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Mental health conditions

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

What is ADHD?

ADHD describes three types of difference that some young people and adults have. Sometimes, these differences led to difficulties. Sometimes they lead to strengths and skills.

Here are the three areas of difference:

  • Paying attention: It is hard to concentrate and pay attention.  It is easy to get distracted. Some people may daydream a lot. This is called a problem (or deficit) in attention
  • Moving: People with ADHD move and talk a lot. It is difficult to sit still for a long time.  Teenagers and adults might be able to sit still, but their thoughts might be racing a lot. This is called hyperactivity.
  • Impulsivity: This means not thinking before doing something. It is difficult to stop and plan.

It is possible to have more differences in some areas. For example, some people mostly have problems with attention. Other people mostly show hyperactivity and impulsivity.


When does ADHD cause problems?

Sometimes, these differences can stop you from doing the things you want to do.

  • One example is not being able to stay to have a full conversation with your friends

Sometimes these differences can stop you from doing what you need to do

  • Like learning in the classroom


Getting a diagnosis of ADHD

When this happens, doctors and mental health professionals can be asked to meet with you to try to understand what is happening. They need to do tasks with you, interviews, and gather a lot of information to check if you have these differences and they stop you doing important things. They will decide if you have a diagnosis of ADHD, this means Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. About 3 in 100 boys have a diagnosis of ADHD. About 1 in 100 girls have a diagnosis of ADHD. 


Getting Help if you have ADHD

If you have a diagnosis of ADHD, there are many things that can help.

  1. Knowing about ADHD can help. It helps people understand what is happening better.
  2. Strategies that make things easier for you. Strategies are things people around you can do to help, such giving more breaks or allowing you to move during breaks. There are some strategies young people and adults can learn also.
  3. Medication can help. There are some medications that can help improve paying attention and thinking before doing.  Doctors recommend medication to help with ADHD when there are bigger difficulties or when the strategies do not work well enough. Doctors should take the time to explain to you all you need to know about medication before you start taking it.  


Positive Strengths and ADHD

There are lots of strengths people with ADHD can have too. Here are some of the strengths some people with ADHD describe:

  • Being creative and imaginative
  • Coming up with lots of ideas
  • Being quick with words and being funny


Written by Dr Kevin Tierney