Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a condition that many people will have heard of but might not know too much about. ADHD is a disorder which affects people’s behaviour and concentration. Most people are diagnosed with ADHD when they are younger, most likely due to the fact that symptoms are more pronounced in children and teens than in adults. There is also a lack of research into how ADHD affects adults, but there has been a recent push for better support and understanding of this.
Approximately 2%-5% of school-age children and 3%-4% of adults have ADHD. It is estimated that 60% of children with ADHD will continue to display symptoms well into adulthood. Most people will be diagnosed with the condition between the ages of 6-12, however many people remain either misdiagnosed or completely undiagnosed.
The symptoms of ADHD can be split into two types of behavioural categories. The first is inattentiveness, and the second is hyperactivity and impulsiveness. Most people with ADHD will show symptoms in both categories, but this isn’t always the case. Some people who struggle with inattentiveness but not with hyperactivity or impulsivity have another form of ADHD known as Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). However, ADD is less likely to be diagnosed as the symptoms can be less obvious.
Some common signs inattentiveness of children with ADHD are:
- Having a short attention span and being easily distracted
- Making mistakes, such as with schoolwork
- Seeming forgetful or losing things
- Being unable to work on repetitive or time-consuming tasks
- Difficulty focusing on tasks for long periods of time and changing tasks frequently
- Having difficulty organising themselves or their tasks
Some common signs of hyperactivity and impulsiveness in children with ADHD are:
- Being unable to sit still, or fidgeting, especially in calm or quiet places
- Finding it difficult to concentrate on tasks
- Talking a lot
- Finding it hard to wait their turn
- Acting without thinking about the consequences
- Little awareness or sense of danger
These symptoms can cause big problems in a child’s life, including underachievement at school, problems with discipline, and difficulty socialising with others. These symptoms can also lead to people quickly labelling those with ADHD as ‘naughty’, ‘lazy’, or too energetic. If someone with ADHD doesn’t get the right support, or remain undiagnosed, it can cause stress and trigger other mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety.
Some of these symptoms can continue or change as people age. Some specialists say the way in which inattentiveness, hyperactivity and impulsiveness affect adults can be very different from the way they affect children. For instance, hyperactivity tends to reduce in adults, while inattentiveness can increase. Overall, approximately 15% of people diagnosed with ADHD in childhood still have a full range of symptoms well into adulthood, while 65% report having only some symptoms.
Symptoms of ADHD in adults can also be more subtle, making it harder to diagnose later in life. However, it’s never too late to be diagnosed with ADHD so please don’t let this stop you from seeking help or talking to your GP. They can help you find the necessary support and therapy and will help you to better understand ADHD.
Some common symptoms of ADHD in adults include:
- Difficulty paying of attention to detail
- Continually starting new tasks before finishing old ones
- Difficulty organising things
- Finding it hard to focus or prioritise
- Continually losing or misplacing things
- Restlessness or feeling “on the edge”
- Difficulty keeping quiet
- Speaking out of turn
- Mood swings, irritability, and a quick temper
- Difficulty dealing with stress
- Finding it hard to be patient
- Taking risks in activities without worry of personal safety or the safety of others
As with children, sadly people are quick to judge adults displaying these symptoms as being “disorganised” or “reckless”–which is simply not the case. It can be harder for grownups with ADHD due to the lack of research into how ADHD affects adults, and an overall lack of representation. Misconceptions regarding adults with ADHD can be harmful and contribute to poor mental health. It can also lead to other conditions, such as depression and anxiety because of a lack of support or understanding as with younger people.
ADHD is a very misunderstood disorder that affects tens of thousands of people in the UK, whether diagnosed or undiagnosed. If you are someone with ADHD, think you might have ADHD or support someone who has ADHD and you’d like further information and help, please check out the links below for some great organisations.