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.
Bullying is a common concern in schools, youth groups and young friendships, and now on social media platforms. Use of anonymity makes it harder to hold bullies to account, expose them and stop the cycle of abuse. While the law catches up, therapists are helping deal with the fall-out from the stalking, harassment and disruption to education that cyberbullying causes.
As children learn about friendships, relationships, and their own identity, they can be vulnerable to mistakes – the mistakes of others, and their own. But bullying is a separate distinct behaviour that has little to do with friendship or self-expression. Child therapists are experts in working with children who have been bullied at school, and talking about what happened can help children return to education and friendships with a sense of validation about what happened.
Bullying persists in adulthood, and power imbalances at work can make a fertile environment for abusers to exploit the people around them. Academia, law, medicine, and education all face systemic problems of bullying, but no industry is immune. Therapists are well-placed to talk about bullying at work, whether in the past or ongoing, and can help people find the strength to better respond to the abuse they face.
The definition of bullying is harm, intimidation or coercion of someone who appears vulnerable. Bullying is often repeated over a period of time, and the bully usually relies on a power imbalance (whether real or imaginary) to keep exploiting a person’s vulnerability.
Bullying has traditionally been treated as a slippery or subtle subject, but often this approach is simply an attempt to ignore or accept a dynamic that exploits others.
Even if you decide your situation does not amount to bullying, to question it suggests that there is something painful, difficult or stressful happening. Talking to a therapist can help you confirm whether or not your situation classes as bullying, and if not, what else might be happening.
Bullying can resolve of its own accord, but in other cases it can last for months or years.
People who have been bullied in the past sometimes report that bullying seems to ‘follow’ them or that they feel people can ‘see’ their vulnerability. Therapy can help a person explore memories of bullying, and question why it might feel easier to blame themselves for what other people did or didn’t do to prevent what happened.
A study in 2019 found that a fifth of under-21s in the UK had been a victim of bullying within the previous year. Research in 2015 found that nearly a third of adults had experienced workplace bullying.
Bullying flourishes in environments where a person is free to target somebody. This might be because the bullying occurs in private (for example, only during one-to-one meetings at work, or in a private online space) or because people who witness the bullying fail to act.
Failure to act might be down to:
Bullying is never caused by the person being bullied.
Bullying is not a mental health problem in itself, although it can increase a person’s risk of depression of anxiety. But many people find that therapy breaks through the isolation of being bullied, and can help people recover their confidence after bullying. Therapy might also support someone who wants to take formal action against a bully, school or workplace.
A phoneline for adults and children provides support and practical advice about bullying at school and work.