What is ADHD?
ADHD, or Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, is a neurodevelopmental condition marked by persistent difficulties in attention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. It typically starts in childhood and can persist into adulthood, impacting various aspects of life, including school, work, and relationships. Effective management often involves a combination of psychotherapy and medication.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) currently recognises three different types (presentations) of ADHD:
- Predominantly Inattentive Presentation: This subtype is characterised by significant difficulties in sustaining attention and staying organised, with fewer hyperactive-impulsive symptoms. Individuals may struggle with focus, often making careless mistakes, having difficulty following through on tasks, and appearing forgetful in daily activities.
- Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive Presentation: This subtype primarily features hyperactivity and impulsivity, with fewer noticeable inattention symptoms. Individuals tend to be restless, fidgety, and impulsive in their actions, often blurting out answers and having difficulty waiting their turn. While they may have short attention spans, it is overshadowed by their hyperactive-impulsive behaviours.
- Combined Presentation: The combined type is the most common form of ADHD, featuring a combination of significant inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity symptoms. Individuals exhibit a wide range of ADHD-related challenges, impacting various aspects of daily life.
These subtypes highlight the heterogeneity of ADHD, acknowledging that symptoms can manifest differently in different individuals, requiring tailored approaches to diagnosis and treatment.
It is worth noting some researchers believe there is only one (combined) type of ADHD, reasoning that certain individuals may have learned to suppress and internalise their hyperactive tendancies, often resulting in psychological distress related to shame and anxiety.
I think I have ADHD. What should I do?
Depending on how well you manage your symptoms, there may be no need for you to do anything.
However, if you would like to understand if and how ADHD can explain some of the difficulties you experience in life, then we recommend exploring the topic with a mental health professional.
For adults, we offer a free ADHD self-assessment that you can complete in about 5 minutes.
While the above assessment can be a good starting point, other factors like ASD, mood disorders, anxiety disorders, personality disorders, trauma, substance abuse, developmental disabilities, thyroid disorder, and food inteollerances can all present ADHD-like symptoms. We suggest consulting with your GP to explore and rule-out alternative medical explanations.
A requisite for an ADHD diagnosis is that your symptoms were present before the age of 12. If that's the case for you, or you're not sure, you might like to ask your parent/s or guardian/s about what you were like as a child. School report cards can also be useful for this, and will likely be requested as part of a comprehensive assessment.
With or without a diagnosis, you can see a psychologist for help understanding and managing your ADHD symptoms. If you would like to explore medication as part of your symptom management, then you will need a formal diagnosis.
Do you offer ADHD assessments?
We offer comprehensive ADHD assessments, diagnosis, and coaching.
For adults, we offer a free Adult Self-Report ADHD Screener. From there, you can contact us to discuss your options and whether pursuing a formal diagnosis might be of benefit to you.
Please contact us to discuss ADHD assessments for individuals under 18 years of age.