Though we believe there is a propensity within the medical profession to over-diagnose ADHD (Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) reliable population surveys suggest that 5% of children and 2.5% of adults over the age of 18 suffer from the condition. As our centre deals almost exclusively with Adult ADHD, the following brief overview is based on our work within this group.
Numerous symptoms feature in the profile of the individual suffering from ADHD and no two people display identical characteristics though broadly speaking, the three essential diagnostic features of the condition are inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity:
Inattention: Wandering off task, lacking persistence, having difficulty sustaining focus and being disorganised without being defiant or lacking comprehension.
Hyperactivity: Excessive motor activity when it is not appropriate or excessive fidgeting, tapping, talkativeness or extreme restlessness.
Impulsivity: Undertaking hasty actions that occur in the moment without forethought and that have high potential for harm to the individual. Impulsivity may reflect a desire for immediate rewards or an inability to delay gratification. Impulsive behaviours may manifest as social intrusiveness (eg: interrupting others excessively) and/or making important decisions without consideration of long-term consequences.
What causes ADHD?
There are conflicting theories concerning the causes of ADHD. The most common belief is that it is caused by an insufficient supply of the neurotransmitter dopamine. Because of this, stimulant drugs (of which more later) are used to increase dopamine levels, though it is still pretty much up in the air as to what part the brain and nervous system actually play in producing ADHD symptoms. Parenting can also be a factor. There is some evidence to suggest that ADHD is a genetic condition. We see a number of people who have a family history of ADHD though there may also be a “learned” component at play where the child mirrors the actions of the ADHD parent so as to unwittingly assume the condition. A history of sleep disturbance, childbirth complications, environmental conditions, poor diet, medical conditions (in particular, Fibromyalgia) have all been sited as possible causes of ADHD. Some people are so deeply concerned with their condition and how others may perceive it, particularly friends, acquaintances and work colleagues, they simply deny to themselves that there is anything wrong, despite all the evidence to the contrary. This self-denial can have such harmful emotional consequences that, as a coping strategy it should be avoided at all costs. Remember, there is no shame in having ADHD!
Typical coping mechanisms often include adopting a set physical exercise regime, finding time in the day to be alone, creating a system during the day to prioritise responsibilities, breaking down tasks into manageable portions, implementing deadlines for life and work projects, and joining Adult ADHD forums. For further information on how to cope with the condition, two sites that some of our clients have found helpful and which provide a wealth of information on Adult ADHD are aadduk.org (UK) and adhdandyou.com (USA). A personal favourite of ours at NLSMC is www.playattention.com.
An ADHD coach can be a useful resource, particularly when you are first diagnosed with the condition. A coach may ask you to accept the five-stage grieving process as a means of coming to terms with and accepting your condition. This involves overcoming the shock of recognition - realising that you actually have ADHD, then being angry at the unfairness of it all before denying that you have the condition then believing that it may be temporary or that it will just go away, followed by despair at the discovery that it is a reality and will not just disappear of its own accord. The grieving process ends with acceptance: “I have the condition - now let me find ways of dealing with it” Utilising the services of an Adult ADHD coach is a worthwhile avenue to investigate. She will implement numerous coping strategies that are bound to be of some help though (like life coaches) she will probably view the therapeutic process as a long-term solution. Because of this, coaching can be expensive as well as leading to too much dependence on the therapist when, we believe, you can be taught to be your own therapist, a central part of the treatment programme we offer anyone who visits our centre, no matter which disorder they may currently be suffering from.
We make clear our opposition to psychotropic drugs throughout this site. Many of the clients we first see at our centre are spiralling out of control with their prescribed medication and the damaging side effects they are continually experiencing and want to end their dependence. For them, medication is clearly doing far more harm than good. Saying this, and keeping within the bounds of objectivity, it is only fair for us to point out that a significant number of people we see with Adult ADHD take prescribed medications and do not suffer from any of the principal or associated side effects. If they do, these symptoms tend to be minimal and have little impact on the effectiveness of the treatment. Though we are concerned with the long-term consequences of administering any type of psychotropic drug, if it helps you to lead a normal life, it is not for us to offer any criticism. In any case, as a person with Adult ADHD, if you are coping well with the help of prescribed medications, you probably would not be reading this page in the first place. Medication for ADHD falls into two categories:
First line stimulants sub-categorised into Methylphenidate (the generic name for Ritalin) and Amphetamine.
Second line non-stimulant medications, principally Atomoxetine (brand name Strattera) which is an anti-depressive.
Without any doubt, our experience in treating clients addicted to Ritalin backs statements made by the Drug Enforcement Administration (US Department of Justice) that it has a “high potential for abuse leading to psychological or physical dependence” Common side-effects when taking Ritalin include agitation, anxiety, irritability, insomnia, migraines, nausea, dizziness and heart palpitations whilst Strattera induces nausea, loss of appetite, insomnia and fatigue. We view it as no co-incidence that a significant amount of the people we treat for addictions, principally cannabis and alcohol abuse, were diagnosed with ADD/ADHD as children and put on medicine-based treatment programmes which, as a result, initiated a lifetime of dependency The unique treatment plan we have put in place is designed to move you away from reliance on these drugs but it is important for us to state that we will not advocate you doing so during the six-session programme. Rapid withdrawal from any psychotropic drug is dangerous and we would never advise such a course of action in the short term. Our reasoning behind this will be fully explained to you during the Initial Consultation.
Our treatment programme:
The Initial consultation enables the therapist to get an insight into how the condition of ADHD/ADD is affecting your life, allowing him to formulate and develop a programme that is fully tailored to your specific requirements. A combination of techniques drawn from Psycho-cybernetics, CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) Neuro-linguistic Programming, Gestalt psychology and Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) are all combined with the application of the most important aspect of the treatment programme, hypnotherapy. If, in particular you are suffering principally with hyperactivity and inattentiveness, you may think it extremely difficult to allow yourself to drift into a state of deep relaxation, an essential part of the hypnotherapeutic procedure. Previously, you may have tried meditating or self-hypnosis and found that your mind wandered to such a degree that you became frustrated with the process. This is understandable and tends to be the primary concern of many Adult ADHD sufferers who visit our centre for the first time.
We address these concerns by issuing a series of short, tailor-made recordings that accompany the live hypnosis sessions providing a unique combination of sensory and audio experiences, fine tuned over the years with invaluable feedback from our clients.
North London Stress Management Centre (NLSMC) therapists are British Association for Performing Arts Medicine registered practitioners. NLSMC is a member of the National Register of Hypnotherapists and Psychotherapists, a UK Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP) member.