

If this is the case, keep a diary of what you eat and drink, and what behaviour this causes. Discuss this with your GP, who may refer you to a dietitian (a healthcare professional who specialises in nutrition).

Do not change your (or your child’s) diet without medical advice.

Supplements

Some studies have suggested that supplements of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids may be beneficial in people with ADHD, although the evidence supporting this is very limited.

It’s advisable to talk to your GP before using any supplements, because some can react unpredictably with medication or make it less effective.

You should also remember that some supplements should not be taken long term, as they can reach dangerous levels in your body.

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Published Date
2014-06-24 11:34:49Z
Last Review Date
2014-05-14 00:00:00Z
Next Review Date
2016-05-14 00:00:00Z
Classification
ADHD,Anger management,Anxiety-related conditions,Appetite loss,Behavioural changes,Cognitive behavioural therapy,Counselling,Depression,Education,Emotional health development,Getting active,Healthy eating,Liver,Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency,Mental and emotional wellbeing,Mental health conditions,Mental health specialists,Psychological therapy,Psychotherapists,Social workers,Stress management,Teenagers