What is ADHD?
Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, is common type of neurodivergence. Neurodivergence describes brain differences that affect how the brain works. People who experience neurodivergence have different strengths and challenges from people whose brains don’t have those differences. Scientists believe that ADHD remains an aspect of neurodivergence due to the unique structure and chemistry of the ADHD brain.
ADHD involves persistent patterns of inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity that interferes with daily functioning. There are three types of ADHD:
1. Predominantly Inattentive: Those with this type of ADHD have difficulty sustaining attention, following through on things and organization. They typically get distracted easily from what they’re doing. This was previously known as ADD.
2. Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive: Those with this type may be very fidgety, talkative, have difficulty sitting still and act on impulses without considering the consequences.
3. Combined presentation: Combination of inattentive and hyperactive-impulsive symptoms.
It’s important to remember that ADHD is a spectrum and those with it may experience symptoms to different degrees that may change over time. No matter what type of ADHD a person experiences, it can, and often does, impact multiple areas of life, including school or work and relationships.
ADHD is often thought of in reference to kids, but ADHD can last into adulthood, and the impact and symptoms may look different than in children. Common aspects of ADHD in adults and include:
1. Inattention: Adults with ADHD may have difficulty focusing on work tasks, managing time and completing projects.
2. Impulsivity: This can be struggling with impulse control in social and professional situations.
3. Hyperactivity: Though hyperactivity tends to decrease in age, adults still may feel the need to fidget, have difficulty sitting still or a constant feeling of being on the go.
4. Time Management and Organization: Adults with ADHD often face challenges in managing time and staying organized, such as difficulty planning and prioritizing tasks, meeting deadlines and completing projects.
5. Forgetfulness: This is a common feature of ADHD and can include forgetting appointments, misplacing items, and remembering to complete important tasks.
6. Relationship Difficulties: Adults with ADHD may have challenges in relationships due to communication issues, emotional regulation and impulsivity.
While adults may have developed coping skills to manage their ADHD symptoms over time, considering different treatments, like EMDR, can be helpful in better managing and coping with symptoms.
EMDR and ADHD
How can EMDR help with ADHD symptoms when EMDR historically developed as a therapy to reduce symptoms of trauma? EMDR, or Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, was not previously a standard treatment for ADHD, but it has been more recently explored as a therapeutic intervention for symptoms. EMDR can be used to target specific symptoms and challenges that are common for those with ADHD. Some potential ways it can be used are:
1. Addressing Anxiety: Those with ADHD often experience higher levels of anxiety. EMDR can help reduce these anxiety symptoms and improve managing and thriving in the face of stress and unwanted emotions.
2. Improving Coping Skills: EMDR can be used to focus on and reinforce positive coping skills to deal with stress, frustration and other challenges related to ADHD. Strengthening these skills gives folks who may be beating themselves up for aspects of their mind they neurologically cannot control with increased control and confidence.
3. Improving Focus and Attention: EMDR can be used to focus on any emotional factors that impact attention and focus. “Taking the edge off” these stressors can improve concentration and reduce the unwanted inattentiveness people with ADHD may experience.
4. Improving Control of Unwanted Emotions, Including Rejection Sensitivity: Individuals with ADHD can struggle with managing unwanted emotions, such as anxiety, stress, or anger. For example, due to differences in brain structure, people with ADHD are more prone to experiencing rejection sensitive dysphoria, or severe emotional pain upon a perception of failing or being rejected. EMDR can assist in gaining confidence and control regarding such experiences due to natural brain differences that present as ADHD.
Because ADHD and its symptoms can differ between individuals, it is helpful to consult a therapist and create an individualized treatment plan that takes into account their unique needs and challenges. ADHD is a lifelong condition, but with appropriate support and management, those with ADHD can live successful and fulfilling lives.
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