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Everyone experiences different moods, but a person with bipolar disorder experiences extreme mood swings from manic feelings of elation, high energy and hyperactivity to dark and low moods, lethargy and depression.
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How do I know if I have ADHD? Does my child have ADHD?

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:

  • Trouble multitasking.
  • Excessive activity or restlessness.
  • Poor planning.
  • Hot temper.
  • Trouble coping with stress.

What ADHD is not

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).

At what age do ADHD symptoms appear?

Symptoms usually start before the age of 12 and continue into adulthood.

How long does ADHD last?

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.

How many people have ADHD?

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%.

What causes ADHD?

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:

  • Genetics.
  • Environment.
  • Problems during development.

What are the risk factors for ADHD?

The risk of a person developing ADHD may increase if:

  • Family members suffer from ADHD.
  • During pregnancy the mother smokes, drinks, or uses drugs.
  • A child is premature.

What are the impacts of delayed diagnosis of ADHD?

ADHD has been linked to:

  • Poor school or work performance.
  • Unemployment.
  • Financial problems.
  • Trouble with the police.
  • Alcohol or drug misuse.
  • Unstable relationships.
  • Poor self-esteem.

How is ADHD diagnosed?

Making the diagnosis normally includes:

  • Asking questions about symptoms and family medical history.
  • ADHD tests to measure symptoms.

What are the treatments for ADHD?

ADHD is normally treated through a two-pronged approach:

  • Medication.
  • Therapy.

ADHD medication

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.

Therapy for ADHD

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.

Help and information about ADHD

ADHD (NHS Choices)

NHS Choices provides information about the signs, symptoms and treatment for depression.

ADHD Foundation

For people with an ADHD diagnoses, this charity provides resources and advocacy.

Young Minds

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.

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Am I bipolar?

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.

Am I bipolar, or am I just having ups and downs?

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.

What age do bipolar symptoms start at?

People that are bipolar usually develop symptoms or experience their first “episode” between the ages of 15-25.

How many people have bipolar?

About 2% of the population will have a bipolar episode at least once in their lives. That means that as many as 1.3 million people in the UK will have at least one episode in their lifetime.

What are the causes of bipolar disorder?

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:

  • A family history of bipolar disorder
  • Disruption in the structure and function of key emotional control networks in the brain
  • Been through stressful experiences such as trauma

How is bipolar disorder diagnosed?

Psychiatrists usually diagnose bipolar and can help with medications.

What are the treatments for bipolar disorder?

Medication for bipolar disorder

Mood-stabilising drugs are the main type of medication used to treat the mood swings experienced by people with bipolar.

Psychological therapies for bipolar disorder

Psychologists can be very helpful in helping support people with bipolar in either depressive episodes or between episodes. They can help them:

  • Learn more about their disorder
  • Teach techniques to help monitor mood and thus better recognise when their mood is starting to change
  • Improve on coping skills
  • Provide Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT) and Interpersonal therapy (IPT) for depressive episodes

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.

Other helpful resources for bipolar disorder

Bipolar UK

Bipolar UK helps inform and advocate for people with a bipolar disorder.

Bipolar disorder (NHS)

NHS advice about ways that people with bipolar disorder can manage their condition long-term.