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Paying attention to Adult ADHD

By Jill Wright, Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Teachers tend to flag children who are hyperactive and restless and/or easily distracted in the classroom environment. Often these children suffer from ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder).

ADHD affects about 5% of children and can persist into adulthood. According to the American Psychiatric Association in 2013, as many as one in 40 adults would be diagnosed with ADHD if they received attention. Unfortunately, a considerable portion of these adults are not getting help, simply because they are unaware of their condition.

The reason Adult ADHD slips under the radar is that its symptoms, which include failure to concentrate, difficulty sustaining attention, poor organisation skills, and their associated features, including irritability and mood swings, can be mistaken for stress, bad sleep, or the consequences of a demanding job.

It is important to raise awareness and increase support for adults with ADHD to address the imbalance between the number of specialised ADHD services for children and adolescents and those helping adults with this condition.

Psychologists can help individuals with ADHD, improving their levels of social and occupational functioning and enhancing quality of life.

Treatment for ADHD varies according to the needs of the individual. Those with mild ADHD without complex issues generally benefit from a range of psychological strategies.

For example, to help with planning and time management, strategies such as SMART goals, prioritisation  and organisational skills may be offered. There are also strategies for reducing distractions and increasing attention span, as well as relaxation strategies to cope with distress, such as deep breathing, meditation and mindfulness (Murphy, 2014). For those with more severe symptoms, a combination of medication (e.g., Ritalin) and psychological treatment as well as social support is often recommended (Australian Psychological Society, 2018).

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