February 8

A Brief Overview of ADHD

You know how sports bars have a million TVs with different games playing on each one? Imagine trying to focus on all of them at once, that's what it is like to have ADHD. Having this condition does not mean that you lack the ability to focus, more so that you are focused on everything at once.

ADHD is categorized by inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. Affecting 139.84 million people globally, with the onset of the condition typically discovered in childhood, which usually continues into adulthood.

There are several mismatch theories that explain the origins of ADHD. Some believe that during the pre-Neolithic period, people with ADHD were the "hunters" of the tribe due to hyperactivity (energetic/tireless behavior), impulsivity (changing strategy quickly), and inattention (detecting environmental changes) traits.

What are the 3 ADHD Types?

As of late, professionals use ADHD as an umbrella term. Prior to this change, the disorder was stratified into two categories: ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) and ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). ADD explained the inattentive symptoms, while ADHD explained hyperactivity and impulsiveness.

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or DSM-V, those diagnosed with ADHD fall into one of three categories.

1. Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive Type ADHD

This type of ADHD is classified by the symptoms associated with hyper focus and impulsivity. Those with this type of ADHD constantly move and struggle to stay seated. You appear to be "driven by a motor," as if you are always on the run.  You will talk non-stop, interrupt others, blurt out answers while struggling with self-control. Here are the symptoms associated with this type of ADHD:

  • Often fidgets with or taps hands or feet, or squirms in seat
  • Often leaves seat in situations when remaining seated is expected
  • Often runs about or climbs in situations where it is not appropriate
  • Often unable to play or take part in leisure activities quietly
  • Is often “on the go” acting as if “driven by a motor”
  • Often talks excessively
  • Often blurts out an answer before a question has been completed
  • Often has trouble waiting their turn
  • Often interrupts or intrudes on others 


Hyperactive ADHD Type

Photo Credit: Venti Views | Unsplash

2. Predominantly Inattentive Type ADHD

The inattentive type struggle with sustaining attention, following instructions, and organizing tasks and activities. Your working memory is weaker due to the condition and you become easily distracted. The following symptoms are associated with this the inattentive ADHD type:

ADHD like stare from woman sitting in dark room

Photo Credit: Katelyn Montagna | Unsplash

  • Often fails to give close attention to details or makes careless mistakes in schoolwork, at work, or with other activities
  • Often has trouble holding attention on tasks or play activities
  • Often does not seem to listen when spoken to directly
  • Often does not follow through on instructions and fails to finish schoolwork, chores, or duties in the workplace
  • Often has trouble organizing tasks and activities
  • Often avoids, dislikes, or is reluctant to do tasks that require mental effort over a long period of time
  • Often loses things necessary for tasks and activities (e.g. keys, paperwork, eyeglasses, mobile telephones)
  • Is often easily distracted
  • Is often forgetful in daily activities

3. Combined ADHD Type

A mental health professional will conduct an assessment to see if you have the combined ADHD type.  In order to be diagnosed with this type, you must exhibit at least six out nine symptoms of hyperactive-impulsive ADHD type in addition to exhibiting six out of the nine symptoms for inattentive ADHD type listed above. 

What Medication is Used for ADHD?

The amount of medications used to treat ADHD is borderline endless, and going through each one can feel overwhelming. The ones listed in this article are the most commonly prescribed medications for ADHD. Also, the medications listed are the extended-release version. Know that there are instant-release medications available. These are some of the most commonly prescribed ADHD medications:

  • Adderall XR
  • Concerta
  • Dexedrine
  • Focalin
  • Ritalin
  • Vyvanse

While the list of ADHD medications is quite long, producing similar results, the medication can affect each person differently due to the dynamic nature of the human brain. When one has prescribed medication, it is okay to talk with your psychiatrist about the other medications available to find the one that works best.

Non-stimulant medications for ADHD

While stimulant-based medications are typically prescribed to treat symptoms of ADHD, the side effects of those medications can be unbearable. The comedown of Adderall, for example, can cause irritability and aggression. If the medication causes distress or fails to help manage the disorder's symptoms, some psychiatrists might prescribe anti-depressants to use with or without the stimulant medication. The anti-depressant can tame the stimulant's side effects; or improve focus and concentration without the stimulant medication.

What Type of Therapy is Used for ADHD?

Talk Therapy

Photo Credit: Christina Wocintechchat | Unsplash

While medication is a common way to treat ADHD, therapy is a recommended and helpful option to navigate comorbidities associated with the disorder like anxiety and depression. Therapy and medication treatment used in combination is proven to be the most effective when treating ADHD. Nevertheless, several therapy types are helpful when managing symptoms of the disorder. 

Behavioral Therapy

Behavioral therapy is a type of psychotherapy that assists in changing a person's behavior. It can teach one how to monitor their behavior, praise oneself for acting a certain way, and think before acting. Additionally, this therapy can teach you social skills such as reading facial expressions and recognizing the tone of voice that other people are using.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive-behavioral therapy, or CBT, helps you become aware, accepting their thoughts and feelings. As stated above, common comorbidities of ADHD are anxiety and depression, which CBT is one of the most effective therapy methods for treating those disorders.

Support Groups

Support groups can be beneficial for those with ADHD as well as loved ones associated with them. Partaking in a support group provides insight and resources. As people meet up, they discuss their failures and successes while exchanging information on strategies and specialists that have worked well for them.

Are there holistic options for treating ADHD?

While ADHD can negatively impact one's daily life, there are ways to manage symptoms without medication. Building a routine based on healthy habits is a great starting point. You can improve your focus, concentration, and mood with exercise and a healthy diet. Additionally, some supplements can enhance focus, such as L-tyrosine, an amino acid that is an essential building block for protein. This supplement helps with ADHD, depression, and narcolepsy. However, if you or a loved one are showing symptoms, please reach out to a professional to get a proper diagnosis, which we offer at Seattle Wellness Center.

Summary

ADHD is an attention disorder and neural divergence. Those with the condition are impulsive, hyperactive, or inattentive, depending on the type of ADHD. Medication and therapy used in combination have shown excellent results, but each treatment type, on its own, has positive results as well. If you have ADHD you can benefit from a routine based on healthy habits like diet and exercise. Most people with the condition thrive in chaotic work environments such as working in a kitchen and marketing agency. Like most mental health conditions, it's not a set back just a different way of navigating the world.

Written by: Dave Bugg

Tags

adhd, adhd therapy, cbt, healing journey, healthy habits, Mental health, psychology, talk therapy, therapist, therapy


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