Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a neuropsychiatric developmental disorder, which although frequently diagnosed during childhood, often persists into adulthood. This disorder mainly affects the executive functions, that is, the abilities that allow us to plan, organise and complete tasks.
ADHD has three basic characteristics that globally affects the social, emotional and cognitive development of an affected individual:
In order to evaluate whether an individual suffers from ADHD, it is necessary to use psychological tests designed to measure the symptoms related to ADHD. The tests focus on measuring the individual’s attentional processes, but it is also necessary to evaluate the individual’s performance in the areas of memory, intelligence, processing speed, self-control or self-regulation, reasoning, and problem solving, among others.In addition to the specialised tests used to assess ADHD, it is also necessary for the psychiatrist or psychologist to perform observation evaluations, interviews with parents and teachers, and symptom checks.
ADHD treatment can be divided into 2 broad areas: biological treatment and psychological treatment.
Biological treatment refers mainly to psychiatric medication. Psychiatrists can prescribe and monitor medicines used for ADHD, both stimulants and non-stimulants. However, rules about medication vary by country. In the UK for example, medication is recommended as a first-line treatment for adults, but is only recommended for severe ADHD in children. In contrast, in the United States, medication is recommended for all ages.
Psychiatrists prescribe ADHD medications when necessary for patients, and also fine-tune the medication type, dose, and preparation for the individual. This approach can reduce or eliminate side effects. While medications do not cure ADHD, they can significantly improve the symptoms for about 80 percent of people with ADHD, helping them function in the daily life.
Psychologists, counselors, social workers and therapists can help children and parents understand ADHD and develop strategies to reduce the symptoms and improve their daily life of those who suffer from ADHD. Behavioural and cognitive therapies have showed good results in the treatment of inattention for ADHD, and these are usually the first line therapies recommended for those with mild symptoms or for younger children. Other psychological therapies include cognitive behavioural therapy, family therapy, school interventions, social skills training, parent management training and interpersonal psychotherapy.Psychologists need to work closely with teachers and school counselors to plan support and interventions at school if the effects of ADHD on a child’s performance are to be minimised.
If you think you or your child are suffering from symptoms of ADHD, you should seek further assessment from a doctor and discuss what sort of treatment might be helpful.
Come see us at our Tokyo psychiatry clinic at American Clinic Tokyo in Akasaka for assessment. Dr Andrew Kissane, our UK-trained, British psychiatrist is a native English speaker. He is on the General Medical Council’s specialist medical register in the UK, is a member of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, and holds a Japanese medical license.If you wish to have a complete evaluation and assessment for ADHD, please email us requesting our psychological testing service at our Ginza 1-chome office.