An Expert Guide to Adult ADHD in the UK

Ruth Kennedy  - 18 November 2022

adult adhd uk

ADHD is an increasingly common problem worldwide. Not only does it affect children, but many adults are finding that they have had ADHD their whole lives without receiving a diagnosis. In the UK, it is now estimated that about 2.5% to 4% of adults have some form of ADHD prevalent.  

Whether you have been diagnosed with ADHD or only display some ADHD-like symptoms, this expert guide will provide a complete rundown of adult ADHD in the UK. 

We include how symptoms present themselves in children versus adults, the three different types of ADHD, how to get diagnosed as an adult, plus six common ADHD treatments. We’ll also tell you about one of the most affordable, plant-based supplements for ADHD-like symptoms made in the UK. 

Contents

  • What is ADHD?
  • ADHD Symptoms in Children and Adults
  • What are the 3 Types of ADHD?
  • How to Get Diagnosed for ADHD as an Adult in the UK?
  • 6 Common ADHD Treatments
  • What is the Best Natural Supplement for Adult ADHD in the UK?
  • Conclusion

What is ADHD?

ADHD in Adults UK

ADHD stands for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Typically ADHD is characterised by hyperactivity, impulsiveness, and inattention behaviours and is usually diagnosed in children. However, the symptoms can extend into adulthood.

In some cases, ADHD does not get diagnosed until adulthood. ADHD is a so-called developmental disorder, which means that it does not suddenly appear in adulthood. Instead, the symptoms will have persisted from childhood onwards.

There are two categories into which ADHD symptoms fall: inattentiveness and hyperactivity or impulsivity.

ADHD is usually treated with ADHD medications and therapy. While they do not provide a cure, they can relieve the symptoms experienced.

The causes of ADHD are still a topic of research. However, contributing factors seem to include genetics, environmental influences, and problems during the developmental periods of the nervous system.

While there is no cure for ADHD, there are six common ADHD treatments to help manage and alleviate its symptoms.

Did you know? ADD (Attention deficit disorder) has now been reclassified as Primarily Inattentive ADHD. Read more about all three classified types of ADHD.

ADHD Symptoms in Children and Adults

The ADHD symptoms of hyperactivity, impulsiveness and inattention often begin in early childhood. As mentioned earlier, ADHD is more commonly diagnosed in children than adults.

While everyone experiences concentration issues occasionally, those with ADHD become persistently disruptive and extend into different environments and aspects of their life.

Hyperactivity is often the most recognisable symptom in children because kids with ADHD appear to be constantly moving and full of uncontrollable bursts of energy.

While impulsiveness can be evident in how a child might talk a lot, interrupt others, and need to be the first to answer questions.

Children with ADHD often have trouble paying attention, especially for long periods or when they have a lot of homework and can be seen as disruptive because they have trouble sitting still or following instructions.  

Usually, the symptoms of ADHD reduce over time when children and teenagers progress into adulthood, although some still experience symptoms. 

The Royal College of Psychiatrists suggests that “2 out of every 3 of those diagnosed with ADHD as children continue to have these problems as teenagers. 2 out of 3 will still have problems as adults.” 

Therefore, the diagnosis of ADHD in adulthood is less common and more difficult than in childhood. In general, ADHD symptoms in adults can often appear in more subtle ways than in children. 

In fact, most people have experienced these symptoms at some point in their life, but this doesn’t mean we all have ADHD. Therefore, diagnosing ADHD is a process that aims to be as precise as possible. 

To be diagnosed with ADHD, a child needs to exhibit 6 symptoms from one of the below categories in at least two or more settings – such as home and school, while adults and adolescents over 17 must only present with 5 symptoms.

