People with symptoms of hyperactivity may:
- seem agitated or nervous
- be unable to sit still and concentrate
- talk non-stop without being aware of their surroundings
- have rapid thoughts or be unable to stop thinking
- have sleep problems.
Some people with ADHD may have symptoms of impulsivity.
- start things and not finish them
- not consider the consequences of their actions
- interrupt other people
- take over what someone else is doing
- have problems with money
- change jobs frequently
- use drugs or alcohol
- have a hot temper or be irritable.
You don’t need to have all these symptoms to be diagnosed with ADHD.
Often, people with ADHD feel quite frustrated and can become anxious or depressed at not being able to achieve their full potential.
Sleep problems and relationship issues can be the reason that people initially seek treatment.
If symptoms are affecting your daily life, work or relationships you should seek help.
Getting help for ADHD
As a first step, see your GP (family doctor).
A GP can assess your symptoms and write you a referral to see a psychiatrist or clinical psychologist if you need it.
First steps to get help
Diagnosis of ADHD
A diagnosis of ADHD in an adult is usually made by a psychiatrist who is experienced in the field.
Diagnosis might involve:
- tests of your thinking (psychological tests)
- a physical check-up that might involve testing your heart, blood tests or a brain scan (if needed)
- questions about your childhood
- an interview with a partner, parent or close friend about your behaviour
- review of documents like old school reports.
Generally, adults are only diagnosed with ADHD if there is evidence that they had symptoms as a child.
Symptoms also have to be present in more than one situation (for example at work and at home) and affect daily life.
How is ADHD managed?
Recommended treatment for adults with ADHD involves:
- behavioural training and coaching
- education about your condition.
Stimulant medication is known to help people with ADHD to focus and complete tasks. Medication is used to support other changes to your lifestyle and behaviour.
The two main stimulant medications used for ADHD are methylphenidate and dexamphetamine. These medications can be addictive, but in the doses used to treat ADHD they usually aren’t.
If you are unable to use stimulants, the non-stimulant medication used in Australia is atomoxetine.
You might be prescribed other medications to help with sleep problems or other symptoms.
More about medications
Behavioural training and coaching
Behaviour therapy, ADHD coaching and mentoring will help you to deal with the symptoms of ADHD.
This usually involves practical advice on organising your work or home, planning ahead, social skills and working to your strengths.
Psychologists with experience managing ADHD can be helpful. There are also a small number of accredited ADHD coaches in Australia.
Your GP or psychiatrist can help you to find the right person to talk to.
Learning about ADHD will help you to identify your own set of symptoms and ways to manage them.