Many people with ADHD aren't aware they have it. They will be aware however that everyday tasks seem more difficult for them than for others. Typical symptoms are finding it hard to focus, missing deadlines and trouble controlling impulses, ranging from impatience to mood swings and outbursts of anger. Other symptoms include:
The above list may be familiar to most people at different times in their lives. If these symptoms occur only occasionally, they probably don't have ADHD. A doctor usually diagnoses when someone’s symptoms cause problems that stop a person working, finding stable housing, or living normally and safely.
Diagnosis of ADHD in adults is often trickier because the same symptoms also occur in mental health conditions, such as anxiety or mood disorders. Many adults with ADHD also have at least one other mental health condition (depression and anxiety are the most common).
Symptoms usually start before the age of 12 and continue into adulthood.
ADHD is a lifelong condition, though it often becomes less marked in adulthood. But it can be effectively managed. The first step is to see a doctor and start seeking a diagnosis.
In the UK, the incidence of ADHD in school-aged children is thought to be between 3 and 5%. In adults it is between 3 and 4%.
We still don’t know for sure. An enormous amount of research is focused on finding the causes of ADHD. Factors that may be involved include:
The risk of a person developing ADHD may increase if:
ADHD has been linked to:
Making the diagnosis normally includes:
ADHD is normally treated through a two-pronged approach:
Doctors might prescribe stimulants for ADHD – which might seem counterintuitive, but has a strong evidence basis for regulating brain activity.
Some ADHD patients might also benefit from antidepressants or other medication, but in every case a doctor is best placed to advise on what to take.
Psychotherapy is indicated for people with ADHD but behavioural therapies can also help manage traits that make people with ADHD disorganised, and teach useful skills as well.
NHS Choices provides information about the signs, symptoms and treatment for depression.
For people with an ADHD diagnoses, this charity provides resources and advocacy.
Aimed at young people, this profile of ADHD explains what it is, how to seek treatment and mental health concerns for people with ADHD in a clear and straightforward way.
People suffering from bipolar disorder have fluctuating mood states that last weeks or even months. They may well experience long periods of depression, or indeed times when they are extremely happy or become very overactive. They may also develop delusional ideas about themselves and their strengths.
It is not the usual emotional ups and downs that most of us experience. Instead, the mood swings experienced by people with bipolar disorder usually last several weeks or months and are far more extreme than those lived by the majority of the population.
People that are bipolar usually develop symptoms or experience their first “episode” between the ages of 15-25.
Unfortunately, no clear cause has been identified.
Research into this area suggests that people are more at risk from developing bipolar disorder if a person has:
Psychiatrists usually diagnose bipolar and can help with medications.
Mood-stabilising drugs are the main type of medication used to treat the mood swings experienced by people with bipolar.
Psychologists can be very helpful in helping support people with bipolar in either depressive episodes or between episodes. They can help them:
If you feel you may be suffering from bipolar disorder, speak to one of our psychiatrists, psychologists or psychotherapists and they will help get you the support you need.
Bipolar UK helps inform and advocate for people with a bipolar disorder.
NHS advice about ways that people with bipolar disorder can manage their condition long-term.