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Suicidal thoughts

When life gets very hard, painful emotions can feel prolonged and overwhelming. A person may fantasise or talk about wishing it was over, or perhaps that they didn't wake up. This does not necessarily mean they intend to end their life, but it should be taken seriously.
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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

Suicidal thoughts

What are suicidal thoughts?

Different people have different thought processes around suicide. Sometimes people report that these feelings build during a difficult period in life. At other times, suicidal thoughts and feelings come and go. It is important to know, however, that these feelings are not uncommon.

It is also important to note that evidence shows that talking about suicide does not make a person more likely to end their own life. Nor does it mean that a person is not serious, or ‘attention-seeking’.

At what age do suicidal thoughts start?

These thoughts do not normally occur in children though they become more common in teenagers.

Suicidal thoughts and feelings can also appear in adulthood. There may be a ‘trigger’ event, or there may not.

How long do suicidal thoughts last?

Everyone’s experiences are different. Whilst it is possible to feel that one will never be happy, with support and understanding most people who have felt suicidal go on to live long and fruitful lives.

The important thing is to let someone know and to begin the process of talking to someone about the feelings.

How many people have suicidal thoughts?

Many people have suicidal thoughts at some point in their lives. Much fewer people act on these thoughts.

What causes suicidal thoughts?

Suicidal feelings can affect anyone, of any age, gender or background, at any time.

Some people can point to a particular event that made them contemplate suicide. For others, they may have been feeling increasingly hopeless and worthless for some time as the result of a combination of factors.

What are the risk factors for suicidal thoughts?

There are too many to list, but stress, depression and other mental health problems are typical.

What treatment and support is available for people who are having suicidal thoughts?

The two main approaches to help people with suicidal thoughts are talk therapy and medication.

Therapy for suicidal thoughts

For talk therapy, contact one of our experts. ProblemShared therapists are skilled and experienced at providing support to people who are coping with suicidal thoughts and feelings, no matter what the client’s age or circumstances.

Medication to manage suicidal thoughts

Medicines do not specifically treat suicidal thoughts but can help with the underlying issues a person may be suffering from, which lead to thoughts of suicide. A GP will discuss these medications with you. It is important to remember that sometimes the medicines themselves, whether they be antidepressants, antipsychotics or mood stabilisers, can have the side effect of making suicidal thoughts stronger in the short term.

In case of emergency

If you or someone you know is at immediate risk of harm, please call 999.

Other resources about suicide prevention


Papyrus is a charity that aims to reduce death by suicide amongst young people. It provides advice for parents, young people and people who look after young people who are at high risk or have threatened to end their own lives.

The Mix

This charity provides a free 24-hour text service for young people in crisis, including those coping with suicidal thoughts and feelings. To contact the service, text THEMIX to 85258.


For people in distress or despair, especially for people experiencing suicidal thoughts, Samaritans is open 24 hours a day by phone (116 123) and email (