Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children/adolescents

Understanding whether your child has ADHD (or ADD) can appear to be a confusing process.

Sometimes symptoms may seem like the typical behaviour of a child, but symptoms may also negatively interfere with relationships or schoolwork.

We’re here to provide you with a clear diagnosis and expert guidance so that you can support your child to achieve their full potential.

Our approach to treating ADHD in children and adolescents

The first step in treating ADHD is receiving a diagnosis to understand what type of symptoms are causing the most difficulty.

We believe that psychoeducation should always be one of the approaches in treating ADHD symptoms, regardless of severity, as per the guidelines set out by England’s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE). Psychoeducation involves your psychiatrist providing information about your child’s specific type of ADHD so that both you and your child can better understand and cope with the symptoms. Your psychiatrist will also take into account all environmental factors when providing you with the best support for your child’s unique circumstances. We also recommend a combination of parenting interventions, environmental changes, and lifestyle interventions (stress relief techniques, nutrition and exercise).

We can also prescribe medication when the above approaches don’t sufficiently improve symptoms. The discussion about whether a child should take ADHD medication or not can be a complex one and it is important to explore all options and have an ongoing dialogue with the child (depending on the age) as well as with the parents.

What is the difference between ADD and ADHD?

ADHD is the official term used for the condition. When somebody does not have significant symptoms of hyperactivity, this is called ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder, inattentive subtype).

However, the terms ADD and ADHD can be used interchangeably and often people just use the term ADHD even if they are describing somebody without the Hyperactivity component.

In this article, we use the term ADHD referring to both ADHD and ADD.

What is ADHD?

Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a common disorder that affects a child’s attention span, concentration, impulsiveness and ability to learn. ADHD is a lot more common than you might think, with the global prevalence estimated to be around 7%. Despite the high prevalence, ADHD is underdiagnosed in most countries, meaning that many children never receive an official diagnosis or treatment. Girls and older children, who may not have obvious symptoms such as overactivity or impulsive behaviour, are also more likely to be undiagnosed.

Some children with ADHD are very high-functioning, which means they may have developed strategies to mask their symptoms, or they might be able to perform very well in academic settings. Even if children are high-functioning, they will still benefit from an official diagnosis and support so that they can better understand the reason for any of their difficulties.

Undiagnosed ADHD can lead to serious problems later in life as it is associated with a high risk of addiction, which is why it’s so important to provide support and treat symptoms. Children and teenagers with undiagnosed ADHD often struggle with anxiety or depression. They might feel different from their friends and classmates. Their teachers may unknowingly single out their behaviour, or label them as a class clown, or perhaps even a failure. Alternatively, school reports may not mention any difficulties at all, especially in the case of females, if the behaviour is not apparent or disruptive in class.

Some parents have only started noticing their child’s difficulty with attention since they started working from home with their families, due to the lockdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. While this may be normal to some extent, especially during such stressful circumstances, if you think the behaviour of your child is unusual or their schoolwork is being affected, it could be helpful to receive a private child ADHD assessment from a UK clinic.

Testimonials

I can't find enough good things to say about our first appointment yesterday with Dr Sala. I am so appreciative of how well prepared she was, how well she put Minnie at ease and managed to include and acknowledge her despite the fact that she couldn't see Minnie, her amazing professionalism and ability to draw all the elements together in a way that really resonated with us both, and made us feel really understood. What a wonderful person and a gifted professional. Minnie said she feels as if more was achieved in that session than everything else put together so far. She has been so much happier, more confident and at ease since the appointment. I know this is a process and we have a long journey ahead of us but it feels like we've found the right person to guide us in the right direction. Thank you.

Louise, Mother of Minnie, nearly 7
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What are the symptoms of ADHD?

Symptoms of ADHD typically fall under three main categories of hyperactivity, impulsivity and inattention. Although everyone has tendencies towards these symptoms sometimes, if your child seems unable to control their behaviour or if their relationships or school performance is being negatively affected, this may indicate ADHD.

Hyperactivity

Fidgeting, being unable to sit still, running around, climbing things, feeling restless, always moving around, their behaviour may be more extreme than what is expected of usual children’s behaviour, and the child may feel they are unable to control their hyperactivity.

Impulsivity

Not thinking about consequences or risks, no sense of danger, interrupts conversations or blurts answers out, talks excessively, or cannot wait their turn. 

