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Physical symptoms such as clenched jaw, headaches, shortness of breath, feeling hyper-alert, and poor quality sleep, can all be signs of stress. Stress is a response to a real or perceived threat; the body’s automatic reaction to prepare for 'fight' or ‘flight.’ When stress becomes too much, it impacts one’s ability to function and can become self-perpetuating. Talking through issues can help manage these responses.
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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.

Click here to see practitioners who specialise in


What is stress?

It is important to remember that feeling stressed is a normal response when things get busy.

The Stress Management Society explains that stress manifests in four main ways:

  • Thinking. Stress affects our concentration, decision-making skills and confidence, and can also cause a mental cloudiness people call ‘brain fog’.
  • Feelings. Stress can make us panicky, irritable, and depressed.
  • Actions. People who are stressed might have trouble sleeping or getting up, socialising, completing tasks, losing their sense of humour and needing something like drinking or smoking to relax.
  • Physical. Under stress, people often report anxiety symptoms like chest pain, racing heart and higher blood pressure, as well as tension (such as clenched jaw or teeth-grinding at night), more minor illnesses (e.g. frequent colds), or irritable skin or digestion.

When should you seek help for stress?

Many people manage stress by using techniques that work for them, including talking to friends, doing exercise or meditating. However, if stress becomes all-consuming and affects a person’s ability to function either at work or within relationships, they may need to seek help and talk to a therapist or a doctor.

Stress symptoms that might prompt someone to seek help include:

  • Stopping looking after themselves
  • Increasing time off work
  • Avoiding doing things they need to do, either for themselves or their families
  • Having thoughts of harming themselves
  • Using drugs or alcohol to cope
  • Struggling with panic or anxiety attacks

What therapy is best for stress?

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for stress

This structured type of counselling teaches specific skills to manage behaviour and change negative thinking patterns into positive ones.

Other types of therapy are also useful and can help people better manage their responses to situations. See our resource about different types of therapy to better understand the many different approaches.  

Other helpful  resources related to stress

Stress Management Society

This organisation has a test for stress, and practical tips on coping with stressful periods.

Anxiety UK

The UK’s leading charity for anxiety has good advice on coping with panic attacks, and a helpline for people who need support to cope with stress and anxiety.