Dr Raiz ISMAIL MBBS DPM FRANZCP
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a mental health condition.In people with ADHD, there are differences in the parts of the brain that control our ability to plan, organise and focus.Symptoms start in childhood. About half of children with ADHD continue to have problems into adulthood. Sometimes ADHD is missed in childhood and only gets noticed later in life.The main features of ADHD are:
A recent study found that up to 3% of Australian adults have ADHD. This is likely to be the same across different countries.Having ADHD can make family life, study, work and friendships difficult.There are effective treatments available for ADHD. You should seek help if you are worried about yourself or someone close to you.
ADHD is known to run in families.The exact causes of ADHD are unknown, but there are factors that are thought to contribute:
Inattention (problems with paying attention) and hyperactivity (being unusually active) and impulsivity are the key symptoms of ADHD.Examples of inattention symptoms are:
Some people with ADHD can concentrate when they really enjoy something, but lose track when they get bored.
I’d describe having ADHD as having 1000 browser tabs open in my mind at the same time. Everything is as important as everything else.
Cass, BrisbanePeople with symptoms of hyperactivity may:
Some people with ADHD may have symptoms of impulsivity.They might:
You don’t need to have all these symptoms to be diagnosed with ADHD.Often, people with ADHD feel quite frustrated and can become anxious or depressed at not being able to achieve their full potential. Sleep problems and relationship issues can be the reason that people initially seek treatment.If symptoms are affecting your daily life, work or relationships you should seek help.
As a first step, see your GP (family doctor).A GP can assess your symptoms and write you a referral to see a psychiatrist or clinical psychologist if you need it.First steps to get help
A diagnosis of ADHD in an adult is usually made by a psychiatrist who is experienced in the field.Diagnosis might involve:
Generally, adults are only diagnosed with ADHD if there is evidence that they had symptoms as a child.Symptoms also have to be present in more than one situation (for example at work and at home) and affect daily life.
Recommended treatment for adults with ADHD involves:
Stimulant medication is known to help people with ADHD to focus and complete tasks. Medication is used to support other changes to your lifestyle and behaviour.The two main stimulant medications used for ADHD are methylphenidate and dexamphetamine. These medications can be addictive, but in the doses used to treat ADHD they usually aren’t.If you are unable to use stimulants, the non-stimulant medication used in Australia is atomoxetine.You might be prescribed other medications to help with sleep problems or other symptoms.More about medications
Behaviour therapy, ADHD coaching and mentoring will help you to deal with the symptoms of ADHD.This usually involves practical advice on organising your work or home, planning ahead, social skills and working to your strengths.Psychologists with experience managing ADHD can be helpful. There are also a small number of accredited ADHD coaches in Australia.Your GP or psychiatrist can help you to find the right person to talk to.
Learning about ADHD will help you to identify your own set of symptoms and ways to manage them.
Some people find that ADHD can have positive aspects as well. The ability to multitask can be as much an advantage as a disadvantage, depending on your social and work circumstances.
The ability to focus on a number of different things at the same time can be an advantage. For example in a soccer game where the goal keeper keeps track of movements of all the players as well as knowing when the ball is coming to the goal.
Dr Mahendra Perera, psychiatrist
Psychiatrists are the best-placed specialists to diagnose and treat adults with ADHD.A psychiatrist can:
Some psychiatrists are more experienced in diagnosing and treating ADHD than others.Find a psychiatrist near you who has an interest in ADHD
A person with ADHD needs encouragement and lots of structure.You can help by:
Many people who are diagnosed with ADHD in childhood have fewer symptoms as they get older.Other people will have some symptoms for their whole life. With the right approach, chances are you will be able to manage your illness well.
Source: RANZCP website
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