Inattention

Difficulty concentrating, difficulty listening or following instructions, becomes distracted quickly, finds it hard to complete tasks or schoolwork, procrastinates, makes careless mistakes, forgets things, or loses belongings.

Inattention can be hard to diagnose, and sometimes children will zone in and out while someone is talking or start daydreaming, this becomes problematic if it occurs all the time as it will interfere with their education and ability to learn.

Children with ADHD will often struggle academically, either because they find it difficult to concentrate or they cannot complete schoolwork or tests on time. They may also get into arguments or fights with other children, their teachers or parents.

Children with undiagnosed ADHD may feel frustrated and ashamed of their symptoms, which can sometimes lead to anxiety, depression or addiction problems later in life if untreated.

What are the different types of ADHD?

There are three main subtypes of ADHD that are classified according to the child’s symptoms:

Inattentive ADHD (or ADD)

The main problems are difficulty sustaining attention and concentration.

Hyperactive-impulsive ADHD

Problems with impulsive behaviour and hyperactivity.

Combined ADHD

Includes both of the above types. It tends to be more severe than the two other subtypes.

What symptoms or conditions are associated with ADHD?

Some young people may also have other mental health conditions alongside ADHD. Common issues that typically co-occur with ADHD include:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Autism
  • Behaviour problems, such as oppositional defiant disorder
  • Sleep problems
  • Physical health conditions (epilepsy, allergies, gastrointestinal problems)

 

While the presence of these other conditions can make it more challenging to diagnose and treat ADHD, we often find that a holistic treatment approach can make an enormously positive impact. Once other conditions are treated, the symptoms of ADHD become much more manageable.

Although each child will have unique limitations and strengths, our ultimate goal is to enable all children to reach their full potential and live fulfilling lives.

What causes ADHD?

ADHD is a complex neurodevelopmental disorder that is caused by a combination of genetic, environmental and biological factors. The heritability of ADHD is relatively high, at 74%, meaning that someone’s genetics will significantly influence whether they develop ADHD or not. However, it’s not a simple case of specific genes that increase the risk of ADHD. Instead, researchers have identified that the genetic risk comes from small mutations in many different genes, with each of these genes contributing a small amount of risk (known as polygenic risk). Due to the vast number of genes involved, scientists still don’t understand precisely why some children and adolescents develop ADHD, while others don’t.

Some environmental factors may also increase the risk for ADHD, including smoking, alcohol or drug use in pregnancy, exposure to environmental toxins and premature birth. These environmental factors can place a degree of biological stress on the individual, which then increases their risk of developing ADHD, particularly if they already have an increased genetic risk.

Several biological factors might also be associated with ADHD, such as inflammation. Specifically, children with ADHD have lower amounts of the anti-inflammatory hormone cortisol. Cortisol helps our body to absorb nutrients and is involved in regulating cognitive function and reward-seeking behaviour. Neuroimaging studies have also shown that children with ADHD have altered patterns of brain activity, compared to children without ADHD.

Although it might be scary to learn about these biological factors involved with ADHD, the good news is that many of the treatments for ADHD help to regulate these biological mechanisms (such as cortisol and brain activity). Receiving a private child ADHD assessment from a UK clinic, as well as the required treatment often leads to a considerable reduction in stress for both the parents and the child. Stress reduction reduces inflammation and improves cognition, which can subsequently improve ADHD symptoms.

Does ADHD go away?

Although ADHD is a lifetime condition, the good news is that symptoms almost always improve with some type of treatment. In some children, the symptoms may improve over time so that they require less support or management of their symptoms as they grow older.

Some children with ADHD, with the right support and education, can develop strategies to circumvent challenging behaviours. Unfortunately, some children may have an increase in difficult symptoms and their needs will be more complicated. This is usually the case for children who also have behavioural difficulties, such as oppositional defiant disorder.

How do you treat a child with ADHD?

Every child will have a unique set of symptoms and circumstances contributing to their ADHD symptoms.

Once ADHD is diagnosed, as well as any other potential conditions, we will develop a personalised treatment plan specifically for your child. We will develop this with your input, based on your child’s needs and unique circumstances. The treatment will include an integrated approach so that your child can achieve their full potential, both academically and socially.

