ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), or ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder, without hyperactivity) are the most common neuropsychiatric conditions in childhood and adolescence. They are the second most frequent medical conditions in childhood after asthma.
Symptoms of ADHD tend to be noticed in childhood and most cases are diagnosed when children are 6 to 12 years old. These symptoms usually improve with age, however, many people who are diagnosed with the condition at a young age might continue to experience problems in adulthood.
Leading brain and mind clinic Re:Cognition Health have a Children and Young People’s Service to optimise performance and treatment in children and young people. Dr Maite Ferrin, Consultant Child & Adolescent Psychiatrist at Re:Cognition Health has extensive expertise in the field of ADHD/ADD; she is part of the European ADHD Guidelines Group and the Eunethydis Group. Below it’s my insight into the statistics, symptoms and treatments options for ADHD and ADD.
The Importance of an Early Diagnosis
An early diagnosis can have a massive, positive impact on the life of those with the condition.
ADHD is a treatable condition; some treatments for ADHD have shown the maximum degree of efficacy expected for any neuropsychiatric and even medical condition. It is therefore essential to recognise this condition at an early stage before these symptoms start to have any substantial impact on school, family or social functioning. Young people and adults with a suspicion of ADHD have to face endless waiting lists for up to 1-2 years at NHS services. In addition, approximately 40% of young people referred for ADHD assessment will not have a diagnostic confirmation after six months of follow up. This waiting time is crucial when trying to help young people and adults achieve their full potential.
Re:Cognition Health offers the QbCheck, which is one of a number of neuropsychological tests known as continuous performance tests (CPTs). It was developed by a Swedish company, and it has been granted approval by the US Food and Drug Administration. The QbCheck can give objective evidence to support the diagnosis of ADHD; it can also be helpful in ruling out ADHD in people who present with similar symptoms. Combined with the newest neuropsychological tests the internationally renowned ADHD professionals at Re:Cognition Health have an extensive clinical and research experience in the diagnosis and treatment of ADHD. This will allow immediate recognition and put individuals back on track.
Who is at risk of ADHD / ADHD?
One of the biggest myths about ADHD/ADD is that it is a result of ‘bad parenting’, which is simply not the case. Scientific evidence shows that this condition is a highly heritable condition, mostly resulting from susceptibility genes and environmental risks factors during pregnancy and early childhood which may include low birth weight and premature birth.
How ADHD/ADD Can Affect Someone´s Life?
ADHD/ADD is a condition, not an illness which means individuals may suffer different medical and psychiatric conditions such as anxiety and depression, conduct problems, tics, alcohol or substance use or sleep problems amongst others.
ADHD symptoms might also hinder young people reaching their full potential if they don’t receive the correct support and treatment. Individuals are more likely going to drop studies and achieve lower professional levels than they were initially capable of. People with this condition might also struggle with social and family relationships too. An early diagnosis and treatment plan is essential in order to achieve the best outcomes.
People with a diagnosis should never be underestimated because of their condition as there are many positive characteristics associated with ADHD. Endless energy and vitality, creativity, great problem solving skills, social empathy and charisma are just some of the associated traits. With the right support, the opportunities are endless.
Successful people who have admitted to suffering from this condition include Jim Carrey, Justin Timberlake, Solange Knowles, will.i.am, Michael Phelps, Louis Smith, Paris Hilton, Walt Disney, John F. Kennedy, Albert Einstein and Sir Richard Branson, to name but a few. Many of these individuals have voiced the importance of recognising and understanding the condition and how this had a positive impact on their life.
Because every individual is different, presenting with different symptoms, it can be difficult to recognise ADHD/ADD. Common symptoms can include (but are not limited to) combinations of the following:
- Difficulties in focussing and maintain concentration especially during boring tasks
- Inability to stay still when it is required
- High impulsivity or inability to wait for their turn / thinking before acting
However, it is often much more complex as some people might present with emotional problems like depression and anxiety, behavioural problems, social/family difficulties and problems with learning, organising and planning. There are various tests which can be used as screening tool. However, a diagnosis by specialists in a clinical environment is essential in order to get the very best treatment plan and support.
There are a broad range of treatments currently available for treating ADHD/ADD including medication and non-pharmacological treatments. Medications may be highly effective for some people – especially in the short term, however there are a range of non-pharmacological approaches that can also be useful such as exclusion diets, omega 3 supplements, cognitive therapy and neurofeedback.
Parents of children with this condition might also find parenting strategies very useful. Educating parents, teachers and those directly dealing with it is highly recommended, in order to give the very best support and achieve the best results.