ADHD Counseling for Adolescents and Adults
Finding success with ADHD/ADD is a big process of tuning your life. Some of the things we can help with are mindfulness, medications, nutrition, exercise, improved stress management tools, sleep, and more.
What is ADHD?
ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) is characterized by distractibility, impulsivity and restlessness or hyperactivity. Considered a neurological condition, it is genetically transmissible. Symptoms are present from childhood on however some symptoms such as inattentiveness, may be more prominent in girls than in boys. The intensity of symptoms falls on a spectrum. Symptoms can worsen due to a variety of influences like hormonal changes or stress. They can also improve with regular fitness and adequate sleep.
ADHD is considered a disability primarily because of the impact the condition can have on executive functioning which we rely heavily upon to succeed in today’s society. For example, neurons in the prefrontal region of the frontal lobe are involved in processes such as planning, integrating information, modulating behavior and emotional responses and prioritization. People with ADHD CAN focus sometimes to a fault, and a fair number are not hyperactive.
Diagnosis is primarily made by a thorough interview and determining whether specific ADHD symptoms have been present throughout one’s history. In establishing a proper diagnosis, it is also important to address whether other conditions may be present such as depression, anxiety, PTSD and learning disabilities. Sometimes a neuropyschological evaluation can be helpful as a tool to aid in the diagnosis of conditions.
We like to use the Hallowell Method in formulating a well-rounded ‘treatment’ program. Dr. Hallowell is a leading expert in the field of ADHD and author of landmark books on the topic such as Delivered from Distraction. The Hallowell Method is a positive, strengths based approach which is comprehensive. The program addresses:
- Obtaining an accurate diagnosis taking into account the likelihood of coexisting problems
- Education and self-awareness
- Achieving a healthy lifestyle
- Creating external structure
- Counseling of some kind like coaching
- Non-medicinal therapies such as LENS, a special form of neurofeedback and supplements such as omega 3 fatty acids
- Pharmaceutical intervention
Types of ADD/ADHD
There are three variations of ADHD, depending on which symptoms are strongest in an individual. These descriptions are taken from the CDC:
- Predominantly Inattentive Type: It is hard for the individual to organize or finish a task, to pay attention to details, or to follow instructions or conversations. The person is easily distracted or forgets details of daily routines.
- Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive Type: The person fidgets and talks a lot. It is hard to sit still for long (e.g., for a meal or while doing homework). Smaller children may run, jump or climb constantly. The individual feels restless and has trouble with impulsivity. Someone who is impulsive may interrupt others a lot, grab things from people, or speak at inappropriate times. It is hard for the person to wait their turn or listen to directions. A person with impulsiveness may have more accidents and injuries than others.
- Combined Type: Symptoms of the above two types are equally present in the person.
ADD/ADHD in Adults
If you have exhibited at least twelve of the following behaviors since childhood and if these symptoms are not associated with any other medical or psychiatric condition, consider an evaluation by a team of AD/HD professionals:
- A sense of underachievement, of not meeting one’s goals (regardless of how much one has actually accomplished).
- Difficulty getting organized.
- Chronic procrastination or trouble getting started.
- Many projects going simultaneously; trouble with follow through.
- A tendency to say what comes to mind without necessarily considering the timing or appropriateness of the remark.
- A frequent search for high stimulation.
- An intolerance of boredom. Easy distractibility; trouble focusing attention, tendency to tune out or drift away in the middle of a page or conversation, often coupled with an inability to focus at times.
- Often creative, intuitive, highly intelligent
- Trouble in going through established channels and following “proper” procedure.
- Impatient; low tolerance of frustration.
- Impulsive, either verbally or in action, as an impulsive spending of money.
- Changing plans, enacting new schemes or career plans and the like; hot-tempered.
- A tendency to worry needlessly, endlessly; a tendency to scan the horizon looking for something to worry about, alternating with attention to or disregard for actual dangers.
- A sense of insecurity.
- Mood swings, mood lability, especially when disengaged from a person or a project.
- Physical or cognitive restlessness.
- A tendency toward addictive behavior.
- Chronic problems with self-esteem.
- Inaccurate self-observation.
- Family history of AD/HD or manic depressive illness or depression or substance abuse or other disorders of impulse control or mood.