Symptom Type:

Children

Adults

Hyperactivity and Impulsiveness

  • being unable to sit still, especially in calm or quiet surroundings
  • constantly fidgeting
  • being unable to concentrate on tasks
  • excessive physical movement
  • excessive talking
  • being unable to wait their turn
  • acting without thinking
  • interrupting conversations
  • little or no sense of danger
  • restlessness and edginess
  • difficulty keeping quiet, and speaking out of turn
  • blurting out responses and often interrupting others
  • mood swings, irritability and a quick temper
  • inability to deal with stress
  • extreme impatience
  • taking risks in activities, often with little or no regard for personal safety or the safety of others – for example, driving dangerously

Inattention

  • having a short attention span and being easily distracted
  • making careless mistakes – for example, in schoolwork
  • appearing forgetful or losing things
  • being unable to stick to tasks that are tedious or time-consuming
  • appearing to be unable to listen to or carry out instructions
  • constantly changing activity or task
  • having difficulty organising tasks
  • carelessness and lack of attention to detail
  • continually starting new tasks before finishing old ones
  • poor organisational skills
  • inability to focus or prioritise
  • continually losing or misplacing things
  • forgetfulness
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What are the 3 Types of ADHD?

There are three main types of ADHD: primarily inattentive, primarily hyperactive and impulsive, and combined. Each is distinguished by the set of symptoms used to diagnose the type of ADHD an individual might have.

Primarily inattentive ADHD (Formally ADD) is categorised by the inability to focus, difficulty paying attention and short attention span. Those with this type of ADHD are often easily distracted or have problems with organisation.

Primarily hyperactive and impulsive ADHD is distinguished by the need for constant motion. Those with this type of ADHD may struggle to stay still, talk non-stop, and struggle with self-control.

Combined ADHD is, precisely as the name suggests, a combination of both previously mentioned types. Someone with combined ADHD must exhibit six or more symptoms from both symptom lists to be diagnosed with combined ADHD. 

adult adhd diagnosis uk

How to Get Diagnosed for ADHD as an Adult in the UK?

ADHD is diagnosed by qualified health professionals (i.e. a psychiatrist), often using the DSM-5. The DSM is the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, currently in its fifth edition.

ADHD in adults may present differently from ADHD in childhood and adolescence; therefore, the criteria for diagnosis are slightly different.

As previously mentioned, Instead of presenting 6 symptoms of each of the below categories, adults and adolescents over 17 must only present with 5 symptoms of each category.

Watch: How ADHD Looks Different In Adults

Importantly, these symptoms must interfere with a person’s functioning and quality of life to be diagnosed as a mental disorder and, therefore, as ADHD.

In addition to the above, according to the DSM-5, these symptoms must be present in more than one setting. Another criterion for the diagnosis is that symptoms must have been present before age 12.

This may make a diagnosis in adulthood more difficult. Of course, other criteria and factors are also considered when a psychiatrist diagnoses ADHD.

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6 Common ADHD Treatments

Many treatments are available for people with ADHD, ranging from medication and therapy to exercise and diet.

ADHD treatments aim to alleviate the symptoms of ADHD to help those with the disorder manage its effects in their daily lives.

1. ADHD

According to the NHS, four main prescription drugs are used to control ADHD symptoms: Methylphenidate, Dexamfetamine, Atomoxetine, and Lisdexamfetamine. Other than Atomoxetine, these prescription drugs are stimulants and tend to work quickly.

Medication is often used alongside therapy to treat ADHD. Remember, though, that this only helps manage symptoms and does not cure ADHD. It can help improve concentration and focus for ADHD, but a doctor should always regulate it.

2. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for ADHD

This kind of therapy involves communication and discussion and is a means of correcting thought patterns that are disruptive and negative to those with ADHD. It can be explored individually or in a group situation, depending on what you feel comfortable with.

CBT therapy can provide a good support network and determine how to organise better and bring structure to your life.

3. Exercise for ADHD

Regular physical exercise is often recommended for those with ADHD. Exercise can help your mind concentrate and increase your dopamine levels and endorphins.

You could try something simple like going on walks, but more intense activities such as martial arts are also a great way to harness your attention and use your energy.

Specifically, going outside to do physical exercise could also improve the effects of ADHD. Some studies suggest being outdoors can alleviate fatigue, particularly experienced by children after a long school day.

4. Diet for ADHD

Alternatives and natural ADHD treatments for adults are being researched. However, there is currently a lack of evidence regarding their effectiveness.

