Are You Paying Attention? Identifying Inattention vs. ADHD

This is a very helpful article from modern therapy. Modern therapy is a group of mental health therapists and psychologists who provide great counseling.
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Are You Paying Attention? Identifying Inattention vs. ADHD

Distracted during an important meeting? Cannot focus on what your partner is saying due to that leaky faucet? Sensory overload. You need to get up and move around or do something to get your mind back on track. You joke with others that it is your ADHD acting up, but do you really have ADHD?

Struggling with concentration or sitting still does not mean you necessarily have ADHD. In fact, problems with attention and feelings of restlessness can exist in many situations such as:

–       Depression

–       Anxiety

–       Boring meetings or classes

–       Cognitive problems

–       Feeling stressed

–       Adjusting to change

–       Many others! 

When considering ADHD, yes you cannot concentrate, sit still, and tend to act without thinking. However, ADHD compared to someone without, shows structural changes to the anatomy of the brain as well as differences in brain activity. Differences include areas of the brain that control patience, judgment, cognitive flexibility, attention, and impulsivity. The problem is, these differences can look like other conditions and there is variation across those brains that do have ADHD.

Subtypes of ADHD

There are also two subtypes of ADHD, and it is possible to have both. The inattention subtype focuses on concentration with symptoms such as difficulty completing tasks that require reorganization, making careless mistakes and doing sloppy work, being easily distracted, or frequently forgetting things amongst others. The hyperactive-impulsive subtype relates to problems remaining calm and/or reacting before thinking with symptoms including problems remaining seated, fidgeting and squirming a lot, acting recklessly, and interrupting others in conversations, amongst other symptoms.

Being diagnosed with ADHD isn’t as easy as identifying with some of the symptoms above. It’s best to make an appointment with a psychiatrist so a thorough evaluation can be completed. You may even seek formal testing from a neuropsychologist.

ADHD VS Inattention

The difference between struggles concentrating and sitting still versus ADHD is that ADHD symptoms do not come and go. It’s normal to have moments where we have excessive energy, don’t make the best decision, or struggle to focus, however, those with ADHD experience severe symptoms daily. Additionally, for those with ADHD, symptoms typically start before the age of 12, even if diagnosed as an adult. Symptoms for those with ADHD impact daily functioning leading to difficulty at work and/or school and within relationships.

So how do you tell the difference between ADHD and something else? Well, a lot of information gathering and clinical judgment is needed. Attention problems can also be linked to depression, psychosis, anxiety, mania, and stress. Often, once the mood piece is treated, concentration improves as well. Those abusing substances also experience challenges with concentration, however, if they stop using, concentration improves over time. Cognitive problems can also have symptoms such as attention, however, symptoms such as memory challenges and difficulty with self-care also tend to accompany this.

ADHD is very treatable as are anxiety, depression, and others. If you have concerns about the symptoms above, it is best to seek a consultation from a licensed therapist or psychiatrist to discuss these concerns versus self-diagnosing over the internet.
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