ADHD is a neurodevelopmental condition characterised by 2 sets of symptoms:
- INATTENTIVE symptoms are characterised by poor concentration, distractibility, forgetfulness and a difficulty sticking to tasks resulting in many tasks being undertaken at once with none reaching completion. Disorganisation and carelessness are other features of inattention as is difficulty listening and carrying out instructions.
- HYPERACTIVE and IMPULSIVE symptoms are characterised by difficulty sitting still, fidgeting, excessive movement and an inability to relax. Other features include excessive talking, interrupting, impatience and speaking or acting without thinking through the consequences. People with hyperactive and impulsive symptoms often appear to have little sense of danger.
Most people with ADHD have both sets of symptoms, but some may exhibit more inattentive symptoms and others may exhibit more hyperactive / impulsive symptoms.
Another important feature of ADHD is EMOTIONAL DYSREGULATION characterised by poor temper control (feelings of irritability and short outbursts of temper), over-reactive emotions (difficulty handling stress and feelings of being overwhelmed) and lability in mood (unpredictable and quick shifts in mood from normality to depression or anger or excitement).
All of these symptoms of ADHD are experienced by everybody at some points in their lives but in ADHD these symptoms are extreme, persistent and have a marked impact on day to day functioning:
As a result of these symptoms adults with ADHD often experience:-
- Underachievement in education
- Poor work performance
- Financial difficulties
- Relationship difficulties
- Road traffic accidents
- Involvement in law breaking
Up to 66% of adults with ADHD suffer additional mental health problems including:-
- Drug and alcohol misuse
- Bipolar affective disorder
- Personality disorder
Treatment of ADHD can bring about improvement in all of these areas and make treatment of other mental health problems much more straightforward.