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Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (“ADHD”) is a genetic, neuro-developmental disorder that is diagnosed in both children adults. ADHD is the official, medical term for the condition — regardless of whether a person demonstrates symptoms of hyperactivity. ADD is a now-outdated term that was typically used to describe inattentive-type ADHD.

People with ADHD struggle to focus, prioritize and stay on task. They may be dis-organised, hypersensitive to rejection and struggle with impulse control. Struggling to manage impulses often leads to mood swings and outbursts of anger.

Dealing with someone who has ADHD can be frustrating because often their disorder presents as laziness. They may seem disinterested and will procrastinate and put off important tasks until the last minute, meaning they often miss their deadlines.  

What is interesting about this disorder is that children are correctly diagnosed more often than adults. One of the biggest myths about ADHD is that it is a childhood disorder and that children will eventually grow out of it once they reach adulthood.

There is a high statistic of ADHD adults that are untreated, un-diagnosed or misdiagnosed. This is because the symptoms often look different in adulthood than in childhood. Untreated ADHD can result in a crippling low self-esteem, depression, and anxiety. A lack of awareness, masking the disorder or self-medicating of symptoms can lead to adults developing negative behavior traits like substance abuse.

In his 2012 Burnett Lecture, Dr Russel Barkley stated that “we are under-treating the most treatable disorder in psychiatry”. He highlights that ADHD has the most effective medication on the market. In fact ADHD medications are three times more effective than medications that treat depression and anxiety. Professionals agree that while ADHD can be treated successfully using medicine, it is the combination of medication, life skills training and/or therapy that gives the best result.  

Exercise is an excellent coping skill for people living with ADHD. It has been proven that a single session of exercise can lead to immediate improvements in ADHD symptoms and cognitive functions.

If you would like to support a person who may have ADHD, the first step is to talk to a healthcare provider. Chatting to a healthcare provider about behaviours and symptoms of concern will assist you in finding the right professional to complete the assessment and if relevant assist with a diagnosis and treatment plan.  

There is help available! As Dr Barkley says, ADHD is one of the most treatable disorders in psychiatry at this time.

Written by Anita Butow, Life Coach at The Bell House. Anita is a specialist life coach in the field of ADHD. Find her at