Therapy for ADHD: What are the signs and How do I get Help

Do you have a hard time staying focused? Do you start multiple projects but have a hard time completing any? Do you often feel distracted, impulsive and overwhelmed to the point that you feel your life is getting out of control? Then you may suffer from attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). But there is good news. Help is available, so you can have control of your life.

Symptoms of ADHD can include:

  • Trouble concentrating
  • Excessive activity
  • Restlessness
  • Impulsiveness
  • Problems paying attention
  • Disorganization
  • Frequent mood swings

Though the person with ADHD may not experience all of these symptoms, persistently experiencing more than one can have long lasting effects on their life. These symptoms can make it difficult to live a productive and happy life. With time, effort and professional guidance, this person can learn how to manage these symptoms and enjoy a life in which they are able to reach goals that were previously thought to be unattainable.

ADHD and ADD

ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) is often used synonymously with ADHD. More precisely, ADD manifests very similar symptoms to ADHD without the excessive activity level that can be associated with this disorder. It is possible that an ADHD diagnosis as a child will continue more accurately diagnosed as ADD in adulthood.

Prevalence

Although ADHD is most commonly studied and frequently diagnosed, particularly in children and adolescents, the exact cause is often unknown. Studies have found that 5 – 7% of children are diagnosed with the disorder. Another study, conducted in 2015, estimated that about 51.1 million people suffer from the disorder. If similar methods are used to diagnose ADHD, then the rates of prevalence are similar between countries. ADHD is three times more likely to be diagnosed in boys than girls, although it is believed that the disorder is often overlooked in girls due to the disorder manifesting in different symptoms in girls. Girls with ADHD typically show internalized symptoms including inattentiveness, forgetfulness and low self-esteem. About 30–50% of people diagnosed with ADHD in childhood continue to experience similar symptoms in adulthood. It is estimated that between 2–5% of all adults have the condition.

Associated disorders

ADHD can occur simultaneously with other associated conditions including:

  • Learning disabilities
  • Oppositional defiant disorder (in children)
  • Tourette syndrome
  • Hyper-vigilance
  • Sluggish cognitive tempo (SCT)
  • Mood disorders including depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Substance use disorder
  • Restless legs syndrome
  • Sleep disorders

Difficulties in Time Management

People suffering from ADHD may find themselves continually late for work and social events? No matter how hard they try, it seems that the clock is always their enemy. This doesn’t mean they are lazy or thoughtless. What is true is that the person with ADHD is prone to distractibility that makes it easy to lose track of time. However, with effective counseling, skills can be learned that will helps organize time better. A competent counselor can help the person with ADHD better use devises that they may already own, such as a smartphone or laptop, in order to manage their schedule more efficiently. Helping to prioritize activities so that more important tasks are completed first, is a key component of time management.

Improved organizational skills can also be effective mechanisms in managing symptoms and regaining control of one’s life. An experienced therapist can be very helpful to the person with ADHD develop these skills and learn strategies to maintain them. These skills may include:

  • Organizing one’s work area: Keeping tools and materials in the same place will help identify where an essential tool is when it is needed. This will be important in attempting to complete tasks in a timely manner.
  • Structuring the environment to minimize distractions: In order to maintain one’s attention to task, it is important to situate oneself in a position to limit visual and audible distractions. The use of music or “white noise” may be effective in minimizing distractive sounds.
  • Prioritize one’s work: Without ranking tasks in order of importance, the most recently presented job or activity is most likely to be attended to. Prioritizing assignments or responsibilities will help complete the more important ones first.
  • Use “To Do” lists: After work is prioritized, it is important write them our in order of priority. We are highly responsive to visual stimuli. Seeing our tasks in front of us will allow us to finish them more systematically and efficiently.

ADHD can impact your relationships

Do you find yourself in a conversation with someone you love but realize that you can’t remember a word of what they just said? Are you often accused of being insensitive and uncaring? Do you find yourself in an important meeting at work and realize you have lost what subject is presently being discussed? Do you feel others at your work place think you are incompetent? We all daydream from time to time, but for persons with ADHD, staying focused is a never-ending challenge. Listening effectively is crucial in both professional and social situations. Receptive communication skills are essential for building and maintaining fulfilling relationships both at home and at work. Others perceive how well we are able to recall what they said as signs of either intelligence, most often at work or school) or caring (most likely at home or with other family or friends). A professional counselor will help you learn to hone your listening skills and, in turn, strengthen your relationships with the important people in your life.

Shame Associated with ADHD

Disrespect in the workplace and accusations of not caring at home can leave the person with ADHD with feelings of shame and guilt. However, the stigma of being labeled will often also make it difficult for the person with ADHD to admit that need help. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), estimated that less than 20 percent of adults with ADHD have received treatment. However, the truth is, ADHD is a very real condition can impair the quality of your life. There’s no shame in asking for help, especially when effective and competent treatment can assist the person with ADHD live productive and fulfilling lives.

If you suffer from ADD/ADHD, the counselors at Thriveworks Franklin can help you bring your life into focus. At Thriveworks Franklin, we believe your ADHD shouldn’t define you. Our therapists can assist you to develop the skills that will help you gain control of your life. Make an appointment to see a Thriveworks-Franklin Therapist by call us at 617-360-7210. They are there to help!

References
“Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder”. National Institute of Mental Health. March 2016. Archived from the original on 23 July 2016. Retrieved 5 March 2016.

NIMH (2013). “Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (Easy-to-Read)”. National Institute of Mental Health. Archived from the original on 14 April 2016. Retrieved 17 April 2016.

GBD 2015 Disease and Injury Incidence and Prevalence, Collaborators. (8 October 2016). “Global, regional, and national incidence, prevalence, and years lived with disability for 310 diseases and injuries, 1990–2015: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2015”. Lancet. 388 (10053): 1545–1602.

Willcutt, EG (July 2012). “The prevalence of DSM-IV attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder: A meta-analytic review”. Neurotherapeutics. 9 (3): 490–9.

Crawford, Nicole (February 2003). “ADHD: a women’s issue”. Monitor on Psychology. American Psychological Association. 34 (2): 28. Archived from the original on 9 April 2017.

Kooij, SJ; Bejerot, S; Blackwell, A; Caci, H; et al. (2010). “European consensus statement on diagnosis and treatment of adult ADHD: The European Network Adult ADHD”. BMC Psychiatry. 10: 67.

Barkley, R. A. (2014). “Sluggish Cognitive Tempo (Concentration Deficit Disorder?): Current Status, Future Directions, and a Plea to Change the Name”(PDF). Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology. 42: 117–125

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