Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a condition that affects the brain. It can mean people find it hard to concentrate or regulate their emotions, or they are hyperactive or behave impulsively.

ADHD is most commonly diagnosed in children. But there’s an increasing number of adults being diagnosed with it too.

Our member Anita Watkins says: “ADHD can impact mental health and wellbeing in so many areas of a person’s life. Each person is unique in how it feels for them.”

While treatment for ADHD often involves medication, counselling can play a huge part in helping people come to terms with their diagnosis and cope with how the condition impacts on their lives.

Anita adds: “A safe, supported space can allow a person to connect with who they really are and this can be hugely empowering.”

What’s the difference between ADD and ADHD?

ADD is now considered an outdated term. It stands for Attention Deficit Disorder and used to refer to the elements of ADHD that involve struggling to pay attention.

Now ADHD is split into three categories: ADHD primarily inattentive, ADHD primarily hyperactive or impulsive, or ADHD combined type – which is the largest group.

What are the symptoms of ADHD?

The first key symptom is inattention. This includes finding it hard to concentrate and becoming easily distracted. The second is hyperactivity.

Children and adults with ADHD may talk a lot and interrupt others. They may do or say things without thinking.

Many people with ADHD may have what’s known as 'executive dysfunction'. This covers a range of emotional, behavioural and reasoning difficulties that can affect planning, problem-solving, organisation and time management. They may also struggle to regulate their emotions or over-think things.

If you notice these symptoms are interfering with your or your child’s everyday life, then it may be time to seek professional help.

How can ADHD affect mental health and wellbeing?

ADHD can have a big impact on people’s mental health. They may also have anxiety and depression and some people who have it can be prone to addictions.

Anita says: “There’s often a deep feeling of self-doubt, of not fitting in, of not being accepted or not being good enough. These are based on the negative beliefs attached to difficult experiences and poor interactions that an individual has had, based on how the brain functions with ADHD.”

School, further education, work and relationships can all present difficulties for people with ADHD – which can then impact on their self-esteem.

Anita adds: “People can often feel stressed, burnt out and inadequate. They frequently find their emotions difficult to manage.”

How can counselling help with ADHD?

Counselling can help you learn how to cope with ADHD and with the feelings that result from it. It can encourage you to think more positively about yourself.

“Counselling following diagnosis can be crucial in helping a client to understand, adjust to and accept this newly discovered part of their being,” says Anita.

“They often feel a sense of loss - in experiences that have been missed or damaged, or relationships that have broken down. There may be a sense of regret and failure as a result of their inabilities to interact in appropriate ways.

“The trust that builds within the therapeutic relationship is possibly the first time the client feels safe to be their real self, without judgment or expectation.”

Counselling can be particularly helpful for adults who have struggled with ADHD symptoms for a long time before being diagnosed. 

But it’s important to find a counsellor who has specialist training in the condition. Anita says: “It’s a complex condition, requiring knowledge, understanding and belief that the therapist can help the client to become the best version of themselves.”

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