Adult ADHD in the UK:
An Ultimate Guide
Ruth Kennedy - 8 August 2023
[Reading Time: 10 minutes]
Are you an adult in the UK struggling with the challenges of ADHD?
You're not alone.
Many adults in the UK live with ADHD and have found ways to successfully manage their symptoms and lead fulfilling lives. But if you're not sure if you have ADHD or how to get a diagnosis, it can be difficult to know where to turn for help.
In this blog post, we will explore the realities of adult ADHD in the UK, including how to know if you have ADHD, common symptoms, and traditional treatments.
We’ll also discuss the benefits of using food supplements to manage ADHD and provide information on our recommendation for the most affordable, plant-powered supplements for ADHD-like symptoms made right here in the UK.
- What is ADHD?
- How Do I Know If I Have ADHD as an Adult?
- ADHD Symptoms in Adults
- Comparing ADHD Symptoms in Adults vs Children
- What are the 3 Types of ADHD?
- ADHD in Women
- How to Get Diagnosed for ADHD as an Adult in the UK?
- What is the Best Way to Get an Adult ADHD Assessment From the NHS?
- Living with Adult ADHD
- How Does Adult ADHD Affect Mental Health?
- What ADHD Services are Available in the UK?
- 7 Common ADHD Treatments
- What is the Best Natural Supplement for Adult ADHD?
What is ADHD?
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a mental health condition that affects people of all ages but is most commonly diagnosed in children and adolescents. It is classified as one of the most common neurodevelopmental disorders and can continue into adulthood.
ADHD affects the ability to focus on tasks and maintain attention, amongst other areas of functioning, such as impulsivity or hyperactivity.
People diagnosed with ADHD usually experience problems managing their emotions and behaviour, juggling multiple tasks at once, organising their thoughts, and expressing themselves appropriately in social situations.
Symptoms typically appear before the age of 12 and can vary from person to person depending on age, gender, cultural background or environment. While it is more common in children than adults, many adults still live with undiagnosed ADHD due to its complex diagnostic criteria.
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.
Whilst there is no cure for ADHD, there are seven common ADHD treatments to help manage and alleviate its symptoms.
How Do I Know If I Have ADHD as an Adult?
It can be difficult to determine whether or not you have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder as an adult.
If you’re having trouble focusing on tasks at home or work, have trouble staying organised and on top of deadlines, or find yourself feeling overwhelmed in certain situations, it could be a sign that you may have ADHD.
Adult ADHD is more common than many people think, with estimates of about 4% to 5% of the adult population meeting the diagnostic criteria for ADHD.
A good way to start your search for help is by reaching out to your GP, who can offer you a referral for further assessment and evaluation.
It is important to note that it is common for adults with ADHD to have other mental health conditions as well, such as depression or anxiety. Therefore, it is important to speak with a mental health professional who can help you determine the best course of treatment for your specific needs.
Find out if you present key symptoms of ADHD by taking our self-ADHD test now.
ADHD Symptoms in Adults
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) typically emerges in childhood and can continue into adulthood. However, it is important to note that because of the varied symptoms, many adults never receive a proper diagnosis until much later or go years being misdiagnosed for something else. This is especially true for women.
In adults, ADHD may manifest in various ways, including difficulty with organisation and time management, impulsive decision-making, and difficulty paying attention or following through on tasks.
One common symptom of ADHD in adults is difficulty with organisation and time management. This may involve being disorganised in daily life, forgetting appointments or deadlines, and having a hard time managing time effectively.
Impulsive decision-making is another common symptom of ADHD in adults. This may involve acting on impulse without considering the consequences or acting without thinking things through.
Difficulty paying attention or following through on tasks is also a common symptom of ADHD in adults. This may involve having a hard time staying focused on a task, getting easily distracted, or starting tasks but not finishing them.
Other common symptoms of ADHD in adults include mood swings, low frustration tolerance, and difficulty with relationships. Adults with ADHD may also have problems with procrastination and may be prone to making careless mistakes.
It is important to note that everyone experiences these symptoms at some point in their lives, which doesn't necessarily mean an individual has ADHD. A diagnosis of ADHD should be made by a qualified healthcare professional after a thorough evaluation. To find out how you can get diagnosed with ADHD as an adult in the UK, read on below.
Comparing ADHD Symptoms in Adults vs Children
ADHD symptoms can look different in adults compared to children, as the manifestation of the disorder may change as an individual grows and develops. In children, ADHD is often characterised by hyperactivity and impulsivity, such as difficulty sitting still, fidgeting, and speaking out of turn. In adults, these behaviours may manifest differently, such as being unable to sit still in a meeting or having difficulty waiting their turn in a conversation.
