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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    What is ADD/ADHD?

  • Find a professional to answer your question

  • 1

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    Vikki Rose Graydon

    Speech Pathologist

    Executive Principal of CHI.L.D. Association since 2005. CHI.L.D. runs The Glenleighden School in Fig Tree Pocket, Brisbane, the only school in Australia providing a multidisciplinary … View Profile

    ADD/ADHD is a neurobiological condition usually first noticed in childhood. There are three main signs of ADD/ADHD:
    1. Problems with paying attention,
    2. Being very active (called hyperactivity), and
    3. Acting before thinking (called impulsivity)
     
    Resources:
    www.help4adhd.org
    www.chadd.org
    www.nichcy.org

  • 2

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    Dr Tim Edwards-Hart

    Clinical Psychologist, Psychologist

    Dr Tim Edwards-Hart is a clinical psychologist working with adults, young adults and adolescents (age 15+). He has expertise assessing and managing ADHD, anxiety, and … View Profile

    ADHD stands for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder although it used to be called Attention Deficit Disorder (which is where “ADD” comes from). It is a neurodevelopmental condition, meaning that it has to do with the development of the brain and is usually inherited. There are different levels of brain chemicals, called neurotransmitters, in ADHD brains and recent research indicates that these brains may also be wired differently.

    The key feature of ADHD is difficulty controlling attention. People with ADHD are more easily distracted and find it difficult to focus on things that are not interesting to them. When they do manage to focus, they can then find it very difficult to switch their attention when needed. Different ages display this in various ways but overall it means that people with ADHD find it harder to be organised, listen to instructions, pay attention to details or remember everyday things than people with “regular” brains. They are often more emotionally reactive than other people and are sometimes considered to be overly sensitive or irritable.

    Despite being in the name ADHD, only some people present with hyperactive behaviours (such as excessive fidgeting or difficulty staying seated). People used to think that children “grew out of” ADHD during their teen years, but we now know this is not the case. Instead, hyperactivity decreases as teens learn to better control their behaviour even though they may still feel restless inside. 

    Finally, although ADHD is often diagnosed in childhood, it can affect people throughout their lives. Many people with with ADHD, especially if they don't present with hyperactivity, do not get diagnosed until they are teenagers or adults when the demands of school or work begin to exceed their attention and organisational abilities. Although some people are not diagnosed until they are in the 40s or even older, because ADHD is a developmental condition their difficulties can be traced back to their childhood.

  • 2

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    I am a Consultant Psychiatrist and Psychoanalytic Psychotherapist who specialises in Adult ADHD, Jungian Psychotherapy, and the Psychological Medicine aspects of Chronic Pain conditions. View Profile

    Attention Deficit Disorder and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorders are common (1 in 15 in our community), seriously disabling, and eminently treatable mental disorders. Usually evident in childhood, but often overlooked, most with ADD and ADHD will struggle lifelong with the condition. 

    Those with ADD/ADHD struggle to apply themselves in a creative way to a balanced range of activities, and often loose interest, motivation, and attention, and become bored and easily distracted when involved in activities beyond very limited areas they are passionate about. Many  describe themselves as prone to 'daydreaming', many feel agitated, restless, unable to switch off the mind and overwealmed by too many thoughts. Some find themselves overactive and always busy, and overtalative. Uninspiring teachers often observe the teenager with ADD/ADHD would do better academically "if only they applied themselves" in uninspiring school subjects, while inspiring teachers in a subject of passion report "excellent work". 

    Those with ADD/ADHD are prone to low self esteem, loss of faith in others, may lapse into alcohol and drugs in an effort to soothe their agitated states of mind, may become seriously depressed, and often experience relationship difficulties. They may also be high achievers in an area of passion, such as sport or career, and become excessively devoted to such activity, to the neglect of a balanced life. 

    The cause of ADD/ADHD is not known, however the condition often runs in families, so is though to often have a genetic basis. 

    A mental health expert, usually a Psychiatrist or Clinical Psychologist trained in the assessment and diagnosis is required for a definite diagnosis, or to definitely exclude the diagnosis. 

    Treatment is very likely to be very helpful, and a combination of medicine and therapy is usually recommended. 

  • 1

    Thanks

    I am a Consultant Psychiatrist and Psychoanalytic Psychotherapist who specialises in Adult ADHD, Jungian Psychotherapy, and the Psychological Medicine aspects of Chronic Pain conditions. View Profile

    Attention Deficit Disorder and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorders are common (1 in 15 in our community), seriously disabling, and eminently treatable mental disorders. Usually evident in childhood, but often overlooked, if untreated most with ADD and ADHD will struggle lifelong with the condition. 

    Those with ADD/ADHD struggle to apply themselves in a creative way to a balanced range of activities, and often loose interest, motivation, and attention, and become bored and easily distracted when involved in activities beyond very limited areas they are passionate about. Many  describe themselves as prone to 'daydreaming', many feel agitated, restless, unable to switch off the mind and overwealmed by too many thoughts. Some find themselves overactive and always busy, and overtalkative. Uninspiring teachers of uninspiring subjects often observe the teenager with ADD/ADHD would do better academically "if only they applied themselves", while inspiring teachers in a subject the student is passionate about report teenagers producing "excellent work". 

    Those with ADD/ADHD are prone to low self esteem, loss of faith in others, may lapse into alcohol and drugs in an effort to soothe their agitated states of mind, may become seriously depressed, and often experience relationship difficulties. They may also be high achievers in an area of passion, such as sport or career, and become excessively devoted to such activity, to the neglect of a creatively balanced life. 

    The cause of ADD/ADHD is not known, however the condition often runs in families, so is thought to often have a genetic basis. 

    A mental health expert, usually a Psychiatrist or Clinical Psychologist trained in the assessment and diagnosis of ADD/ADHD is required for a definite diagnosis, or to definitely exclude the diagnosis. 

    Lifelong treatment is very likely to be very helpful, and a combination of medicine and therapy is usually recommended. 

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