What is ADHD?
ADHD is a condition where you have lots of energy and have difficulty concentrating. You might also find it hard to control what you say and do. For example, you might speak without thinking first, or find that you do things on impulse.
Symptoms usually start very early in life, before the age of six. We don't know exactly what causes ADHD but experts think it might run in families, or it could be to do with the way the chemicals in your brain work. But you might start to experience ADHD-like symptoms if you’ve had a difficult experience.
Another condition called attention deficit disorder (ADD) has similar symptoms to ADHD, but you don’t feel as hyperactive. For people with ADD, the main problem they have is difficulty concentrating.
The symptoms of ADHD
- feeling restless or fidgety
- talking a lot and interrupting others
- becoming easily distracted
- finding it hard to concentrate
- saying or doing things without thinking
If you experience any of these symptoms above, it doesn’t mean you definitely have ADHD. But if any of them are affecting your everyday life, you should do something about it.
What to do if you think you might have ADHD
If you think you might have ADHD, talk to someone you like and trust. This could be a teacher, a relative, a counsellor or one of your friends.
Talk to your GP. Tell them how you’re feeling and they can suggest ways to help. They may offer to refer you to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS).
You don’t need to do a test to find out if you have ADHD. Instead, you’ll talk to an expert such as a psychiatrist or specialist paediatrician (young person’s doctor) to find out the best way to help.
How to treat ADHD
There are various types of treatment that can help you deal with ADHD.
Many young people tell us they find medication really helpful because it makes it easier for them to focus and concentrate.
Through therapy, such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) or psychotherapy, you can learn practical ways to manage your behaviour and cope better with everyday situations.
Talk together with your family and a counsellor about how to deal with things in your daily life.
You can get specialist help to make your time at school easier to manage.
ADHD and your mental health
ADHD can leave you feeling out of control. People might not understand what you’re going through and could think you are acting out or being difficult, or criticise and punish you unnecessarily. This can make you feel isolated, depressed, or it can lead to feelings of low self-esteem.
It can really help to talk to your friends, family and teachers about how you feel and how they can support you. Let them know what you do and don't find helpful so that they can do their best to help.
Different things work for different people. You could try the following to see if they help:
- Cut down on drugs and alcohol.
- Limit screen time and sports in the evening.
- Avoid taking stimulant medication (or caffeine) after 4pm.
- Get enough sleep.
- Eat a healthy, balanced diet.
Get help now
Where to get help
If you're worried, stressed or struggling to cope you are not alone. Here are some services that can help you.
Provides information about local counselling and advice services for young people aged 12-25.
You can find local services on their website.
Text YM to 85258
Provides free, 24/7 text support for young people across the UK experiencing a mental health crisis.
All texts are answered by trained volunteers, with support from experienced clinical supervisors.
Texts are free from EE, O2, Vodafone, 3, Virgin Mobile, BT Mobile, GiffGaff, Tesco Mobile and Telecom Plus.
Texts can be anonymous, but if the volunteer believes you are at immediate risk of harm, they may share your details with people who can provide support.
- Opening times:
If you’re under 19 you can confidentially call, chat online or email about any problem big or small.
Can provide a BSL interpreter if you are deaf or hearing-impaired.
Hosts online message boards where you can share your experiences, have fun and get support from other young people in similar situations.
- Opening times:
- 9am - midnight, 365 days a year