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by Dr. Becky Spelman on 20/08/2020

WHAT IS ATTENTION DEFICIT HYPERACTIVITY DISORDER?

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder/Attention Deficit Disorder (ADHD/ADD) are common disorders that can have a serious impact on the individual’s quality of life. A prompt, accurate diagnosis is essential to ensure that the person in question gets all the supports they need.

ADHD/ADD is a neurodevelopmental disorder that manifests in having difficulty paying attention, engaging in age-inappropriate excessive activity, acting without thinking about the consequences, and struggling with emotional regulation. The condition appears in patients before the age of twelve, persists for at least six months, and causes problems in at least two environmental settings, such as home and school (in other words, the condition is not environment-specific or related to trauma). The cluster of symptoms that characterises ADHD/ADD can lead to academic difficulties, and problems with focus at school or at work. While many children with ADHD/ADD no longer display symptoms on reaching adulthood, up to 50% of individuals have symptoms that persist into the adult years.

ADHD/ADD can have considerable implications for the person in question. However, with an accurate assessment and a tailored approach to treatment, the troubling symptoms of the condition can be managed and ameliorated. In children and in adults alike, it is vital to have an accurate diagnosis of ADHD/ADD so that parents, teachers, partners, and so forth can gain an understanding of the condition and act accordingly. With a clear diagnosis, it is possible to tailor learning strategies that have been developed to help people with ADHD/ADD, while institutions such as schools and colleges are required to make special provision for people with a diagnosis, such as extra time to complete exam papers, or specially tailored support during the learning process.

Could you have ADHD?

You’ve probably heard of ADHD (Attention Deficit Disorder) with respect to childhood disorders, but ADHD is prevalent among adults, too – and just as with children, sufferers tend to experience a range of issues that can impact on their everyday lives, from difficulty sitting still to problems with concentration.

Because many of the behavioural and emotional symptoms involved in ADHD can also be associated with other conditions, strict criteria need to be fulfilled before someone is given a diagnosis. In particular, they have to have displayed several of the symptoms persistently before the age of six. However, because the study of ADHD is relatively new, many adults were never diagnosed as children and finally start getting the help they need only when they themselves look for support with the issues that impact on their daily lives.

What does ADHD in adulthood look like?

ADHD in adulthood can be manifested in difficulties with starting and organising tasks, problems with sustaining focus and effort, difficulties with regulating stress and emotion, issues around short term memory, and with self-control and emotional regulation. Needless to say, all of this can contribute to significant problems in one’s daily life, both at home and at work. Adults with ADHD often worry that they are dealing with problems that they should have “grown out of” by now, or that there are not treatments to help them. Many may have experienced periods of their lives when they attempted to “self-medicate” for their problem behaviours with alcohol, illegal drug use, or other damaging factors.

In fact, while most people with ADHD will experience a range of symptoms all their lives, there are actually many potential approaches to treatment.

What is involved in an ADHD/ADD assessment?

In order to asses for ADHD/ADD properly in order to get an accurate diagnosis for children or adults it’s import to used a combination of psychometric screening tools along with clinical interview.

The Psychometrics tools we use are as follows:

Adults: CAARS Conners Adult ADHD Rating Scales
Children: Connors 3rd edition

What sort of treatments are there?

Some sufferers benefit from medication, particularly if a suitable non-stimulant medication can be prescribed. Most, if not all, also benefit from a range of psychotherapeutic approaches, including cognitive-behavioural therapy, behavioural training, relaxation and stress management, and coaching or mentoring designed to help them to manage their symptoms in the various areas of their lives.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

CBT may be a good choice for adults with ADHD when:

  • Your preference is not to have drug treatment
  • You aren’t satisfied with drug treatments you’ve tried in the past.
  • You find it difficult to take medication.
  • Your symptoms are mild to moderate rather than severe.
  • You are concerned you may misuse the substance based on a history of substance misuse.

Medication

For medication options, please call to discuss. Our psychiatrists can discuss all the ADHD/ADD medication and treatment options with you and help you decide what might be best for you.

OUR APPROACH TO TREATING ADHD/ADD

At Private Therapy Clinic, we use a psychometric screening tool, such as the CAARS Conners Adult ADHD Rating Scale, in combination with a clinical interview that explores the patient’s interactions and behaviour in various areas of their life, including their personal life, their relationships with their family members and close friends, and their academic and work performance. By exploring these three crucial areas of life, our Psychologist acquires the information necessary to make a clear diagnosis.

Our detailed assessment has two essential elements: during the first contact, the adult or child in question, and their guardian or parent if relevant, is invited to discuss their concerns and worries with the Psychologist. Working together for a period of up to two hours, the Psychologist and client explore their family and personal history using a proven assessment tool.

In the case of children with suspected ADHD/ADD, their carer is also asked to arrange for a teacher or other professional at the school to fill out a detailed questionnaire and return it to our office. The material gathered in the questionnaire is further examined in the context of the information acquired during the first session.

While ADHD can often be treated effectively without medication, in some cases medication can help—often in the short term—to manage problem behaviours. In these cases, one of our Child or Adult Psychiatrists can provide a prescription.

WHO CAN I SPEAK TO FURTHER ABOUT ADHD/ADD ASSESSMENTS IN LONDON and the UK?

If you would like to talk to someone about ADHD, please get in touch with us at the Private Therapy Clinic by telephone at: 020 38871738 or by email to: info@privatetherapyclinic.com

References

DuPaul, G. J., Power, T. J., Anastopoulos, A. D., & Reid, R. (1998). ADHD Rating Scale—IV: Checklists, norms, and clinical interpretation. New York, NY, US: Guilford Press.

THERAPISTS WHO treat Attention Deficit Disorder AT PRIVATE THERAPY CLINIC