Below find frequently asked questions about ADHD and how therapy can help.
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General Questions About ADHD
What does ADHD mean?
ADHD stands for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. It is a common mental disorder affecting both children and adults. Symptoms include:
How common is ADHD?
ADHD is one of the most common mental disorders that affect children, as well as many adults. It is estimated that 8.4% of children and 2.5% of adults in the US have ADHD. Although it affects all sexes, it is more commonly diagnosed in males.
What are the three types of ADHD?
ADHD can be diagnosed as inattentive, hyperactive/impulsive, or a combination of the two. Diagnosis is dependent upon having six or more associated symptoms as a child or five or more associated symptoms as an adult.
- Individuals with inattentive type ADHD may have trouble paying attention to details, focusing, listening, following through on tasks, staying organized, and related things.
- Individuals with hyperactive/impulsive type ADHD may struggle with staying still/seated when required, fidgeting, talking excessively, interrupting others, and related things.
- And of course, an individual with a combined type ADHD has symptoms of both the previously listed types of ADHD.
What does ADHD feel and look like in children?
Each child is an individual, and may experience symptoms of ADHD differently, but common complaints may include an inability to sit still, trouble concentrating, getting distracted easily, lack of organization, interrupting others or using their personal items without permission. This can often lead school-age children to have difficulty completing their schoolwork, behaving appropriately in a classroom setting, and/or getting along with others.
What does ADHD feel and look like in adults?
Adults share many of the same symptoms, but they may manifest differently in their everyday lives. Examples may include taking over tasks that have been assigned to others, fidgeting/restlessness, impatience with others, difficulty keeping up with necessary tasks such as returning phone calls or paying bills, and/or missing deadlines or having general trouble managing their time.
Why do I have ADHD?
ADHD does have a genetic component. For example, if your parent(s) and/or sibling(s) have the condition, you may have a higher likelihood of developing it yourself.
That being said, genetics plays a complex role in the development of the disorder, and it is very possible for individuals within a family with a history of ADHD to not develop the condition at all.
Where does ADHD affect the brain?
Individuals with ADHD often share certain characteristics within their brains. Studies have shown that certain areas of the brain that are associated with behavioral control may be smaller, while other portions of the brain may be larger. In addition, ADHD also has an impact on an individual’s dopamine and serotonin, which impact reward centers, explaining the impulse to search for “satisfaction” through compulsive or excessive means.
Why is ADHD a mental illness?
ADHD could be classified as a mental illness in that it affects behavior, mood, and/or thinking. The term mental illness covers a broad range of behavior disorders, and is certainly nothing to be concerned about.
Is ADHD overdiagnosed?
It is a hot topic to discuss whether ADHD has been overdiagnosed in children or even in adults. The fact remains that if you believe you are struggling from symptoms of ADHD, help is available. Your diagnosis does not define you, but it does often provide a starting point to getting the help you need in addition to often helping individuals feel less alone and more understood.
Is ADHD a disability?
ADHD can be considered a disability, qualifying an individual for additional education support or federal benefits, if and only if it can be determined to impact that individual’s ability to complete associated tasks, i.e. it interferes with their ability to thrive in an educational or work setting.
This can indeed be the case for some individuals, and if you believe this to be the case, assistance is available.
How does a person with ADHD think?
Individuals with ADHD think differently from that of the rest of the population in that they may have extreme difficulty concentrating on tasks that do not interest them, while at the same time having extreme difficulty pulling themselves away from tasks that do garner their attention. This contradiction can cause misunderstandings about the condition: it is not that they cannot concentrate, but that they are not always in control of when or how much to concentrate on each task.
This same way of thinking can also cause individuals with ADHD to have trouble following social cues such as not interrupting or listening to others, as well as leading to impulsive behaviors in general.
Questions About Diagnosing ADHD
Who can diagnose ADHD?
ADHD can be diagnosed by physicians, nurse practitioners, psychologists, social workers, and other licensed mental health professionals.
Where can I get tested for ADHD?
If you believe that you may be suffering from undiagnosed ADHD, your primary care physician is a great place to start. Depending on their experience and your history/symptoms, they may diagnose you themselves, or they may refer you to a licensed mental health professional.
If you currently see a mental health professional and would prefer to speak with them about your condition, you can certainly bring that up the next time you are together!
How is ADHD diagnosed?
There is not a single or specific test for ADHD. A physician or mental health professional may ask you a series of questions in order to gauge your symptoms and determine if they may be related to ADHD. Individuals must experience a certain number and severity of symptoms in order to receive the diagnosis.
When is ADHD diagnosed?
