Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and Attention Deficit Disorder Treatment

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Over 1.5 million people in the UK are currently living with a behavioural disorder. The characteristics of which include hyperactivity, inattentiveness,  and impulsiveness.

The two most common behavioural disorders are attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and attention deficit disorder (ADD.)

Treatment for both of these hyperactivity disorders (ADHD) works by alleviating the symptoms and diminishing the effects of their behavioural condition on everyday life.

ADHD can be treated using medication or therapy, but a combination of both is often best. Treatment is usually arranged by a specialist, such as a pediatrician or a psychiatrist, although the condition may be monitored by your GP.

What is ADHD?

ADHD stands for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. It is a mental health disorder that includes symptoms including a lack of focus, a need to move more often than most (hyperactivity,) and impulsive behavior.

Usually, the disorders develop in children but then continue into adulthood, though sometimes it can look different. Children often suffer more with hyperactivity, whereas adults suffer from restlessness and impulsiveness.

What is ADD?

ADD stands for attention deficit disorder. People with ADD usually struggle to concentrate. It usually develops in children, but can take some time to diagnose because lots of kids struggle to concentrate sometimes without having the disorder.

Sometimes children with the disorder can feel demoralized or feel like something is wrong with them so they may become anxious, depressed, and/or start to self-harm.

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What Is The Difference Between ADD and ADHD?

ADD and ADHD are two highly related disorders, and therefore can often be mixed up. Both are categorized as attention deficit disorders, so people with either disorder will struggle to concentrate.

The difference between ADD and ADHD is namely the hyperactivity that comes along with the latter. People with ADHD tend to have lots of energy – sometimes nervous energy – and are very talkative and are fidgety.

Technically speaking, ADD is no longer a diagnosis in the DSM (the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.) Any person with an attention deficit disorder is officially considered to have ADHD, but the term ADD is still used by many people.

ADD would technically be in the DSM-V as Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, predominantly meaning ‘inattentive type.’

What Causes ADD and ADHD?

1. Genetics

Studies have shown that there is a correlation between genetics and ADD/ADHD. They have not narrowed the disorder down to a specific gene, or even a series of specific genes, but they believe it is probably a very complex alteration.

Because it is considered to be a genetic disorder when someone has siblings or parents with the disorder, they are at significantly greater risk for developing the disorder themselves.

2. Brain Function/Structure

It is believed that there are differences in the actual brain structure of those with ADHD/ADD versus those without, though various researches disagree on what those differences are.

There may be parts of their brains that are smaller and parts of their brains that are larger. It could also be variations in neurotransmitter levels or functions that causes ADHD.

3. At-Risk Patients

There are a few factors that do not necessarily cause ADHD or ADD, but people with those factors are considered to be at substantially more risk. For example, those who were born prematurely, have epilepsy, or who have brain damage are more at risk for the disorder.

Signs and Symptoms of ADHD In Various Groups

At present, around 5% of children in the UK suffer from an attention deficit disorder, whereas only around 2% of adults exhibit symptoms in later life. Each person’s experience is different when dealing with ADHD or ADD.

There are, however, some common signs and symptoms among adults and children living with ADHD, and those who suffer from ADD in general, which can be useful to look out for. These symptoms include:

  1. Hyperactivity. Hyperactivity can appear in several different ways, depending on a person's age and specific disorder. A child or teen who deals with hyperactivity may be unable to sit still, fidget constantly, move excessively, talk excessively, display an inability to concentrate, or behave impulsively
  2. Inattentiveness. Inattentiveness is when some displays a lack of ability to pay attention for an extended period of time. A child or teen dealing with inattentiveness may be easily distracted when they make careless mistakes when they forget or lose things often when they do not listen to or complete specific instructions, when they are constantly moving from task to task, or are extremely unorganized/bad at time management

ADHD often appears differently in adults than it does with children and teens. Adults may display a lack of attention to detail or constantly move from one task to another without finishing any. They may have poor organizational skills or find it extremely hard to prioritize.

Adults with ADHD also tend to forget and misplay things. Just like in children, adults with ADHD may talk or fidget excessively. The symptoms that adults display that children generally do not are mood swings, irritability, and impatience.

Adults may also seem more impulsive because there are no measures put in place to stop them.

The main or core symptoms of ADD include when someone has a short attention span, is easily distracted, has problems remaining organized, consistently procrastinates, is persistently forgetful, and has poor impulse control.

Beyond those core symptoms, someone with ADD may tend to lose items, even important ones, make careless errors, complain about boredom a lot, or they may seem "spacey" or not completely "in the moment."

Do I Have ADHD?

Here are some major signs that someone with ADHD might experience:

  1. If people often say that you are forgetful
  2. If people consistently complain that you do not listen to them
  3. If you notice that you are often late or people complain about your regular tardiness
  4. If you consistently leave projects or tasks unfinished
  5. If you find you are unable to concentrate on a regular basis
  6. If you cannot control impulsive behaviors
  7. If you cannot get yourself organized
  8. If you are extremely fidgety
  9. If you feel as if you are unable to control your emotions

How is ADD and ADHD Diagnosed?

Generally, ADD and ADHD are diagnosed by a therapist or other professional in either the psychology or medical field. The person may receive a diagnosis through observation, or they may be asked to fill out a questionnaire.

