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.
Loneliness is a negative feeling of being alone. Unlike solitude, a positive feeling of being alone, loneliness describes feeling alone, and wishing for something else – like company, connection or companionship.
Loneliness is common for people who are isolated, such as people who are elderly or who don’t have a good support network of family or friends. During the Covid-19 lockdown, many people who live alone will have been through periods of extreme isolation that may have been stressful, painful, or depressing.
Social isolation can affect those who have trouble communicating, such as people with hearing loss or autism. People who struggle to walk, drive or take public transport might also find it harder to get out of the house and meet friends.
People with social anxiety often experience a cycle of isolation and self-isolation in order to manage their anxiety symptoms.
Difficult experiences can isolate people from friends and family. For example people who’ve been through bereavement, chronic illness or significant changes in life might notice that experiences, or the way experiences affect them, affect relationships too.
Likewise, feeling ‘alone’ with a cultural, gender or sexual identity leaves people feeling isolated. It might be that prejudice or fear of prejudice stops a person expressing, sharing and connecting with who they are. Or it might be that a person lacks connection or community with other people who share their identity. People can also experience both types of isolation at once.
It is common to feel lonely after the death of a partner or close friend, or the end of a significant relationship. Talking to a therapist about the experience, and the feelings that follow, can make it easier to make decisions about who else to talk to about it, and how.
Isolation is a common tactic amongst abusers, because isolating someone makes them more dependent on the abuser, easier to control, and more vulnerable.
Loneliness and isolation are not clinical problems, but they are both risk factors for common mental health problems, namely depression and anxiety.
‘Isolation’ is a description of someone who faces a practical challenge to social connection: for example, living alone, hearing loss, autism or social anxiety.
Loneliness is the experience of feeling isolated, whether or not you face specific challenges to connecting with people.
Loneliness is a universal experience that is normal, and not in itself a problem. But when loneliness seems overwhelming or exacerbates existing mental health problems, psychotherapy can help.
Everyone feels lonely at times. In a recent study of adults in England, 45% said they occasionally, sometimes or often felt lonely. During the Covid-19 lockdown in the UK in April 2020, 31% of adults surveyed reported their wellbeing had been affected from loneliness that week.
Because loneliness is so common, many people prefer to find their own way to deal with it.
But when loneliness feels overwhelming or puts mental health at risk, people may decide to ask for help.
Therapy is an ideal place to talk about loneliness because having therapy requires having a working relationship with a therapist. Because this relationship is regular and well-defined, it can be a good place to air out fears about loneliness, identity, self-isolation, rejection and a lack of connection with others.
Part of a therapeutic approach might be to explore things a person can do for themselves to address loneliness. Naturally, a person who feels lonely might think about contacting friends or family, or meeting new people – the therapist might be able to help challenge and support a client to do this. But the therapist might be able to dig a bit deeper into a person’s experience of loneliness and find other ways to explore how they feel. For example, there might be other ways to spend time alone that make loneliness easier to cope with.
Weekly stories show just how universal it is to feel lonely, and the different approaches people take to meet people or make the most of their own company.
Open events help participants meet and spend time with new people who are likeminded, from similar backgrounds, or who share their interests.
This charity for older people researches and tackles the social isolation this group faces.
A phoneline pairs up older people who experience loneliness or isolation.
A voluntary organisation helps connect people who want to reduce social isolation in their area.