Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental condition characterized by a cluster of signs and symptoms originating from childhood. Individuals with ADHD exhibit hyperactive, impulsive, and inattentive behaviours that persist in various environments, including educational institutions or work settings.
Symptoms of ADHD ADHD manifests through various symptoms that can significantly impact day-to-day life. Some practical examples of these symptoms include difficulty in organizing tasks or activities, easy distractibility, underachievement, relationship difficulties, restlessness, interrupting others, and impulsive decision-making. It is important to note that there may be overlapping symptoms between ADHD and other mental health conditions. Therefore, accurate diagnosis requires evaluation by medical professionals.
Causes of ADHD The exact cause of ADHD has yet to be pinpointed definitively. Current studies suggest that ADHD has multifactorial causes. Some possible factors that may increase predisposition to ADHD include genetic factors, maternal alcohol use or smoking during pregnancy, low birth weight and preterm delivery, and epilepsy.
Differentiating ADHD, ADD, and ASD The term ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) is considered outdated and now falls under the umbrella of ADHD. Some individuals may not exhibit hyperactive symptoms but still have ADHD. In contrast, Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental condition characterized by difficulties in communication and interactions with the outside world. Symptoms of ASD are typically noticeable before the age of 3 years and often include repetitive behaviours and sensory anomalies.
Diagnosing ADHD Diagnosis of ADHD is typically conducted by a psychiatrist and may involve a comprehensive assessment lasting 2-3 hours. Patients can be referred through their General Practitioner (GP) and may be asked to complete a self-assessment questionnaire called the ADHD Self Report Scale (for adults). Additionally, reports commenting on concentration, communication, and concerns from schools or workplaces can provide valuable information for the evaluation. If ADHD is suspected, an onward referral to a psychiatrist for assessment can be made.
Managing ADHD The management of ADHD varies on a case-by-case basis. In some cases, conservative measures may be sufficient, including self-help resources, behaviour management techniques for children, support groups, and Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy (CBT). Medication may be beneficial in certain cases and is typically initiated by psychiatrists. The most common medications for ADHD are stimulants such as Lisdexamfetamine or Methylphenidate. It is important to note that these medications are potent and may have side effects, requiring monitoring, including heart checks, for safe prescribing.
Support and Resources At Marpe Wellbeing, we understand the concerns surrounding ADHD. If you suspect you may have ADHD, we encourage you to book a GP appointment to discuss your concerns. To help reduce costs, we recommend starting with a pre-screening consultation with one of our GPs, who will provide you with a recommended medical opinion. If you decide to proceed with a psychiatry assessment, we can schedule a remote video consultation with one of our psychiatrists, which typically lasts between 1.5 and 3 hours. Our goal is to provide you with an accurate and unbiased diagnosis that reflects your symptoms.
Turning ADHD into a Positive It's important to note that many individuals with ADHD have achieved successful careers despite their condition. Although issues such as hyperfocus, distractions, and active listening may be perceived as challenges, some individuals have learned to leverage these aspects to their advantage.
Royal College of Psychiatrists National Institute for Health & Care Excellence GP Notebook