Between five and ten percent of children in the UK have attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and two thirds of these will still experience symptoms when they reach 25. The prevalence of the condition and the difficulty in obtaining a diagnosis can make life much more difficult for parents and affect the child’s performance at school. Finding out about the condition can help you determine whether you or your loved one is suffering from it, and learning about the treatment options helps you determine the best course of action. Medication can be offered in some cases, but counselling is often more effective at helping people manage their behaviour.
ADHD is characterised by an inability to pay lasting attention to work and play, a disorganised approach to tasks, not listening to people, becoming easily distracted and being generally forgetful. An affected child might also fidget or squirm when sat down, have trouble staying sat down, be unable to play quietly and run or climb too often. Impulsive behaviours include interrupting others, talking too much and an inability to take turns. The similarity of these symptoms to ordinary childhood behaviour makes the condition difficult to diagnose, and a professional therapist is likely to be required. The child may be predominately inattentive, hyperactive-impulsive or a combination of both.
There are also a couple of conditions which can occur alongside ADHD which may also require attention from a counsellor. One of these is oppositional defiant disorder, which involves arguments, temper problems and a compulsion to defy instruction. Conduct disorder is another commonly co-existing problem, which involves things like lying, stealing, rule breaking and general anti-social behaviour. These problems can make things even more difficult for parents, but they can also be managed through therapy.
The causes of ADHD aren’t precisely known, but there are many potential explanations. One of these relates to an imbalance of natural neurotransmitters within the brain, and another is dependent on genetic inheritance. Studies on identical twins have provided evidence for the genetic argument, but it still isn’t necessarily the cause. The child’s home life can be a factor, particularly if there is a high degree of stress. Some psychologists also believe that the child is unable to filter the relevant information from the plethora of sensory data we receive every second, which leads to a lack of focus. Regardless of the cause, the treatment should always incorporate counselling.
There are a few different medications commonly offered for ADHD. The most well-known is methylphenidate (Ritalin), which is designed to help improve focus. Another option is dexamphetamine (Dexedrine), and the final one is atomexetine. These are all amphetamine-style stimulant medications, and accomplish roughly the same thing. The main problem with using medication for ADHD is that it has been shown to be considerably less effective without therapy.
Psychotherapy for ADHD is usually focused on teaching the child or individual to manage the symptoms of the condition. The therapist will help with stress management, encourage better behaviour and help with general social skills. Parents of children with ADHD will often be provided with training sessions to help them manage the condition more effectively. It’s important to remember that there is no “cure” for ADHD, so the treatments provided are designed to make everyday life more manageable. Remember that medication should never be offered without counselling or other behavioural interventions.
If you or your loved one may be suffering from ADHD, finding help is extremely important. The demanding and trying nature of the condition can make life difficult if it isn’t managed effectively, so therapy is essential. We know you’re going through a difficult time, and you don’t have to struggle through it alone. We’re here to help you.
For more information about our costs for ADHD counselling services please see the about us page.