Treatment for Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

Mental Health Outpatient Treatment for Adults with ADHD

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a developmental disorder associated with a pattern of inattention, hyperactivity and/or impulsivity and affects about 4.4% of adults. People with ADHD are considered neurodivergent, meaning their brain processes information and stimuli differently than what is considered neurotypical. ADHD is associated with a lack of dopamine, the neurotransmitter that regulates feelings of pleasure and attention spans. ADHD also affects communication between areas of the brain that are in charge of executive function. Executive functioning provides the ability to plan, make decisions, reason, and shift attention and focus. ADHD derails executive function, making it difficult or nearly impossible for people with ADHD to accomplish tasks regardless of desire.

ADHD can be mild, moderate or severe, and people can be diagnosed with inattentive ADHD, hyperactivity/impulsivity ADHD or combination ADHD.

Symptoms of Inattentive ADHD:

  • Errors because of inattention, such as careless mistakes and missed details
  • Excessive daydreaming
  • Difficulty staying focused
  • Easily distracted
  • Difficulty listening or paying attention when others speak to you
  • Difficulty organizing and prioritizing
  • Trouble following through and completing tasks
  • Dislike or avoidance of tedious work, such as chores, homework or busywork
  • Forgetful or absentminded in your daily routine
  • Prone to losing, misplacing or forgetting things

Symptoms of Hyperactivity/Impulsivity ADHD:

  • Frequent fidgeting, such as bouncing a leg or playing with a pen
  • Restlessness, which in adults may present as feeling uncomfortable being still
  • Difficulty staying seated when it’s expected
  • Trouble doing things you enjoy quietly
  • Constant or excessive talking
  • Lack of conversational self-restraint such as revealing “too much” personal information or interrupting the person speaking
  • High activity level or high energy
  • Problems with reading situational social boundaries
  • Struggles with being patient for your turn

Combined ADHD is diagnosed when a person presents six symptoms from both inattentive ADHD and hyperactivity/impulsive ADHD.

Treating ADHD may include:

  • Medication: ADHD is most commonly treated with stimulant medication, such as Adderall or Ritalin. Stimulant medications are schedule II/controlled substances, which require regular check-ins with the prescribing doctor and should not be quit abruptly. There are also non-stimulant medications, and people with ADHD often require an antidepressant or treatment for anxiety.
  • Psychotherapy: Talk therapy involves several sessions over a period of time with a mental health professional. This process helps identify and change emotions, thoughts and behaviors that may contribute to increased symptoms of ADHD and their severity. There are many psychotherapy modalities, including cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) and more. Therapy can include individual, group and/or family therapy.
  • Holistic therapies: Holistic therapies can be used in tandem with any other treatment methods. These may include yoga, mindfulness and meditation practices, equine therapy, massage and more.

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