Adults with ADHD may also have more difficulty with organisation and time management than children with ADHD. This may include being disorganised in daily life, forgetting appointments or deadlines, and having a hard time managing time effectively.
Watch: How ADHD Looks Different In Adults
Additionally, adults with ADHD may have a harder time with executive function skills, such as planning and problem-solving, than children with the disorder. These skills are important for managing daily life and achieving long-term goals, and adults with ADHD may struggle with tasks that require these skills.
To be diagnosed with ADHD, adults and adolescents over 17 must only present with 5 symptoms from one of the below categories in at least two or more settings – such as home and school, whilst a child needs to exhibit at least 6 symptoms.
Hyperactivity and Impulsiveness
- restlessness and edginess
- problems 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
- 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
- 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
- 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 issues organising tasks
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.
Inattentive ADHD (Formally ADD) is categorised by the inability to focus or pay attention and a short attention span. Those with this type of ADHD are often easily distracted or have problems with organisation.
This type of ADHD is much more common in adults, most especially seen in women and is often overlooked as ADHD. This oversight is why so many adults go years without a diagnosis.
Hyperactive-Impulsive ADHD is characterised by impulsivity and hyperactivity. People with this type of ADHD often struggle with self-control, talk non-stop and may even interrupt conversations or ramble on without pause, experience restlessness and fidgeting, and have the inability to sit still for long periods.
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.
ADHD in Women
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) affects both men and women, but it is often misdiagnosed in women. This may be due to several factors, including the fact that the symptoms of ADHD may be different in women compared to men and that the disorder is often thought of as a "male" disorder.
For example, women with ADHD may be less likely to exhibit hyperactivity and may have more subtle symptoms, such as difficulty with organisation and time management or difficulty paying attention. Because there is a lack of hyperactivity symptoms, it is far less likely that women with ADHD are diagnosed as children, which leads to a greater need for them to be assessed as adults.
Another factor that may contribute to the misdiagnosis of ADHD in women is that the disorder is often thought of as a "male" disorder. This may lead to women not being evaluated for ADHD as often as men or to the symptoms being attributed to other factors such as stress or menopause, making it harder to recognise and diagnose the disorder in women.
How to Get Diagnosed for ADHD as an Adult in the UK?
If you think you may have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) as an adult in the UK, there are several steps you can take to get a proper diagnosis.
First, speaking with your primary care physician or a mental health professional, such as a psychologist or psychiatrist, is important. They will be able to discuss your symptoms with you and determine whether a referral to a specialist is necessary.
If a referral to a specialist is necessary, you may be referred to a clinic or specialist within the National Health Service (NHS). The specialist will conduct a thorough evaluation, including a physical exam, a review of your medical history, and a series of tests and assessments to determine whether you have ADHD.
In addition to speaking with a healthcare professional, keeping a record of your symptoms and how they affect your daily life may also be helpful. This can help the healthcare professional better understand your symptoms and how they impact your functioning.
The ADHD assessment usually takes one to three hours and examines your experiences with ADHD from childhood to adulthood. The evaluation looks at a checklist of ADHD symptoms and matches your experience and anecdotes of behaviour to the checklist.
One thing to remember is that it's important to recall examples from when you were young to provide sufficient evidence of ADHD being present throughout your life.
If you are having trouble getting an official ADHD diagnosis, you could benefit from taking natural ADHD supplements to help manage your symptoms.
Learn more about our recommended choice for the best natural ADHD supplements, or take advantage and save time by using a quick buy link.
What is the Best Way to Get an Adult ADHD Assessment From the NHS?
To get an adult ADHD assessment from the NHS, you can start by contacting your general practitioner (GP). Your GP will be able to assess whether you meet the criteria for ADHD and, if appropriate, refer you for a specialist assessment. This may involve seeing a psychiatrist or clinical psychologist, who will conduct a more thorough assessment and determine whether you have ADHD.
It's important to note that the process for getting an ADHD assessment can vary depending on where you live in the UK. In some areas, specific clinics or services may be available for ADHD assessments. You can ask your GP for more information about the options available in your area.
Because adult ADHD can present itself so differently in adults, many doctors and psychiatrists don't have the information they need to properly identify adult ADHD.
As a result, many adults with ADHD get overlooked or misdiagnosed as having depression/anxiety, bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder or dementia. This is why it is important to be aware of the NHS Right to Choose policy.
The NHS Right to Choose policy gives patients in England the right to express a preference for a particular hospital or clinic when referred for non-emergency treatment. This means that patients can choose to receive treatment at a hospital or clinic of their choice as long as the facility can provide the necessary treatment and meets certain quality standards.
The Right to Choose policy aims to give patients more control over their healthcare and increase the options available to them. It is important to note that the Right to Choose policy only applies to non-emergency treatment. Patients may not always be able to exercise this right due to clinical reasons or capacity constraints at the facility of their choice.