Sometimes, close friends and family will also be asked to fill out a questionnaire. The questionnaires could include questions about the patient’s symptoms/behaviors, when the symptoms started, where they occur, how they affect the patient’s life, how they were as a child, what the family history was, and about any impulsive behaviours.

Sometimes the patient will be diagnosed by questionnaire or observation alone, but other times the doctor may request a combination of both. If the patient’s behavior or answers line up with enough of the diagnostic criteria, they will be diagnosed.

Treatment for ADD and ADHD

  1. CBT: CBT stands for cognitive behavioral therapy and is a type of talk therapy that focuses on changing thought patterns and behaviors with small goals. It can be done in inpatient or outpatient therapy and individually or with a group
  2. Psychoeducation: Psychoeducation is an important part of almost everyone’s treatment, no matter what other kinds of treatment they are receiving. The goal of psychoeducation is to educate a client on what their disorder is and the various symptoms or effects a person may experience due to the disorder
  3. Behavioral Therapy: Behavioral therapy is generally done with the patient and their parents (if they are a child.) The goal of behavioral therapy is to address and find solutions for certain problematic behaviors that come along with ADD or ADHD
  4. Parent Training: Parent training is designed to better equip parents with the tools and knowledge they need to parent a child with ADD or ADHD. Generally, this kind of therapy is done in a group setting of multiple different children’s parents
  5. Social Skills Training: Usually, this kind of therapy involves role-playing to help a patient learn how to behave in certain social situations

Diet and ADHD

Sometimes when people are on medication to treat ADHD or ADD, they may experience a lack of appetite. When this happens, they could start to miss out on needed vitamins, nutrients, and caloric intake.

In order to counteract this, a person may want to try snacking instead of meals or two healthy meals a day instead of three. If it becomes a major problem, a patient’s diet or lack thereof is certainly something to discuss with your doctor who will be able to guide you with advice or the help of a nutritionist.

Medications for ADD and ADHD

The five main types of medications that help treat (not cure) ADHD and ADD are:

  1. Methylphenidate
  2. Dexamfetamine
  3. Lisdexamfetamine
  4. Atomoxetine
  5. Guanfacine

These medications are all available on prescription and the administration of which will be discussed by your doctor. Although there is no cure for ADD or ADHD, patients who have used prescribed medication to help alleviate their behavioural symptoms have noted the benefits, and say their quality of life has vastly improved.

Living With ADD or ADHD

Below you can read some tips on how to cope/live with ADD or ADHD:

  1. Plan the day: Having routines and knowing what to expects helps someone with ADD or ADHD better cope with life
  2. Be positive: Try not to beat yourself up about what you do, even when you make a mistake. Additionally, make sure you celebrate even the small victories
  3. Ask for clear instructions: It is okay to tell someone that you need direct and clear instructions on what they are expecting from you
  4. Treat yourself or your child: Set up rewards for yourself (or, if you are a parent, your child) to celebrate and encourage successes
  5. Exercise: Exercise is a great way to cope with excess energy and help improve your focus
  6. Sleep: People with ADHD or ADD commonly have sleep problems, but try to figure out a routine that works for you because when you are not sleeping well, your ADHD will worsen

Helping Someone With ADD or ADHD

Here are some tips on how you can better connect and help someone in your life who is living with ADHD or ADD:

  1. Study up on the disorder. The more you know about the disorder, the more understanding all parties can have for each other.
  2. Acknowledge the impact: Be upfront and honest about how it affects you as no one grows from hiding it but do so in a kind and compassionate way.
  3. Remember that they are not their disorder: If you want to talk to your partner about how a behavior affected you, make sure you do not treat them as if they are their symptoms.

Tips for Parents of Children with ADHD

It can be hard to figure out how to effectively parent a child with ADHD. Here are some of the most important tips. These things can be helpful to all children, but they are critical to children with ADD/ADHD:

  1. Provide clear and consistent expectations. They need to know exactly what the expectations are if they are ever going to meet them
  2. Set up a discipline system with rewards, good behavior, and corrects (not shames) poor choices
  3. Help them develop organizational systems for their belongings and their schedule
  4. Your child will function best on a regulated routine/schedule

Myths About Attention Deficit Disorders

Although extensive medical research has been conducted around ADD and ADHD, there are still some gaps in science, and especially in common misbeliefs about the condition.

Here are some common misconceptions about ADHD that people living with the condition often hear:

  1. ADHD is a lack of willpower
  2. Those with ADHD can never pay attention to anything
  3. Everyone deals with ADHD symptoms, but smart people can get over it
  4. People with ADHD cannot also have other mental health disorders
  5. Only children can be diagnosed with ADHD

Related Conditions

ADHD and ADD often go hand-in-hand with other cognitive or mental disorders. These issues can include:

  • Anxiety disorder
  • Oppositional Defiant Disorder
  • Conduct Disorder
  • Depression
  • Sleep Problems
  • Autistic Spectrum Disorder
  • Tourette’s Syndrome
  • Epilepsy
  • Learn Disorders

If you or a loved one is struggling with ADHD or ADD, it is crucial that you seek the help and support you deserve.

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Call now on 0800 088 66 86 for confidential and immediate advice if you or someone you love is struggling with ADHD or ADD.

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