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Understanding ADHD; Symptoms, Testing, Diagnosis and ADHD treatment

Updated: Oct 17, 2023

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects both children and adults. It is characterized by difficulty paying attention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. However, it is important to note that ADHD is not just a childhood disorder, as adhd symptoms can also persist into adulthood.

In this article, we will explore the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for ADHD, as well as the importance of getting tested for ADHD.


girl with adhd


What Causes ADHD?


The exact cause of ADHD is still unknown, but research suggests that it is a combination of genetic, environmental, and developmental factors. Studies have shown that children with ADHD often have a family history of the disorder, indicating a genetic component. Environmental factors such as exposure to toxins during pregnancy or early childhood may also play a role in the development of ADHD.

Additionally, brain imaging studies have shown that individuals with ADHD have differences in the structure and function of certain brain areas involved in attention and impulse control. These differences may be due to abnormal levels of neurotransmitters, the chemicals that carry messages between brain cells.


What Are the Symptoms of ADHD?


The symptoms of ADHD can vary from person to person, but they generally fall into three categories: inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. These symptoms can significantly impact a person's daily life, including their relationships, school or work performance, and overall well-being.


Inattention

Inattention is the most common symptom of ADHD. It is characterized by difficulty focusing, forgetfulness, and disorganization. People with ADHD may have trouble following through on tasks, paying attention to details, and staying organized. They may also struggle with time management and have a tendency to lose things frequently.


Hyperactivity

Hyperactivity is another common symptom of ADHD, especially in children. It is characterized by excessive movement and restlessness. Children with ADHD may have difficulty sitting still, constantly fidget, and have trouble playing quietly. They may also talk excessively and have difficulty waiting their turn.


Impulsivity

Impulsivity is the third category of symptoms associated with ADHD. It is characterized by acting without thinking and difficulty controlling impulses. People with ADHD may have trouble waiting their turn, interrupt others frequently, and have difficulty controlling their emotions. They may also engage in risky behaviors without considering the consequences.


How Is ADHD Diagnosed?

ADHD is typically diagnosed by a healthcare professional, such as a pediatrician, psychiatrist, or psychologist. The diagnosis process involves a comprehensive evaluation, including a physical exam, medical history, and assessment of symptoms.


Physical Exam

During a physical exam, the healthcare professional will check for any underlying medical conditions that may be causing the symptoms. They may also perform a neurological exam to assess motor skills, reflexes, and coordination.


Medical History

A medical history will be taken to gather information about the individual's symptoms, family history, and any other relevant information. This may include information about the individual's behaviour, school or work performance, and relationships.


adhd medication

Assessment of Symptoms

The assessment of symptoms is a crucial part of the diagnosis process. The healthcare professional will use standardized rating scales and questionnaires to assess the individual's symptoms and determine if they meet the criteria for an ADHD diagnosis. These assessments may also involve input from parents, teachers, or other caregivers. There are many ADHD resources within our online membership; SEN Buddy, which will help you to find out if you are likely to meet the threshold for a diagnosis. You will also get access to ADHD planners and you can access adhd resources. You can get a trial of our membership for 30 days for just £1!


Why Is Getting Tested for ADHD Important?

Getting tested for ADHD is essential for several reasons. Firstly, a proper diagnosis can help individuals and their families understand their symptoms and provide them with the necessary support and resources. It can also help individuals receive better adhd awareness, appropriate treatment, which can significantly improve their quality of life.

Moreover, getting tested for ADHD can also help rule out other conditions that may have similar symptoms, such as anxiety, depression, or learning disabilities. This can prevent misdiagnosis and ensure that individuals receive the most effective treatment for their specific needs.


Treatment Options for ADHD

There is no cure for ADHD, but there are several adhd treatment options available that can help manage symptoms and improve daily functioning of the adhd brain. These treatment options may include medication, therapy, and lifestyle changes.


Medication

Medication is often the first line of treatment for ADHD. Stimulant medications, such as Ritalin and Adderall, are commonly prescribed to help improve focus and reduce hyperactivity and impulsivity. Non-stimulant medications, such as Strattera, may also be prescribed for individuals who do not respond well to stimulants or have certain medical conditions that prevent them from taking stimulants.


Therapy

Therapy can also be an effective treatment for ADHD. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a type of therapy that focuses on changing negative thought patterns and behaviors. It can help individuals with ADHD learn coping strategies and develop skills to manage their symptoms. Family therapy may also be beneficial, as it can help improve communication and relationships within the family.


Lifestyle Changes



non binary individual with adhd

In addition to medication and therapy, making lifestyle changes can also help manage symptoms of ADHD. These changes may include creating a structured routine, setting realistic goals, and practicing relaxation techniques. Regular exercise and a healthy diet can also help improve symptoms of ADHD.

Conclusion

ADHD is a complex disorder that can significantly impact an individual's daily life. It is important to understand the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for ADHD to provide individuals with the necessary support and resources. If you or a loved one is experiencing symptoms of ADHD, it is crucial to seek a professional diagnosis and explore treatment options to improve overall well-being and quality of life. ADHD medication can be life changing, but it must be navigated carefully and monitored closely.


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