Stress and ADHD

Therapy for Children and the Adults in their Lives

Stress and ADHD


“The American Psychiatric Association estimates that 3 percent to 7 percent of school-aged children have ADHD.  The Kaiser Permanente study analyzed the health records of 842,830 children in the health plan whose age ranged from 5- to 11-years-old. Of those, nearly 5 percent, or 39,200, had an ADHD diagnosis. When researchers looked at the rates of new diagnoses, they found a 24 percent rise – from 2.5 percent in 2001 to 3.1 percent in 2010.”


People with the diagnosis of ADD or ADHD can create a great deal of stress and disorder in their own lives and in the lives of the people around them.  Tasks that would otherwise be easy can become difficult and overwhelming.  In many cases the frustrations that build up can lead to outbursts and impulsive behaviors.  Young children can be oppositional and defiant at home and at school.  Older students often have to struggle to keep up academically. And many adults have similar issues which cause them problems at work and in relationships.


The good news is that I have seen many children, teens and adults with the diagnosis of ADHD who have been able to learn the skills of self regulation.  There are many theories of why ADHD is being diagnosed more frequently.  I believe that for most clients I see, a therapeutic approach can be effective in helping them overcome the behaviors that have led to their diagnosis.


The first step in treating ADHD is diagnosis.  There are psychological tests including online and computer based testing that can demonstrate the behaviors consistent with ADHD.  I offer this option in my office.   In my experience the most effective strategy is a clinical interview with an experienced therapist.


While drug interventions are commonly prescribed, I believe that a trial of therapy is preferred as a first step.   I do see clients who are currently taking medications and I am happy to work with them and coordinate treatment with other providers, teachers, employers and anyone else concerned in the treatment process.


Common signs of ADHD:ADHD
  • Lack of emotional control
  • Easily distracted
  • Poor follow through
  • Can’t sit still
  • Under performance at school
  • Inattentiveness
  • Opposition and defiance
  • Substance abuse including cigarettes and alcohol

The common thread among all of these behaviors is challenges in healthy self regulation.


Therapy involves:
  • Diagnostic interview
  • Setting therapeutic and life situation goals
  • Working on self regulation skills
  • Anxiety reduction strategies
  • Case coordination
  • Follow up as needed

Acute intervention can make significant changes in behavior in just a few sessions.

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