The number of adults seeking an ADHD diagnosis has increased by 400% since 2020 and is estimated to affect one in 20 adults in the UK, according to Brainworks Neurotherapy.
With UK Google searches for ‘free ADHD tests for adults’ rising by 50% in the past week alone, and amid reports that 800,000 people are waiting more than a year to be diagnosed, Brainworks Neurotherapy has offered their expertise and guidance on the mental disorder.
James Roy, technical director at Brainworks Neurotherapy, explained the classic profile of ADHD: “On a brain level, ADHD doesn’t fit neatly in a single box. Every case is unique.
“The ‘classic’ profile is where the frontal lobes are stuck in a drifty, dreamy position. The feeling is a bit like being in a waking dream, causing an inability to bring your focus to bear when needed. Medication does well with this type, as does regular concentration or brain-training exercises to improve your concentration skills.”
Roy has further given knowledge on where ADHD can stem from: “Nutrition, exercise habits and general health all have a bearing on our ability to focus. However, often overlooked is our emotional condition, which has an equal or greater impact.
“As a practical example, we all know that following a near-accident, serious argument or emotional turmoil, our impulsivity increases and our decision-making and concentration skills suffer for a while. This is where deeper brain areas have taken over, commanding more brain resources and shortening our frontal lobes.
“Along the same principles, if we have constant low-level brain turbulence due to worries, long-term stress, work or relationship troubles, it can have a massive impact on our ability to stay on task when needed.
“This is why ADHD diagnoses often go hand in hand with emotional or developmental trauma. It points to a deeper brain activity problem with concentration. However, the result is the same, an impaired ability to focus and stay on task.”
The diagnosis – what to expect: “We can only speculate as to why the sudden increase in ADHD diagnoses, whether it’s more awareness around the issue, advertising by private clinics or an actual rise in concentration troubles.
“The NHS assessment for ADHD is a full and proper 3-hour workup, involving various methods including interviews, questionnaires, and psychological tests. They will explore your symptoms, duration, and impact on different areas of your life and gather information from other sources, such as family members or teachers, where appropriate.
“However, with the sudden rise in cases, the waiting times can be up to three years. Private ADHD clinics have been picking up the slack but have gained a reputation for going too far the other way with a quick online form and interview for a rather hefty sum.
“A less well-known option is to get a brain map (QEEG or Quantitative Electroencephalograph) to see your situation functionally.
“Brain maps are reasonably priced in comparison and can give you a good picture of the ‘why’ of any concentration troubles. Once the troubles have been identified, you can follow up with specific brain training techniques to help correct the underlying issues.”
Four at-home brain training techniques to help improve concentration
While these techniques may not cure ADHD, they can help improve focus, attention, and executive functioning skills.
This involves focusing your attention on the present moment without judgement. This can help reduce impulsivity as individuals become more attuned to their impulsive tendencies and can recognise them as they arise.
Mindfulness meditation can also help individuals develop emotional regulation skills. Individuals can observe emotions without immediately reacting by being mindful of them as they arise. This increased awareness and regulation can reduce impulsive behaviour that often stems from emotional reactivity.
Organisation and time management strategies
Developing effective organisational strategies, such as using planners, setting reminders, and breaking tasks into smaller, manageable steps, can help those with poor concentration stay focused and on track.
By incorporating these strategies into daily routines, individuals with poor concentration can improve their ability to plan, prioritise and complete tasks, increasing productivity and reducing stress.
Exercise and physical activity
Regular physical exercise has been shown to impact ADHD symptoms positively. Engaging in aerobic activities, such as jogging or cycling, can help increase dopamine and norepinephrine levels, crucial in attention, focus and mood regulation.
Individuals with ADHD often have lower levels of these neurotransmitters, so exercise can help increase their availability in the brain, improving attention and mood stability.
Establishing a consistent sleep routine and practising good sleep hygiene can enhance focus and attention during the day and reduce hyperactivity and impulsivity.
Aim for a regular sleep schedule and create a calm and comfortable sleep environment, as this will also help to enhance mood and emotional regulation and regulate the circadian rhythm.