People with ADHD are constantly coming up with new ideas and new ways of doing things. They have tremendous levels of creativity…they are great world-class problem solvers.

William Dodson M.D.

Understanding ADHD

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental condition that causes differences in parts of the brain involved in focus, organisation, planning, motivation, and impulse control.

Sometimes these issues can look like laziness or an inability to learn – but they are not. ADHD starts in childhood, but sometimes the diagnosis is missed to only later be diagnosed in adulthood.

Often my patients with adult ADHD recall from their past being called a daydreamer or told they were not performing up to their potential. Although having ADHD can make studying, work, and one’s social life difficult, there are effective treatments for ADHD, so it’s never too late to seek help.


What causes ADHD?

ADHD does tend to run in families, but the exact causes of ADHD are not fully understood. Some factors that are thought to contribute include exposure in the womb to drugs, alcohol or lack of oxygen, premature birth, infection or injury to the brain, and challenging experiences during early childhood.

What’s it like to have ADHD?

The main symptoms of adults with ADHD include inattention (difficulty paying attention), hyperactivity (being overly active) and impulsivity.

The inattention that people with ADHD experience can often include difficulty focusing on a task for a sustained period, lacking attention to detail, being easily distracted, procrastinating, being disorganised, having poor time management, forgetfulness, and misplacing things. Interestingly, people with ADHD often can pay attention to the things they enjoy but lose focus when they get bored.

Hyperactivity for adults with ADHD can lead to feelings of agitation and nervousness, experiencing rapid thoughts, having a hard time switching their mind off, being unable to sit still for long periods of time or having trouble unwinding or relaxing, talking too much in social situations and having trouble with sleeping.

Impulsivity in adult ADHD can lead to mood swings, being quick to temper, being easily frustrated, starting tasks but not finishing them, interrupting others, and taking action before thinking of the consequences.

Diagnosis of ADHD

The integrative assessment of ADHD requires a comprehensive evaluation that may take up to 3 hours (or 3 sessions) that usually includes a detailed psychiatric history, screening tools, corroborative sources, and a physical check-up (performed by your GP).

Adult ADHD can often overlap with the symptoms of other mental health issues, such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and PTSD. Sometimes medical issues can mimic symptoms of ADHD. Therefore, the assessment of ADHD also incorporates the screening of other mental health and medical conditions.


The upside of ADHD

Not everything about ADHD is considered a downside. Some people find that their ADHD has positive aspects as well. The ability to multitask can be as much an advantage as a disadvantage, depending on your social and work circumstances. Sometimes people with ADHD can excel at what they enjoy such as channelling their energy into creative outlets. With optimal treatment to reduce the downsides of ADHD, people with ADHD may discover the upsides in certain situations.

Treatment and management of ADHD

ADHD impacts the whole person, so holistic treatments that target more than just inattention and hyperactivity are important. After making a diagnosis of ADHD, I would devise a personalised treatment plan that considers the best that conventional medicine and complementary approaches have to offer.

Conventional treatments for ADHD

The most common and effective treatments for ADHD are conventional – medication and psychotherapy. Medications for treating ADHD help to regulate the levels of neurotransmitters in the brain which in turn alleviate common symptoms of ADHD. Psychotherapy such as cognitive behavioural therapy and ADHD coaching can assist in improving some of the common problems that people with ADHD have, such as dealing with impulsiveness and temper, providing guidance in time management, organisation and problem solving, strategies for dealing with self-esteem issues and improving relationships with others.

Complementary treatments for ADHD

An integrative management plan for ADHD may combine conventional strategies with complementary treatment approaches like supplementation, mindfulness, self-compassion exercises, and optimisation of healthy lifestyle changes such as diet, sleep and exercise.

Recovery from ADHD

Some people who are diagnosed with ADHD in childhood find that symptoms diminish as they get older. Other people will continue to have symptoms to adulthood, but with a holistic treatment approach, is perfectly possible to live a fulfilling life with ADHD.