Attention deficit disorder (ADD) and attention deficit hyperactivity (ADHD) is the most common behavioural disorder in the UK. It's unknown exactly how many people have the condition, but most estimates suggest if affects around 2-5% of school-aged children and young people (1) These individuals are generally described as being overactive, whilst exhibiting difficulties in concentration.
ADD / ADHD is a serious condition that will markedly affect most areas of a person’s life, including home, school and friends. The symptoms will also affect those around the child causing stress, possible depression, and may seriously disrupt family life.
Children with ADD / ADHD tend to be of normal intelligence and will commonly exhibit the following symptoms. These symptoms will be extreme and will have been obvious since early age:
- Restlessness and over activity.
- Fidgety, chatty, interrupting people and intruding in conversations
- Insatiability - Constantly going on and on about a subject. In some cases this mayappear to be almost like an interrogation.
- Easily distracted and do not finish things
- Inattentive and cannot concentrate on tasks, especially those that need thinking through.
- Poor co-ordination
- Impulsivity - Suddenly doing things without thinking first
- Unable to wait their turn in conversations, queues, games etc.
Associated symptoms that may also be present:
- Slow in learning to talk
- Finding reading difficult
- Think they are stupid and not good at complex tasks
- Finding difficulty in making new friends
- General bad behaviour (2)
THE CAUSES OF ADD / ADHD
The causes of ADD / ADHD are still unknown. Recent research has suggested that the following factors appear to play an important role:
ADD /ADHD is known to run in families, with more boys than girls being affected.
Studies have suggested that ADD / ADHD children show under activity in the prefrontal cortex The prefrontal cortex has important connections with other parts of the brain and is the area of the brain that's believed to control 'executive functions'.
Executive functions are specific mental activities that allow self-control. The core symptoms of ADHD - hyperactivity, impulsiveness and inattention - may all arise due to problems with executive functions. (3)
However, ADD/ADHD is a highly controversial psychological disorder. Debates centre around whether ADHD is a mental illness/disability or whether it is merely a neurological description of a normal condition. In addition, some professionals and many members of the public are concerned about diagnosing and medicating children.
If you are concerned about whether your child has ADD/ADHD it is advisable to consult with your GP and/or another medical professional. Full diagnosis of ADD / ADHD requires specialist assessment as there may be other causes for the symptoms.
ADD / ADHD in adults
Adults with ADD / ADHD show similar symptoms to children. However, the symptoms may also include:
- A frequent search for high stimulation
- Intolerance of boredom
- Excessive anxiety
- Mood swings
- Addictive behaviour
- Low self-esteem
In some cases, drugs that act as stimulants may be prescribed. These will stimulate the under active areas of the brain, allowing the child to improve their concentration. This, in turn, will enable the child to learn how to control their thinking and behaviour.
Once appropriate control and behaviour have been learned then the drugs may be withdrawn.
Common drugs include:
i) Ritalin (methylphenidate)
ii) Dexedrine (dextroamphetamine sulphate)
Both of these drugs are derivatives of amphetamine and are relatively short acting (3 - 4 hours).
In severe cases drugs such as antidepressants may also be given to treat other symptoms.
Dietary changes should be considered, especially if the child is sensitive to certain foods. These changes must be assessed and implemented by a paediatric dietician.
Certain common sense changes can be made by parents, for example reducing the consumption of caffeine containing drinks, reducing the consumption of sweets and other artificial sugars, reducing the consumption of drinks high in artificial colourants etc.The child can be encouraged to enjoy eating and drinking natural foods
Hypnotherapy for ADD / ADHD in Salisbury and Bath
Studies have shown that hypnotherapy can significantly help the ADD / ADHD adult or child to:
- Lower anxiety
- Develop strategies for controlling tantrums
- Improve concentration
- Improve social relationships and modify attitudes towards learning and school (4)
If you would like to use this approach to either manage your own ADD / ADHD or support your child in developing ways of improving their focus and confidence, please do give me a call to discuss the situation.
Hypnotherapy should be used in conjunction with other interventions prescribed by your GP or other medical professional.
1. Statistic from NHS Choices website.
2. The American Psychiatric Association (2000) DSM-IV-TR: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders The American Psychiatric Association
3. From Netdoctor website
4. Arnold LE (1999) Treatment alternatives for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) Journal of Attention Disorders 3 (1): 30-48