a group of friends distracted on their cell phones

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a brain development disorder that affects both children and adults. Difficulty paying attention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity characterize it. ADHD can have a significant impact on daily life, including school, work, and relationships. In this article, we’re going to find out about ADHD—what it is, the usual signs, how doctors figure it out, ways to deal with it, and how therapy helps make it better.

What is Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder?

ADHD is a kind of brain condition that affects the part of your brain in charge of planning, organizing, and stopping impulsive actions. This part is called the prefrontal cortex. It is a chronic condition that can last into adulthood, although symptoms may change over time.

The Difference Between ADD and ADHD

ADD primarily involves difficulties in sustaining attention and staying focused on tasks. Individuals with ADD may struggle with completing assignments or following through on activities.

ADHD, on the other hand, encompasses two main types: inattentive and hyperactive-impulsive. The inattentive type shares similarities with ADD, involving challenges in concentration. The hyperactive-impulsive type involves excessive energy, impulsive actions, and difficulty in controlling impulses.

Attention Disorders in Canada

ADHD and ADD are some of the most common brain development disorders in Canada. A study by the National Library of Medicine estimates more than 5% of children and adults are estimated to have ADHD.

The Common Symptoms of ADHD

The most usual signs of ADHD are not being able to pay good attention, being super active and impulsive, having a mix of these, or different versions of each.

Inattention Symptoms

Difficulty Paying Attention

People with attention disorders often struggle to stay focused on tasks, particularly those that require sustained attention or are not stimulating enough.

Easily Distracted

They often become distracted by unrelated thoughts or things happening around them, which makes it hard for them to finish what they’re doing.

Poor Organization

Difficulty with organizing tasks, time management, and keeping track of personal belongings or responsibilities.

Forgetfulness

Frequent forgetfulness of daily activities, appointments, or obligations.

Difficulty Following Instructions

Difficulty in following through on instructions, especially if they are lengthy or complex.

Hyperactivity-Impulsivity Symptoms:

Hyperactivity

Restlessness may appear as frequent fidgeting, tapping, or struggling to stay seated when expected.

Impulsivity

Acting without thinking, blurting out answers before questions are complete, or having difficulty waiting their turn.

Talking Excessively

Tendency to talk too much or interrupt others in conversations.

Risk-Taking Behavior

A preference for engaging in risky activities without considering potential consequences.

It’s important to note that attention-deficit/hyperactivity symptoms can vary in intensity and presentation. Some individuals may mostly display inattention symptoms, while others may exhibit primarily hyperactivity-impulsivity symptoms. Additionally, these symptoms should be pervasive and interfere with daily functioning to warrant an attention disorder diagnosis. Physicians and health professionals should carry out diagnosis and treatment.

How are Attention Disorders Diagnosed in Canada?

In Canada, diagnosing ADHD typically involves several key steps.

Initial Assessment

Contact a doctor to discuss concerns about ADHD symptoms. They will conduct an initial evaluation and may gather information from parents, teachers, or other relevant sources.

Comprehensive Assessment

If someone suspects you have ADHD, a specialist, like a psychiatrist or psychologist, will conduct a comprehensive evaluation. They’ll talk with you a bunch, look at your medical history, and use regular scales to figure out your symptoms.

Rule Out Other Conditions

The healthcare provider will rule out other medical or psychological conditions that could mimic ADHD symptoms. This step is crucial to ensure an accurate diagnosis.

Observation

Watching how someone acts in different places, like school or work, helps check if they might have attention and hyperactivity issues.

Formal Diagnosis

If you have ADHD, the doctor will officially inform you and determine the type based on their evaluation findings. The types of ADHD are Inattentive, Hyperactive-Impulsive, or Combined.

Treatment Planning

Once diagnosed, the healthcare provider will work with the individual and their family to develop a personalized treatment plan. This plan may include behavioural interventions, medication, psychotherapy, or a combination of these approaches.

Ongoing Monitoring

We’ll set up regular check-ins to see how you’re doing, adjust the treatment if needed, and assist you with any attention challenges. It’s crucial to see doctors who understand ADHD in Canada to get the right diagnosis and treatment and make sure you get the help you need.

What Causes ADHD

ADHD is likely caused by a mix of factors:

  • Genetics (inherited traits from family)
  • Differences in brain wiring
  • Environmental influences (like a chaotic home or school environment)

It’s not anyone’s fault but a combination of these things that affect how the brain works, making it harder to focus and control impulses.

a girl with adhd practising being present.