A treatment plan for ADHD may combine any of the following evidence-based approaches:

Psychotherapy (psychological therapy or talking therapies)

  • Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)
  • Family therapy (systemic therapy)
  • Play therapy
  • Social skills therapy
  • Interpersonal therapy
  • Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy

Psychoeducation

  • Information and support so that you and your child can better understand and cope with their ADHD symptoms

Environmental approaches

  • Parenting techniques to take a positive and proactive approach to supporting your child
  • Learning techniques tailored to your child’s specific ADHD symptoms
  • Behavioural learning techniques developed in association with your child’s school

Medication (if required)

  • Medication for ADHD works well for children, with approximately 60-80% of children showing an improvement in their symptoms
  • Commonly prescribed ADHD medications include Methylphenidate (Ritalin, Concerta, Medikinet), Lisdexamfetamine (Elvanse), Atomoxetine (Strattera) and Guanfacine (Intuniv)

Stress reduction approaches

  • Mindfulness techniques
  • Mind-body exercises

Diet and lifestyle interventions

  • Exercise
  • Nutritional and dietary changes
  • Supplements
  • Sleep therapy

 

When recommending a treatment plan, we will always follow the current guidelines that are based on evidence-based methods. Popular complementary treatments, such as stress reduction techniques and lifestyle interventions, may also carry a substantial benefit for your child and are low-risk to implement. We always emphasise the importance of formulating a treatment plan that is appropriate for your child under the guidance of a healthcare professional.

Can Omega-3 help ADHD?

Many people supplement their diets with Omega-3, which is a fatty acid that is commonly found in foods such as oily fish, nuts and spinach. New research shows that Omega-3 supplements may help to improve symptoms of ADHD, but the results of studies are mixed.

Specifically, studies have shown that children with ADHD who have low levels of Omega-3 may show some improvement in their symptoms after Omega-3 supplementation. However, children who already have relatively high levels of Omega-3 saw some of their symptoms worsen. The research in this area is still in the early stages, so we can’t jump to any conclusions yet.

These results demonstrate that when it comes to nutrition, there is no-one-size-fits-all’ approach. It also highlights the need for personalised medicine using evidence-based methods, which is when a practitioner designs a personalised treatment plan for an individual using a combination of biological markers and private child ADHD clinical assessment. We take a personalised medicine approach at London Psychiatry Clinic because we understand that every child is different and needs to be treated as such.

ADHD and addiction in Teenagers

Young adults with ADHD have an increased risk for all types of addictive behaviour in young adults. There have been some interesting studies, in particular, looking at cannabis use and alcohol use in adolescents and how ADHD seems to have a significant role.

More importantly, this relationship can be a life-long tendency and appropriate diagnosis, treatment and education during the teenage years can have a very beneficial long-term effect.

One of our Child & Adolescent psychiatrists, Dr Regina Sala, has significant expertise in the diagnosis and treatment of adolescents with ADHD and substance use and has published scientific articles on this topic.

Our Doctors

Here to help you with ADHD

Dr Srinivas Lanka

Dr Alberto Pertusa

Dr Nagore Benito

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Gemma Luke

My name is Dr Gemma Luke, a consultant clinical psychologist. I have been working in the field of mental health for over 20 years, and as a qualified clinical psychologist since 2011.

Conditions I treat:
Self-HarmAddictions AnxietyBDDBipolar disorderBehaviour problemsDepression Eating DisordersOCDPanic AttacksPersonality DisordersTrauma & PTSDOffending behaviour (domestic, violent, and sexual abuse)Behavioural issues

I am passionate about promoting positive mental health and strive to work holistically with both mind and body to help my clients achieve lasting change.

Fees

Initial consultations: £245 (1 hour)

Follow-up consultations: £245 (1 hour)

Alexandra Madureira

I’m a Clinical Psychologist who thinks outside the box. I have a creative and passionate approach that focuses on healing emotions while also considering life situations and neurobiological mechanisms.

Conditions I treat:
ADHDAddictions AnxietyBDDBipolar disorderBrain inuryBehaviour problemsChronic painDepression Eating DisordersFibromyalgiaMemory problemsOCDPanic AttacksPersonality DisordersTrauma & PTSD

I believe feeling safe is a prerequisite for change and therefore I focus on making people feel comfortable, so they can gain the courage to face and break unhelpful psychological patterns.

