Psychotherapy for adults (ADHD)
Written by listed counsellor/psychotherapist: Christos Christophy UKCP, BSc, MSc, Dip. Hyp/Psych, MBPsS
24th November, 20140 Comments
ADHD is a neurodevelopmental condition usually diagnosed in childhood. It affects around 2-3% of the population.
If you have ADHD you may find that:
- You get easily distracted, particularly with routine or boring tasks.
- You find it hard to focus on one task at a time and have several things going on at once.
- You find it hard to listen to other people without interrupting them.
- It's hard to follow instructions.
- It is difficult to organise yourself, and you have many unfinished tasks that you started but then abandoned.
- Waiting for things, sitting in meetings or tasks that involve concentration make you feel agitated and impatient.
- You forget things and tend to misplace everyday items such as keys, phones and bags.
- Your mood might fluctuate many times in a short period, and you often find yourself feeling irritable, impatient or frustrated. You may have short bursts of anger.
- You often feel restless or edgy, with hundreds of thoughts flying around your mind and find stress hard to handle.
- You act frequently act on impulse and regret it later. This can include overeating, drinking too much, spending, gambling and taking drugs.
Most of these are common experiences but to have a diagnosis of ADHD the difficulties must be severe enough to interfere significantly with your life across multiple domains such as relationships, work and self-management. The problems would also need to be enduring over time and have been present since childhood. Although ADHD can improve with age, in around 60% of people symptoms continue into adulthood. The over-activity usually gets less, but impulsivity, poor concentration and risk-taking can get worse. Depression, anxiety feelings of low self-esteem and drug misuse are more common in adults with ADHD.
Psychotherapy for adults with ADHD
Although medication is usually the first-line treatment for ADHD and is effective in around 80% of people, psychotherapy is also effective and can have long lasting results. Most clinician agree that a combination of both therapy and medication is preferable. Adults with ADHD are more likely to experience other conditions such as depression, anxiety and substance misuse which is where psychotherapy becomes invaluable. Psychotherapy can also directly improve functioning through learning specific techniques to combat the symptoms. Some studies have shown that where medication was contraindicated, psychotherapy alone has been sufficient in treating ADHD. Coaching is also a commonly used approach in ADHD and some patients find the following helpful:
- Making lists, having diaries, using reminders.
- Intense physical activity/exercise to help burn off energy.
- Yoga, meditation and ways to relax.
About the author
Christos Christophy is a psychotherapist in private practise with a special interest in working with adults with ADHD. He also works for St Mungo's Broadway with dual diagnosis clients.
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