Updated: Oct 2, 2022
Are you or someone you know and love suffering from symptoms such as difficulty initiating tasks, finishing projects, distractibility, loss of focus, difficulty keeping track of possessions and staying organized? Or symptoms such as intolerance of delay, impulse control, and restlessness? These may be signs of ADHD – but read on since diagnosing ADHD has some complexities that ultimately require professional evaluation.
Since ADHD is understood to be neurological, or related to brain functioning, an individual is born with it and therefore symptoms begin in childhood even if they are not always picked up on by adults or caregivers.
Diagnosis of ADHD is complex
Diagnosis of ADHD is based on the number of symptoms such as those listed in the opening paragraph, as well as the intensity/frequency of symptoms.
Unfortunately, diagnosing ADHD is complicated by the fact that other conditions can create very similar symptoms including: depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder, substance abuse, alcohol abuse and learning disabilities.
In order to ensure that another condition doesn’t explain a patient’s symptoms better than ADHD, clinical interviews are conducted in addition to symptom measures.
ADHD often co-occurs with other conditions
Even when ADHD appear to be the primary cause of symptoms, other conditions can and often do co-occur with ADHD. This makes proper assessment even more necessary in order to determine a suitable treatment approach that prioritizes the most challenging symptoms first.
As a counsellor, it is not apart of my practice to diagnose disorders. What I can do is identify symptoms and the severity of symptoms and make a plan to manage those symptoms. This can be done in collaboration with a physician’s oversight over medication or without it.
Although there are medications for ADHD which have been shown to be effective in reducing core symptoms, it is often not sufficient to deal with day to day challenges in functioning.
What this means is that although medication can help a person with ADHD focus better, it does not help with knowing what to focus on. It also does not help with the cognitive part of the condition. Often individuals with ADHD will suffer with challenges such as low self-esteem and other negative thoughts and beliefs based on the impact their symptoms have had on their life.
CBT treatments for ADHD
CBT treatments for ADHD address treatment gaps through medication alone by tackling 3 key areas of challenge in adults with ADHD:
Self management– for example recognizing unhelpful cognitions and learning to replace them; breaking tasks into smaller parts; developing reinforcements that help motivate task completion, using visualization to keep rewards in view, decrease distractors and increase structure that aids successful action
Time management– for example practicing prioritization; developing a habit of using a planner and flow charts
Space management– for example learn to sort, organize and position materials for smooth work flow
I am currently counselling adults and teenagers with ADHD in person at my Nanaimo office or via video or phone call in the province of BC and occasionally in other provinces of Canada. Contact me to book an initial consultation to see if this approach might work for you.