Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is defined as combination of persistent problems with attention, hyperactivity and impulsivity that interferes with functioning in at least two different areas of life, typically home and school for children. This definition pertains more to children as adult often have somewhat different presentation which is characterized by lesser hyperactivity and more impulsivity, whereas poor concentration affects both. Prevalence of ADHD is about 5 % in children, almost double of that in adults.
ADHD is more than just about Kids
Adult sufferers of ADHD often exhibit poor planning and disorganization which is severe enough to affect their relationships and work performance. Also majority of adults with ADHD develop additional mental health problems such as depression, anxiety, personality problems, and substance use. They are also more likely to be fired from jobs and get into legal problems. Symptoms of Adult ADHD include:
- Poor planning
- Disorganization and problems prioritizing tasks
- Problems focusing on a task
- Problems following through and completing tasks
- Difficulties with multitasking
- Poor time management
- Excessive activity or restlessness
- Low frustration tolerance
- Frequent mood swings
- Hot temper
- Trouble coping with stress
What is normal and what is ADHD?
Diagnosis is complicated because some hyperactivity is expected in children as their developing brains are still maturing. With adults almost everyone, at certain point, may become agitated or have trouble concentrating, especially when they are stressed, but this is also not ADHD. Individuals with ADHD typically have persistent symptoms as listed above with frequent problems in multiple areas of life.
Symptoms similar to ADHD can also occur in the context of other mental disorders such as depression, anxiety or bipolar disorder, confusing the diagnosis further. Having said that, nearly 8 in 10 adults with ADHD do suffer from at- least one additional mental health condition.
Clinical diagnosis of ADHD rests on symptoms being present in at least two different settings, which may be lacking at times. Some, particularly those with superior intelligence, may not have academic problems, but may show difficult behavior at home, making diagnosis difficult. At other times parents may be reluctant to treat their children with medications and may decide not to entertain the diagnosis. Either way in many cases, ADHD is not recognized until people are in their 30s or midlife. However in ADHD adults there is unequivocal evidence of symptoms in early childhood- perhaps they were considered just another dreamy kid in their school.
How is ADHD diagnosed?
If any of the symptoms listed above continually disrupt your life it makes sense to talk to your doctor about whether you might have ADHD. Assessment involves referral to a specialist such as paediatrician or psychiatrist for detailed assessment. This also involves clinical interview, collateral information from childhood, school records and neuropsychological testing.
We at Zen Waves Clinic offer computerized cognitive testing and computerized continuous performance test (CPT) as part of comprehensive assessment, which provide an objective evidence of diagnosis and severity of the condition. We offer qEEG, which has also been approved by US FDA (2013) for confirming ADHD and can potentially distinguish ADHD subtypes which respond to different treatments.
What can we do about my ADHD?
Childhood ADHD is usually treated with medications called psychostimulants Treatment in adults is similar, although some medications are approved only in children. In adults additional counselling or medications may be required for co-existing mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety.
In ADHD, Neurofeedback is as effective as stimulants and it can be of value in cases where medications are not an option. qEEG or Brain Mapping can help determine specific subtype of ADHD and provide specific targets for neurofeedback training.
Speak to our staff or healthcare professional for more information on treatment options.