ADD & ADHD: The Truth of the Matter

Is it ADD? Is it ADHD? Is it depression? Is it anxiety? Or is it something else medically related? These are all valid questions that you have possibly asked yourself or asked about your child at one time or another. It is a difficult diagnosis to pin-point and can often be confused with other diagnoses. It is extremely important try the following steps, in this order, to assess whether or not you might be dealing with ADD/ADHD:

  1. Get a full physical. Rule out any medical issues that could be masquerading as inattention or hyperactivity.
  2. If medical issues are ruled out, seek assessment by a mental health professional. Don't try to diagnosis and/or treat yourself.
  3. If your child is the one displaying ADD/ADHD- like symptoms, speak to his/her teacher, school counselor, principal, and any other school professional that may be involved in your child's education. They can give you insight into what they see in the classroom and what is observed as they interact with peers during the school-day.
  4. Work with your mental health professional to institute an individualized treatment plan to deal with whatever diagnosis is made. If outpatient therapy is not successful, consider being evaluated by a psychiatrist for possible medication management IN ADDITION TO mental health therapy.
  5. Be sure to take care of your physical self as this impacts your emotional and mental well-being. Getting plenty of sleep, eating right, and exercising are all key ingredients to getting any ADD/ADHD-like symptoms under better control.

So, what would symptoms of ADD or ADHD look like? Often times in my practice, I see individuals come in who assume that since they are having trouble concentrating, it might be ADD or ADHD. I carefully evaluate their medical, personal (including mental health, substance abuse, and family), and work history to get a handle on the bigger picture of what we might be looking at as a diagnosis. Sometimes, a diagnosis of ADD or ADHD is deducted from certain combination of hallmark characteristics along with the close assessment of behavioral and emotional health information a client gives. However, sometimes issues as basic as stress, depression, loneliness, grief/loss, or anxiety are truly at the root of what might otherwise be considered ADD/ADHD.

There are a number of checklist symptoms of ADD and ADHD which include:

  • Inattention
  • Difficulty Concentrating
  • Easily Distracted
  • Unable to Sit Still
  • Fidgety
  • Frequently Interrupts
  • Struggle to Complete Tasks
  • Frequent Forgetting
  • No Filter
  • Restless
  • Talk Excessively

Now please note that this is by no means an exhaustive list of symptoms for ADD/ADHD. This article is also not a substitute for professional help. However, if you are needing to find relief from these symptoms while working on yourself between sessions with a therapist and/or appointments with a psychiatrist, you may want try this simple tips:

  • Get Adequate Sleep
  • Keep a Consistent Schedule
  • Take Breaks
  • Get Organized (start color coding, use a journal, use a note pad as a reminder system, etc.)
  • Eat Healthy
  • Exercise (get out excessive energy to assist you in focusing and concentrating through your day)
  • Learn Healthy Communication Skills
  • Use You Support System
  • Relaxation Techniques

Again, this is not an exhaustive list, and more information can be obtained from your therapist or doctor to institute specific treatment options and steps to help you get a better handle on this disorder. Remember that ADD/ADHD is quite common in our extremely busy and high expectation society. It is no wonder that especially if you have a genetic propensity to having ADD/ADHD, that your environment can aggravate it and exacerbate it. Take care though. There is always help that can be located through your school, work, EAP, health insurance, and simple Google searches for the proper treatment professionals.