If you find yourself constantly disorganized, late, forgetful, and overwhelmed by daily activities, you may be suffering from ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). More than 10% of adults or about 16 million Americans have been living with this condition since their childhood and may not even be aware of it. ADHD affects the prefrontal cortex of the brain, where all of our planning and decision-making functions occur. Left untreated, ADHD can hinder everything we do in our daily lives, from school to career to relationships. With Clarity Clinic, you can speak to expert clinicians and receive treatment and ADHD medications in Chicago.
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a disorder identified by a pervasive pattern of inattention, lack of focus, and impulsivity/hyperactivity that affects executive functioning — basic functions of the brain that includes memory, organization, time management, and concentration. While it is typical for individuals – particularly children – to exhibit hyperactive, energetic behaviors at times, those with ADHD display intense, more consistent symptoms that interrupt daily life and can cause significant impairment in all areas of their life, affecting family dynamics and social interactions. ADHD was originally believed to be a childhood disorder that kids would eventually grow out of, but more research has shown that ADHD can last a lifetime and change from hyperactivity/impulsivity behaviors in kids to more inattention, lack of focus, and disorganization in adults. While more than 16 million Americans suffer from ADHD-related symptoms, many go undiagnosed and struggle with schoolwork, workplace functioning, and relationships. ADHD symptoms can manifest as early as 6 years old and symptoms must be present and consistent for at least six months for a clinical diagnosis. Clarity Clinic specializes in ADHD assessment and treatment, including medication evaluation and management, as well as psychotherapy.
What is the Difference Between ADHD and ADD?
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) are often used interchangeably, but there is a difference. ADD is a type of ADHD, that doesn’t include the hyperactivity component – constant movement or fidgeting. However, ADD is no longer considered a separate disorder in the medical community and is lumped under ADHD with the subtype “Predominantly Inattentive.” Those with this subtype typically struggle with focus and concentration, and struggle with organizational issues but lack hyperactivity or impulsivity traits.
What are Executive Functions?
Executive functions are a set of mental processes that help you achieve your goals and manage yourself. Executing functioning skills taps into the frontal lobe part of your brain that is responsible for organization, memory, impulse control, concentration, focus, and detail orientation. When executive function skills aren’t working correctly, it can affect major life functions including learning, interactions with others, and being able to take initiative and work independently. Because ADHD affects executive functioning skills, those struggling with ADHD symptoms often have trouble with:
- Keeping track of details and/or day-to-day appointments
- Initiating goal-oriented behavior, such as finishing a project or cleaning your room
Maintaining focus, such as being able to watch a movie or read a book
- Regulating emotions often lashing out at others and without mindful responses.
- Difficulty with recall or short-term memory, often time forgetting what they wanted to say or misplacing things.
Signs and Symptoms of ADHD
Those with ADHD have a persistent pattern of symptoms that include:
- Difficulty paying attention (Inattention)
- Overly active (Hyperactivity)
- Acting or doing without thinking things through (Impulsivity)
Testing for ADHD
A diagnosis of ADHD requires an evaluation by a licensed clinician such as a psychiatrist or psychologist who specializes in ADHD. At Clarity Clinic, we offer ADHD diagnosis and treatment for children, teens, and adults aimed at understanding issues of inattention, impaired concentration, hyperactivity, and restlessness. These problems are not by definition a sign of ADHD but instead can indicate depression, anxiety, or some other mental health condition entirely. Sometimes these symptoms may be altogether subclinical and simply reflect normative shifts in cognitive functioning.
Additionally, Clarity Clinic offers comprehensive educational and psychological testing to assess a variety of functions – social development, memory, and cognitive – to rule out any other medical or psychiatric conditions before diagnosing ADHD.
Treatment for ADHD
Pharmacological and psychotherapy treatments have been shown to reduce symptoms and improve overall functioning. Clarity Clinic clinicians ensure a proper diagnosis to determine the source and nature of the attention deficits that kids and adults experience and guide them toward the proper treatments, including pharmacological and non-pharmacological interventions.
Our psychotherapists work in conjunction with the treatment team to individually tailor the treatments and therapies, which may include cognitive-behavioral psychotherapies, learning time-management strategies, and learning appropriate self-care. Our therapists also include psychoeducational training with parents and caregivers to provide at-home strategies to reduce maladaptive behavior and provide structure and routine to those struggling with ADHD symptoms. ADHD can also affect the overall family system, causing conflict and secondary family issues, we provide family therapy to identify skills to strengthen the unit as a whole.
Parents play an important role in providing structure, routine and teaching, and modeling skills to help children achieve their highest potential. Additionally, because ADHD can affect relationships in adults, causing conflict and turmoil, Clarity Clinic’s marriage and family therapists can work with couples to identify and recognize how ADHD symptoms can contribute to destructive cycles and negative interactions and find more constructive ways to manage those negative interactions.
Medication management coupled with psychotherapy has proven to be an effective treatment in reducing symptoms of ADHD and improving overall functioning.
Medications to treat ADHD include:
In general, stimulant medicines improve symptoms in about 70 out of 100 people who have ADHD. There are often quick and dramatic improvements in behavior. Stimulants are the most common type of medication prescribed for ADHD. While many people have concerns about these medications, they have the longest track record with the most research to back up their effectiveness.
Adderall – known by the generic name Dextroamphetamine-Amphetamine, is a stimulant used to treat ADHD. Adderall improves the part of the brain that controls executive functioning, helping those struggling with ADHD symptoms increase focus and concentration, reduce impulsive behaviors and help with organization and task completion.
Vyvanse – is also used to treat ADHD. Also a stimulant, Vyvanse has been shown to restore neurotransmitters in the brain to help increase focus and concentration, reduction in restlessness, and improve organization skills.
Concerta – is also part of the stimulant class of drugs used to treat ADHD. Known by the generic name methylphenidate, Concerta works by changing certain types of chemicals in the brain that can improve executive functioning skills including focus and concentration, listening skills, and reduction in impulsive behavior. can also improve improves brain functioning
Non-stimulants have been proven successful in the treatment of ADHD and are designed for children and teens or those who do not want stimulants to treat their symptoms.
Strattera – known by the generic name atomoxetine, is a non-stimulant medication used to treat ADHD. -Straterra has been approved for children and teens, as well as adults, and has been shown to improve attention and focus and reduce impulsive behavior and hyperactivity.
Clonidine – is also a non-stimulant ADHD medication approved for children and teens. Clonidine has also been shown to reduce ADHD symptoms, including distractibility, restlessness, and hyperactivity, as well as improve focus and concentration.
Antidepressants – Certain antidepressants are sometimes also recommended as many times those struggling with ADHD have co-existing disorders, such as depression.
According to studies, taking medicine for ADHD doesn’t increase the risk of substance abuse later. Many studies have found less alcohol and drug abuse in children and teens with ADHD who had taken stimulant medicines than in those who didn’t receive medicine. But because ADHD medications aren’t a cure, they must be taken continually, otherwise, the symptoms will return.
At Clarity Clinic, we have highly trained staff who specialize in diagnosing and treating ADHD. To schedule an appointment, click on one of the specialists below to schedule an initial evaluation and discuss assessment, diagnosis, and treatment options.
For more information on ADHD, below are several additional resources to help learn more about the disorder.