Currently, this option is only available to those in England. Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland have other rules.
Because more and more people realise they may have ADHD, the NHS has been overwhelmed with referral requests for ADHD assessments. This has created a massive backlog, and people are now waiting years just to be assessed for ADHD. Some have even reported waiting times as long as 7 years!
One alternative to getting an ADHD assessment through the NHS is getting assessed by private healthcare. Private testing can be conducted by various healthcare professionals, including psychiatrists, clinical psychologists, and specialist clinics. Private testing may be an option for individuals looking for a quicker assessment or prefer more control over their treatment and care.
It's important to note that private testing for ADHD can be expensive and may not be covered by insurance. Prices can vary depending on the type of assessment and the provider, but typically, you could pay anywhere between £500 and £1200 just for the initial assessment.
That isn't even considering the cost of follow-up sessions you would need to determine the best course of treatment for your ADHD.
Suppose you can't afford private psychiatric diagnoses and are looking for more immediate relief for ADHD difficulties.
In that case, you might want to try a natural brain food supplement as an alternative whilst you wait for an official diagnosis. Read about our suggestion for the best natural and affordable supplement for managing ADHD symptoms below.
Living with Adult ADHD
Living with adult ADHD is a reality for many people, and it can be incredibly challenging to understand ADHD, let alone manage it.
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder affects not only the person with the mental health condition but also the people around them. It is a complex disorder that can make everyday life very difficult.
It affects relationships at home and at work. It can impact finances, employment, driving and medication issues.
Despite it being one of the most common mental health problems, many adults living with ADHD are not aware they have it. It is estimated that up to 6 million people in the UK may be affected by ADHD, yet only around 400,000 are currently receiving treatment for their condition.
The condition affects an estimated 3% of adults in the United Kingdom, with symptoms including difficulty focusing, impulsive behaviour, and restlessness. With proper diagnosis and treatment, those living with adult ADHD can lead happy and successful lives.
Mental health experts have noted that adult ADHD is often misunderstood or overlooked due to its similarity to other mental health conditions such as anxiety or depression.
It's important for those affected by the disorder to receive professional help to ensure they are supported throughout their journey towards managing their mental health. Support networks play an important role in helping individuals cope with this complex condition, whether professionally or from family and friends.
How Does Adult ADHD Affect Mental Health?
Research has shown that adult ADHD can lead to depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and other mental health problems.
It's important to note that, according to the National Institute of Mental Health, it's not uncommon for people with ADHD to also have another mental health condition. For example, those with autism spectrum disorder, tic disorders or other neurological conditions often have ADHD.
People affected by this disorder often experience difficulty focusing and concentrating on tasks, leading to frustration and low self-esteem. Adult ADHD also affects the ability to organise thoughts; this can lead to poor decision-making and a lack of productivity.
Furthermore, those with the disorder are more likely than average to feel overwhelmed or become easily distracted in life activities such as work or relationships. This can cause an increase in stress levels which take a toll on an individual’s mental health over time.
What ADHD Services are Available in the UK?
As the number of people diagnosed with ADHD in the UK continues to grow, so does the need for services and support for individuals with this condition. As mentioned before, ADHD can present challenges both in childhood and adulthood, so it is important to know what services are available.
Although ADHD can significantly impact individuals’ lives, various services are available to help those affected manage their symptoms and live fulfilling lives.
The NHS has a range of specialist teams offering diagnosis, advice and treatment options for adults with ADHD. Services may include medication management, psychological interventions such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), educational advice and family therapy where appropriate.
Several websites offer peer support and other adult ADHD services, including AADD-UK, which has an online directory of local hospitals and peer support groups.
Many organisations offer support, including those specialising in vocational training or employment assistance. Some charities provide counselling sessions and activities such as mindfulness-based approaches to help individuals manage their ADHD daily.
For adults living with ADHD, there are several sources of help, including online forums, NHS clinics or private therapists who specialise in treating adults with ADHD.
ADHD peer support groups are also available to provide emotional support and practical advice to young people and adults with ADHD and their families.
These groups offer an opportunity for those with similar experiences to come together in a safe environment, share stories and provide each other with mutual understanding.
Additionally, specialist support groups can provide information about medications and other strategies which may help manage the condition.
7 Common ADHD Treatments
Many treatments are available for people with ADHD, from traditional medications and behavioural therapies to more holistic approaches like lifestyle modifications or natural remedies.
They aim to alleviate the symptoms of ADHD to help those with the disorder manage its effects in their daily lives. However, treatment for ADHD may be more effective if it is tailored to the individual’s specific needs.
1. ADHD Medication
Medication is often used alongside therapy to treat ADHD. Remember, though, that this only helps manage symptoms and does not cure ADHD.
