What is Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)?
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a condition that affects people's behaviour and can sometimes result in mental health concerns or affect relationships. Find out more about how we can help by getting in touch.
Symptoms tend to be noticed at an early age and may become more noticeable at significant life changes, such as starting school. Most cases are diagnosed between the ages of 6 and 12 years old. Symptoms usually improve with age, but many adults diagnosed as a child may continue to experience problems.
People with ADHD sometimes have additional problems, such as sleep and anxiety disorders.
Until recently, it was believed that children outgrew ADHD in adolescence because symptoms can appear to lessen in teenage years. However, many symptoms can continue into adulthood and hyperactivity could be experienced as internalised anxiety.
Undiagnosed ADHD in adults can have severe consequences for them and the people living with them. This may lead to substance abuse, criminal activity, failed relationships, troubled work relationships, anxiety and depression.
Some adults describe experiencing “late-onset ADHD”, which means they now meet the diagnostic criteria but didn’t during childhood.
What can I do?
It can be difficult to separate normal child development behaviour from that of an ADHD diagnosis. However, if you do have concerns, consider raising them with your child's teacher, their school's special educational needs co-ordinator (SENCO) or GP if you think their behaviour is different from most children their age.
Speak to your GP if you're an adult and you think you may have ADHD, but weren't diagnosed with the condition as a child.
Self-diagnosis tools can be found online, but the results are not definitive. A diagnosis should be made by a specialist psychiatrist, or other appropriately qualified healthcare professional with training and expertise in the diagnosis of ADHD, following a referral made by your GP.
The World Health Organization Adult Self-Report Scale (ASRS) Screener can be a useful starting point to facilitate the conversation with your GP.
For information on the symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of ADHD in both children and adults, visit NHS Choices.
The ADHD Foundation also provides information, and details of training for professionals.
If you are an adult with ADHD or if you think you may have ADHD, there's also an online support group website with information, advice and research.