What is ADHD?
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental difference that affects millions of individuals, across age groups and socioeconomic backgrounds. It presents as a persistent pattern of inattention, hyperactivity, and/or impulsivity that can significantly impact an individual’s daily functioning and quality of life. These symptoms can appear across various settings and across the life-span, including school, work, and social environments; making it challenging for individuals to meet their goals and potential.
At Foundation Psychology, we have psychologists specifically trained to assess, diagnose and support people with ADHD across the lifespan. Importantly, our psychologists are aware that ADHD can co-occur with other mental health disorders such as anxiety, depression, learning disabilities, substance abuse, and behavioural challenges.
Identifying potential signs of ADHD in a child or young person:
Parents and carers don’t have to be experts in ADHD or other mental health concerns, but it can be helpful to seek support from our psychologists if you are noticing a particular pattern of behaviour. This can include:
- Inattention: Challenges in concentrating, forgetting or missing instructions, and moving from one task to another without completion.
- Impulsivity: Acting without thinking, losing control of emotions quickly.
- Overactivity: Constantly fidgeting, inability to sit still, and restlessness.
Many children and adolescents have a limited attention span and sometimes behave without thinking, but only a few might have ADHD.
Identifying potential signs of ADHD in adults:
While some people may find their ADHD symptoms change into adulthood, many continue to experience them. This can present as difficulty in organising tasks, always being late, impulsive decision-making and risk-taking, and restlessness.
How can a diagnosis and support from a psychologist help?
A diagnosis and support from a psychologist can help in validating your experience, and in receiving guidance and a support plan tailored to you or your child.
At Foundation Psychology, we have psychologists who conduct ADHD assessments. They utilise evidence-based tools for both children/young people and adults, and provide a report highlighting results and recommendations for you or your child.
They may also provide referral to support other co-occuring mental health conditions, now with an understanding of how ADHD may interact with this/these. As such, our approach is evidence-based, holistic, and considered; and aims to provide multi-layered support to your child or individual journey.
Our psychologists and assessment process:
The child assessment consists of an initial session with the parent(s)/carer(s) of the child, and utilising evidence-based measures with the child over two following sessions. Jemima then writes a comprehensive report highlighting the results, and provides recommendations to best support your child/young person in a final feedback session.
Andrea Beres (ages 18+)
The adult ADHD assessment is completed over two sessions utilising evidence-based measures, Andrea then writes up a comprehensive report, and has a third feedback session with you to discuss results, treatment, and support.
ADHD and Other Mental Health Challenges
ADHD rarely exists in isolation, often coexisting with other mental health conditions. Common comorbidities include:
- Anxiety Disorders: Individuals with ADHD may experience excessive worry, fear, and restlessness, leading to anxiety disorders such as generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety, or specific phobias.
- Depression: Feelings of sadness, low energy, and lack of interest in activities can accompany ADHD, particularly in adolescents and adults. The struggle to meet expectations and cope with daily challenges may contribute to the development of depression.
- Learning Disabilities: ADHD can interfere with cognitive processes, impacting academic performance and increasing the risk of specific learning disabilities.
- Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) and Conduct Disorder (CD): Behavioral challenges, defiance, and aggression may arise in children and adolescents with untreated ADHD.
- Substance Abuse: Adults with untreated ADHD may turn to substances to self-medicate, attempting to cope with emotional and cognitive difficulties.
- Autism. Both ADHD and Autism are part of whats called neurodivserity; the idea that everyone brain is little bit different.
ADHD Across the Lifespan
1. Presentation in Children: ADHD symptoms in children may vary. Inattention may be evident when they struggle to focus on tasks, follow instructions, or complete schoolwork. Hyperactivity can manifest as restlessness, fidgeting, and difficulty remaining seated. Impulsivity may lead to interrupting others, impatience, and making hasty decisions.
2. Presentation in Adolescents: Adolescents with ADHD often face additional challenges as academic demands increase and social pressures escalate. Impulsivity can lead to risky behaviors, and inattention may affect academic performance and social relationships.
3. Presentation in Adults: While some individuals outgrow ADHD symptoms, many continue to experience them into adulthood. In adults, symptoms may manifest as difficulty organizing tasks, chronic lateness, impulsivity in decisions and relationships, and restlessness.
The Importance of a Diagnosis by a Psychologist
Early and accurate diagnosis of ADHD is crucial for several reasons:
- Effective Treatment: A proper diagnosis allows for tailored treatment plans, combining behavioral therapy, psychoeducation, and, if necessary, medication to manage symptoms effectively.
- Preventing Complications: Left untreated, ADHD can lead to academic or occupational underachievement, strained relationships, and reduced self-esteem.
- Addressing Comorbidities: A comprehensive evaluation by a psychologist helps identify any coexisting mental health challenges, enabling integrated treatment for improved outcomes.
- Understanding Individual Needs: A psychologist’s assessment considers unique strengths and challenges, leading to personalized interventions that best suit an individual’s needs.
- Empowering Individuals and Families: A diagnosis provides clarity and validation for individuals and their families, fostering a better understanding of ADHD and promoting support and empathy.
In conclusion, ADHD is a multifaceted neurodevelopmental disorder that can interact with other mental health challenges, affecting individuals across different stages of life. Recognizing the importance of a professional diagnosis cannot be understated. At Foundation Psychology, we are dedicated to providing comprehensive assessments and evidence-based interventions, empowering individuals to navigate life with ADHD successfully. Together, we can build a foundation for a brighter future