When deciding to take a medication, it may take some time to determine the dosage that best meets your needs. When you make a medication change, the psychiatrist will want to consult with you regularly, around a couple of times a month.
After a period of time, when you can tolerate your medication, a physician may gradually reduce the frequency of visits.
Medication can help improve overall cognitive function, but a doctor should always regulate it.
2. An ADHD Support Group
ADHD can be a difficult condition to manage on your own. Fortunately, support groups for ADHD allow individuals to receive peer advice and insight into efficiently coping with their disorder.
Support groups for ADHD can be invaluable resources for those living with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). A peer support group, usually facilitated by an appropriately qualified healthcare professional, provides a safe space for members to openly discuss their experiences and different strategies for managing their ADHD.
The primary purpose of a support group is to provide emotional validation and solidarity. It allows members to meet others who understand the challenges accompanying ADHD, which can be incredibly comforting.
With guidance from experienced facilitators, participants gain insight into their own behaviour and learn how to make positive life changes. Members may also benefit from self-help techniques such as mindfulness meditation or cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT).
Ultimately, support groups offer individuals with ADHD the chance to connect with others in similar situations and share knowledge on how best to cope with the disorder.
3. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Mental Health
Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is a type of psychotherapy that can be used to improve mental health. It is particularly beneficial for individuals with ADHD. CBT helps individuals identify any negative and self-destructive thoughts or behaviours they may have, so they can start to change them over time.
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.
By examining one’s thoughts and beliefs, CBT encourages the individual to build self-awareness, gain insight into feelings and behaviour, increase control over emotions, and create better coping strategies in difficult situations.
Through this process of personal exploration, one learns how to modify their behaviours to reduce distress and become more emotionally balanced. 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 better organise and structure your life.
4. 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.
5. Diet for ADHD
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 whilst some people experience a link between their diet and either worsening or improving ADHD symptoms, further research is needed and talking to your GP before making any changes to your diet is highly advisable.
6. ADHD Supplements
Natural ADHD food supplements made from ingredients that are found in nature are believed to have a positive effect on attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). These supplements may include herbs, vitamins, minerals, and amino acids that have been shown to positively affect brain function and may help improve focus, concentration, and overall cognitive performance.
Supplements that help with ADHD include, but are not limited to:
- Panax Ginseng
- Vitamin D
- 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 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.
7. Organisation Strategies and Routines
Establishing routines and implementing organisational strategies can be helpful for individuals with ADHD. A daily routine can help to reduce distractions and improve focus by providing structure and predictability.
Some strategies for staying organised include creating to-do lists, using a planner or calendar, setting reminders, and breaking tasks down into smaller steps. It can also be helpful to designate a specific place for important items, such as keys or phones, to reduce the risk of losing them.
Additionally, decluttering the physical environment can help to reduce distractions and improve focus. It's important to be flexible and adjust strategies as needed, as what works for one person may not work for another.
Whilst 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?
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 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.
If you have ADHD-like symptoms, Brainzyme® FOCUS™'s 100% plant-powered brain food supplements can help you manage them.
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; check out these testimonies from satisfied customers!
Watch: Brainzyme® FOCUS™ ADHD Case Study Compilation
With the waiting lists for ADHD assessments for adults growing ever longer with each passing month and the costs for private assessments so high, trying one of Brainzyme® FOCUS™'s powerful formulas is a convenient and affordable way to tackle those ADHD-like symptoms sooner rather than later.
Learn more about all three of Brainzyme® FOCUS™'s powerful formulas (Brainzyme® FOCUS ORIGINAL™, PRO™, and ELITE™) as effective treatments for ADHD-like symptoms by checking out the Brainzyme® FOCUS™ Starter Bundle.
In conclusion, ADHD is a complex disorder that can significantly impact an individual's life. It is important to recognise the symptoms of ADHD in adults and seek proper diagnosis and treatment.
Adults with ADHD may benefit from a combination of treatments, including medication, therapy, and lifestyle changes. Some common treatments for ADHD include stimulant medications, non-stimulant medications, and behavioural therapy.
It is important to speak with a healthcare professional to determine the best treatment for your individual needs. Support is available for individuals living with ADHD in the UK through healthcare professionals, support groups, and online resources.
One of our best suggestions is to try a natural supplement such as one of the Brainzyme® FOCUS™ formulas to help you manage your ADHD. With the right resources and support, it is possible to manage ADHD and lead a fulfilling life.
If you have ADHD-like symptoms check out all three Brainzyme® FOCUS™ formulas (Brainzyme® FOCUS ORIGINAL™, PRO™, and ELITE™) by buying the Brainzyme® FOCUS™ Starter Bundle today to see which one would work best for you.
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.
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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).