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.
This huge group of diseases includes rheumatoid arthritis , lupus, type 1 diabetes and psoriasis. For many of these diseases, the symptoms can be managed, but almost all are chronic conditions.
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), Crohn's and colitis are painful, isolating chronic conditions that affect thousands of people. People with chronic gut problems may worry about how the disease affects their ability to live normally, and in some cases the condition might have already hospitalised them or put their life at risk.
Fibromyalgia, chronic neck or back pain is isolating and restrictive. Pain and depression are closely correlated, and the risk of developing depression increases with pain symptoms.
A cancer diagnosis can be devastating, whatever stage a person is diagnosed at and whatever the prognosis. For many people, it will be the first life-threatening diagnosis they ever face, and will raise a host of feelings and thoughts – some of which will be hard to voice. Experts have also remarked on an increase in the risk of depression after successful treatment of cancer.
Some therapists specialise in working with cancer patients (and some of those chose to specialise after surviving cancer themselves).
This painful gynaecological condition was for years misdiagnosed as psychosomatic, or as a mental health problem. It is where tissue similar to the lining of the womb grows in other places, such as the ovaries. It is estimated that 1 in 10 women or people who were assigned female at birth have endometriosis. Treatment can be aggressive, but leaving a person to suffer without a diagnosis can be equally brutal.
MS is a degenerative autoimmune disease without a cure, and a diagnosis is life-changing. It is difficult to know how to cope with news of the condition, and it may be hard to share with loved ones.
This chronic gynaecological condition affects fertility but often affects the way a person feels and looks. It can put pressure on relationships and marriages if one or both people in a couple is worried about difficulty getting pregnant. For women who aren’t ready to have children, it can create anxiety about the timeframe in which to decide and act quickly on what kind of family they want. Women with PCOS are at higher risk of depression and anxiety.
People with chronic health problems are at greater risk of developing mental health problems such as depression and anxiety. Some chronic health conditions can trigger anxiety disorders such as phobias or PTSD, particularly if a person has had a traumatic hospital stay or procedure.
It would be unusual not to feel low or worried about a chronic health diagnosis, but if signs of depression or anxiety persist then a person might ask for extra support to cope with their mental health.
Language around ‘survivorship’ and ‘fighting’ a chronic condition can create unnecessary pressure on people with chronic health diagnoses and their families. Doctors might expect patients to ‘rise above’ their feelings about diagnoses, updates, prognosis, procedures and treatment. Therapists help people with chronic conditions use their own language and perspective to describe their experience.
People with chronic health conditions also suffer from mental health problems. Risk of developing depression and anxiety varies according to chronic health diagnosis:
Psychotherapy is an ideal place to get help and support, and to share the experience of living with a chronic health diagnosis. Some therapists specialise in working with people who have a chronic health diagnosis.
Some people with depression related to their chronic illness respond well to taking antidepressants. They can take medication by itself, or combine it with therapy.
There is growing evidence that there are some behavioural interventions that support the treatment of mild depression in people with chronic health conditions. Exercise, sleep, stress management and social interaction are all recommended during treatment or to manage symptoms.