How to Manage Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

Although there’s no cure for ADHD, different treatments are there to help control symptoms and make daily life better. These may include:

ADHD Therapy

Therapy can be an essential component of managing ADHD. It can help individuals develop coping strategies and improve executive functioning skills. Some types of therapy that may be beneficial for those with attention-deficit/hyperactivity include:

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT): a type of therapy that focuses on changing negative thought patterns and behaviors
  • Behavioural therapy: a type of therapy that uses positive reinforcement to encourage desired behaviours
  • Family therapy: a type of therapy that involves the whole family in treatment to improve communication and relationships
  • Support groups: a group setting where individuals with ADHD can share experiences and learn from others

Lifestyle Changes

Making certain lifestyle changes can also help manage attention disorder symptoms. These may include:

  • Establishing a routine and sticking to it
  • Breaking tasks into smaller, more manageable steps
  • Using a planner or calendar to stay organized
  • Getting regular exercise and physical activity
  • Eating a healthy, balanced diet
  • Getting enough sleep
  • Limiting screen time and other distractions

Medication

Doctors commonly prescribe stimulant medications, such as Ritalin and Adderall, to treat attention disorders. These medicines work by boosting dopamine and norepinephrine levels in the brain, helping with focus and lowering hyperactivity and impulsivity. Doctors may also prescribe non-stimulant medications, such as Strattera, to those who do not respond well to stimulants.

A Combination of Treatments

At Steyaert Counselling, our integrated approach recognizes the unique needs of each individual. Our experienced team collaborates with clients to implement personalized strategies, ensuring a holistic and effective attention-deficit/hyperactivity management plan. By combining lifestyle adjustments, medication, and therapy, individuals can cultivate the skills and resilience needed to navigate life with an attention disorder successfully.

ADHD in Therapy

Therapy can be an effective treatment for ADHD, both on its own and in combination with medication. Here are some ways therapy can help individuals with ADHD:

Developing Coping Strategies

Therapy can help individuals with attention-deficit/hyperactivity develop coping strategies to manage their symptoms. These may include techniques for improving focus, managing impulsivity, and reducing hyperactivity. A therapist can also help individuals identify triggers that may worsen their symptoms and develop strategies to manage them.

Improving Executive Functioning Skills

Individuals with ADHD often struggle with executive functioning skills, such as planning, organization, and time management. Therapy can help individuals develop these skills through techniques such as setting goals, breaking tasks into smaller steps, and using visual aids.

Addressing Co-occurring Conditions

Many individuals with ADHD also have co-occurring conditions, such as anxiety, depression, or learning disabilities. Therapy can teach people useful skills like setting goals, breaking tasks into smaller steps, and using visual aids.

Improving Relationships

ADHD can have a significant impact on relationships, both at home and at work. Therapy can help individuals with attention-deficit/hyperactivity improve communication and develop strategies for managing conflict and improving relationships.

Common Therapeutic Approaches Used for Therapy for Attention Deficit Disorder

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) is a way of working on thoughts and actions. We help individuals recognize and change negative thoughts, improving how they manage behaviours connected to attention disorders.

Mindfulness-Based Therapies

Mindfulness-based methods, like Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) or Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), can help you pay better attention and manage your feelings.

Family Therapy

Family plays a significant role. We include family members in sessions to improve understanding and communication. This support network is vital for individuals navigating ADHD.

ADHD Coaching

ADHD coaching is like having a personal guide. Coaches offer practical strategies for daily tasks, setting and achieving goals, and staying focused amidst distractions. A therapist can help you learn how to be good at social skills, improve planning and organizing, or use things like reward systems and consequences to encourage good behaviour.

Conclusion

Though there’s no cure for ADHD, many treatments can help control symptoms and enhance daily life. Getting a professional diagnosis and creating a thorough treatment plan—maybe using medication, therapy, and lifestyle adjustments—can support individuals with ADHD in leading fulfilling lives.

If you or a loved one is struggling with ADHD, don’t hesitate to seek help and support. With the right treatment and support, individuals with attention-deficit/hyperactivity can thrive and reach their full potential.

Steyaert Counselling’s Approach to ADHD Therapy

By understanding attention disorders and their root cause. We can understand why certain behaviours occur in someone with this disorder. Getting a doctor’s help and making a good plan—maybe with medicine, therapy, and lifestyle changes—can help people with ADHD live happy lives. Book an appointment with Hannah at our London office or Hailey at our Burlington office today.

ADHD Therapy in London, Ontario

Hannah has worked with dozens of patients experiencing ADHD symptoms and has seen tremendous success with her clients in managing and mitigating their symptoms. Don’t hesitate to contact her office in East London, Ontario, for more information.

ADHD Therapy in Burlington, Ontario

Hailey is considered to be an ADHD Therapist. She is certified in ADHD and has used her training to work with many clients in therapy sessions. Don’t hesitate to contact her office in Central Burlington, Ontario, for more information.