ADHD can be diagnosed at any time, but it is most commonly diagnosed among school-age children. This is for a number of reasons, including the fact that ADHD is commonly screened for, and that children often have a team of adults around them (parents, teacher, etc.) who may notice traits that lead them to suspect the condition.
That being said, adults can also be diagnosed with ADHD. Speaking to your physician or mental health provider is a great first step in determining if you might benefit from assistance in this area.
When should I test my child for ADHD?
If you believe that your child may have ADHD, then there is no reason to delay speaking to a medical professional about it. They will help you determine whether or not they struggle from the disorder, and provide an effective treatment plan to help them manage their symptoms.
Questions About ADHD Treatment
What is the first line treatment for ADHD?
Each individual is different both in the severity and the scope of their ADHD, and therefore it can be difficult to name a treatment without knowing their condition. That being said, most individuals will benefit from some sort of medication (often a stimulant) as well as behavioral therapy.
How can I control ADHD without medication?
Behavioral therapy can help individuals develop the skills necessary to cope with ADHD symptoms. Sometimes, depending on the severity of the disorder, this may provide them with the relief that they need. In other cases, medication may be beneficial as well. Medication is not something that needs to be feared or avoided, and can provide a healthy and long-term solution for many individuals with ADHD.
What ADHD medicines are there?
The most common ADHD medicines are stimulants, although non-stimulants can also be used in some cases. The goal of these medications is to help counteract ADHD’s effects, including difficulty concentrating or controlling one’s non-desirable urges or behaviors.
Who can treat ADHD?
ADHD should be treated by a physician and mental health professional in combination. By working together as a care team, the patient will achieve excellent results through the combined efforts of the medical and mental health team.
What food should be avoided with ADHD?
Diet as a treatment for ADHD alone is up for debate, but experts agree that a balanced and healthy diet is certainly a step in the right direction. This means adequate intake of the various macro nutrients (protein, fats, and complete carbohydrates) as well as omega-3 fatty acids, which are thought to be good for brain health in general.
Even though caffeine is a stimulant, and stimulants are often used to treat ADHD, the science behind the effectiveness of caffeine to treat ADHD is mixed. For adults, that does not mean that you need to avoid your daily coffee, but that you should not seek to increase your intake. Children should, of course, avoid caffeine.
Questions About ADHD and Therapy
Can a therapist help with ADHD?
Therapists can help individuals with ADHD, or families affected by ADHD in the case of children, by providing behavioral therapy for individuals and families. This may include providing education on the disorder and what to expect, as well as teaching coping mechanisms and other skills that help individuals with ADHD stay focused or find fulfillment in tasks that seem boring or difficult.
In cases of family therapy, your therapist can work with everyone in the same way, teaching the family unit how to work together to encourage the child with ADHD to succeed and how to approach difficult or unfamiliar situations as they develop.
What does a therapist do for ADHD?
Therapists provide behavioral therapy for individuals and families affected by ADHD. This is an important part of any therapy session (non-ADHD therapy included!) which involves teaching individuals to recognize individual strengths, weakness, and behavioral patterns in order to better work toward their goals.
ADHD affects everyone in a different way, and your therapist can help you identify the areas that you struggle as well as those you succeed in, and then help you craft a strategy to grow and progress beyond the condition to lead a satisfying and fulfilling life.
In the case of children, your therapist can help families work together to help the child succeed and grow both academically and socially.
What is the best therapy for ADHD?
Behavioral therapy is most common in the treatment of ADHD as it provides coping mechanisms and insight into what can otherwise be a confusing and frustrating set of behaviors. Once you understand the behaviors within the context of the disorder, it is easier to work toward overcoming them in the future.
Questions About Children and ADHD
Can ADHD go away?
In many cases, ADHD symptoms change over time. This means that a child’s symptoms may in fact reduce over time, resulting in them not needing the same assistance they once did. In certain cases, this could mean a reduction or elimination of their need for medication or additional support.
That being said, it is also not uncommon for ADHD symptoms to continue into adulthood, and that’s okay! The goal of treatment for ADHD is not to cure individuals of the disorder, but rather to provide them with the tools they need to live happy, healthy, and productive lives, without being held back by their condition.
What are the symptoms of a child with ADHD?
Children with ADHD may have trouble sitting still, concentrating, or staying focused. They may exhibit a lack of organization, impatience or struggle with conventional social skills. Within a school setting, they may have difficulty completing schoolwork, staying on task, or sitting quietly.
Is ADHD inherited from the mother or the father?
ADHD does have a genetic component and therefore has an increased likelihood of developing if either the mother or the father has a history of ADHD. It is not gender-specific, and as such it does not have an additional effect whether it is the mother or the father with the condition.