Having a balanced diet is generally advisable and beneficial. Many studies encourage those with ADHD to have a diet high in protein to stop blood sugars from rising, which can add to the hyperactive aspect of ADHD.

However, the NHS stresses that while some people experience a link between their diet and either worsening or improving ADHD symptoms, further research is needed and talking to one’s GP before making any changes to your diet is highly advisable.

5. ADHD Supplements

Additionally, there have been suggestions that supplements or vitamins may be helpful for people with ADHD. 

Supplements that help with ADHD include but are not limited to 

  • L-Tyrosine
  • L-Theanine
  • Panax Ginseng
  • Zinc
  • Vitamin D
  • Iron
  • Magnesium
  • Ginkgo Biloba

If you have ADHD-like symptoms, you could consider using natural brain food supplements to mitigate the symptoms. They are convenient, affordable and effective.

Many naturally-sourced supplements have been shown to enhance concentration and calm you down. This makes them an effective choice for those who are looking to treat ADHD-like symptoms.

When choosing a supplement for this purpose, we recommend opting for a stack rather than a bunch of different supplement pills. A supplement stack is a single supplement that contains many different individual ingredients, often working in synergy together.

6. Organisation strategies

If you have trouble balancing your ADHD with a busy schedule, try adding organisation tools to your routine, like a daily planner. This won’t cure ADHD, but it can be a helpful way to manage symptoms.

Changing your environment into one that works for you more can help alleviate symptoms or distractions, helping you focus on your tasks more.

While these are all common treatments, if you have been diagnosed with ADHD, always discuss with your medical professional before making any changes to your current treatment.

What is the Best Natural Supplement for Adult ADHD in the UK? 

Natural ADHD treatment

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Suppose you are susceptible to getting distracted and losing focus. In that case, your brain is not receiving the proper nutrient delivery, and the chances of maintaining any focus are very low. Therefore, the better your brain health, the easier it will be to maintain concentration.

As well as eating well and living a healthy lifestyle, the best way to ensure that your brain receives everything it needs is with a supplement made with scientifically proven ingredients.

These fast-acting supplements are easily absorbed, and many people have found that Brainzyme® FOCUS™ has helped them manage their ADHD symptoms.

Don’t just take our word for it, though! Read about the creator of The ADHD Focus Project’s personal experience with taking Brainzyme® FOCUS™.  

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Conclusion

In closing, ADHD is a common condition that only continues to grow as more people are diagnosed with it. The symptoms of ADHD fall into two categories that make up three types of ADHD, yet present themselves differently in children compared to adults.

When dealing with ADHD symptoms, there are several options available to you as treatment options. One of our best suggestions is that you try a natural supplement such as one of the Brainzyme® FOCUS™ formulas to help you manage your ADHD.

If you have ADHD-like symptoms check out with the Brainzyme® FOCUS™ Starter Bundle, a collection of all three Brainzyme® FOCUS™ formulas (Brainzyme® FOCUS ORIGINAL™, PRO™, and ELITE™) today to see which one would work best for you. 

References

McCarthy, S. (2012) Rdcu.be, The epidemiology of pharmacologically treated attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children, adolescents and adults in UK primary care. Available at: https://rdcu.be/ciEc9 (Accessed: November 11, 2022).

(2021) NHS choices. NHS. Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/attention-deficit-hyperactivity-disorder-adhd/symptoms/ (Accessed: November 11, 2022).

Williams, P. and Editors, A.D.D. (2022) What are the 3 types of ADHD?, ADDitude. ADDitude. Available at: https://www.additudemag.com/3-types-of-adhd/ (Accessed: November 11, 2022).

Benjamin Martin is a nootropic and brain supplement enthusiast

Ruth Kennedy 

Ruth Kennedy is a freelance life coach who, after being diagnosed with ADHD as an adult, strives to help others with ADHD manage their symptoms in the best way possible. Ruth takes Brainzyme® FOCUS PRO™ daily and swears by it to help her stay focused and productive. She uses her experience as an ADHD life coach to contribute to the Brainzyme® blogs. 

An American Expat living in Edinburgh, Ruth loves exploring the beautiful city and surrounding countryside with her husband and two dogs.

Expertise: All things ADHD-related

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