You know the stereotype: A student who can’t seem to stay at their desk, needs to keep his hands busy, and struggles to pay attention to the lesson. However, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is much more complex than just fidgety behavior in children. Many people with ADHD have inattentive symptoms without the hyperactivity and impulsivity that is most commonly associated with the stereotype, and these people may be very quiet and reserved. People of all ages and genders can be experiencing ADHD, but the symptoms may not always look the same.
Do you find yourself fidgeting excessively, restless during a time that should be relaxing, or speaking out of turn? Are these behaviors negatively affecting your school or work, family life, romantic relationships, self-esteem, or physical health? ADHD is not just about lack of attention, it’s about your body trying to reduce anxiety in unhelpful, sometimes harmful ways. For inattention, lots of movement, and impulsivity to be considered a disorder, it needs to be chronic and impair your day-to-day functioning. It’s important to receive a diagnosis from a licensed psychologist or psychiatrist who understands the complexity of the disorder.
Although the exact causes of ADHD are still unknown, ADHD is believed to have a strong genetic component. ADHD is a neuro-developmental disorder, meaning that brain development in people with ADHD is different from those without it. There are both structural and functional differences that can be seen with brain imaging. The good news about this is that ADHD brains develop along the same path as non-ADHD brains, but certain brain structures develop more slowly. This means that many people outgrow ADHD and the right treatment may improve the odds of this happening. The brain is like a muscle in the sense that the parts of the brain used more often will become strengthened so treatment that helps kids and adults use their brains in a more typical way could potentially help to rewire or improve the developmental trajectory. This could include therapy and/or medication.
Managing ADHD With Therapy
Psychotherapy has proven time and time again to help treat ADHD. Behavioral Therapy can be extremely effective on two levels. First, it can include skill-building and daily tools, such as lists, reminders, and schedules to help people stay organized. Secondly, therapy can help people monitor their behaviors for a better understanding of what makes symptoms better or worse. Therapy might also include learning social skills and mindfulness skills, or Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) which can help people become aware of how their thoughts and feelings impact their behaviors and vice versa.
Family therapy can also be very helpful. Whether it’s a child, parent, or other family member struggling with ADHD, the family can work together to come up with clear rules and structured routines to help the person develop stronger self-regulating skills and practice pursuing delayed gratification.
Medication for ADHD
In some cases, we might recommend medication for ADHD. If medication is warranted, our board certified child, adolescent and adult psychiatrist and, our psychiatric nurse practitioner will help you determine the best medication for your individual needs. ADHD can be linked to underdeveloped parts of the brain, and medication can help regulate your brain until those underdeveloped parts catch up. Research shows that medication for ADHD is most effective when paired with psychotherapy. Learning helpful skills through therapy may mean that medication won’t be needed long-term.
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ADHD can be a silent assailant. Years can go by with people feeling lesser than, less intelligent than, and not as capable as others. In reality, highly effective treatments can help you begin living the life you want for yourself. We’re here to help you achieve what you want and deserve.
Still have questions about ADHD? We can discuss your specific situation and determine if therapy and medication might benefit you. Schedule a free 15-minute consultation or book your first appointment with a relationship counseling specialist through our secure Client Portal or contact us.