Fees

Please contact us for more information

Dr Ana Tsakiri

My Trauma-informed practice and holistic therapeutic approach aims to support children during periods of acute crisis but also help them with long standing emotional and behavioural difficulties. I work with families to understand how adversity and trauma has impacted a child’s world causing emotional and mental health difficulties as well as physical symptoms. I am also a Consultant Psychiatrist specialised in Interventional Psychiatry with TMS therapy for young people with resistant emotional difficulties and severe depression.

Conditions I treat:
ADHDAnxietyAutismBehavioural problemsBDDBipolar disorderBrain inuryComplex TraumaDepression Eating DisordersEmotional Difficulties Family workInterpersonal relationship problemsOCDPanic AttacksParental Psychoeducation about Mental Health DisordersPersonality DisordersPhychosomatic symptomsPsychosisPTSDSleep problems

The aim is always for your child to overcome the negative influence of the experience, redefine how they feel and rebuild their confidence

Fees
First Consultation:
£395
(1 hour)
First Consultation:
£650
(1.5 hours)
First Consultation:
£790
(2 hours)
Follow-up consultations:
£245
(30 min)
Follow-up consultations:
£295
(40 min)
Follow-up consultations:
£395
(60 min)

Dr Jonathan Garabette

I am a Psychiatrist specialising in General Psychiatry and Medical Psychotherapy. I treat most mental health difficulties and offer a range of approaches including medication, psychological therapies and lifestyle modification.
Conditions I treat:
Depression and Dysthymia​Depression and Dysthymia​Depression and Dysthymia​

I always try to focus on understanding you as a whole person and how any symptoms, problems and diagnoses affect you, your life and what is important to you.

Fees
First Consultation:
£475
(1 hour)
First Consultation:
£720
(1.5 hours)
First Consultation:
£895
(2 hours)
Follow-up consultations:
£275
(30 minutes)
Follow-up consultations:
£320
(40 minutes)
Follow-up consultations:
£475
(60 minutes)

Lynn Gruwez

I’m a Clinical Psychologist with experience across a range of mental health conditions. My goal as a therapist is to see each person as someone unique and human. I seek to understand in depth the nature of any mental health symptoms so that I can flexibly and creatively adapt therapy to suit your circumstances.

Conditions I treat:
ADHDAddictions AnxietyBDDBipolar disorderBehaviour problemsChronic painDepression Eating DisordersFibromyalgiaOCDPanic AttacksSleep problemsTrauma & PTSD

I believe in a holistic, non-judgemental approach where clients have the space and freedom to share their fears without constraint. I have a strong interest and passion for Mindfulness.

Fees

Please contact us for more information

Dr Triveni Joshi

I am a Consultant Psychiatrist specialising in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry with over 15 years clinical experience. I treat a wide variety of mental health and emotional conditions with an emphasis on holistic treatment and working with parents/carers.

Conditions I treat:
ADHDAngerAnxietyAutismBDDBipolar disorderBehavioural difficultiesDepression Emerging Personality DisordersOCDPanic AttacksParentingPsychosisSleep problemsTrauma & PTSD

I love to work with children. I wholeheartedly believe that early intervention is one of the best ways to successfully manage long term mental health problems.

Fees
First Consultation:
£475
(1 hour)
First Consultation:
£720
(1.5 hours)
First Consultation:
£895
(2 hours)
Follow-up consultations:
£320
(40 min)
Follow-up consultations:
£475
(60 min)

Dr Regina Sala

I am a caring and approachable medical doctor specializing in cognitive, behavioural and emotional well-being in children, adolescents, adults and their families. My ethos is to offer excellence of care based on evidence-based research with respect and compassion.

Conditions I treat:
ADHDAutismAddictions AnxietyAttachment difficultiesBDDBehaviour problemsBereavement, grief and lossBipolar disorderBrain injuryChronic painDepressionEating DisordersFamily TherapyFibromyalgiaIntellectual disabilityMedically unexplained symptomsOCDPanic AttacksPersonality DisordersPsychosisPsychosomatic symptomsSleep problemsSocial communication disorderSpecific learning disordersTics and Tourette’s syndromeTrauma & PTSD

I see my patients as human beings and aim to foster a sincere and relaxed environment so that we can build trust during our sessions. I believe in a positive body-mind integration with neuroscience’s principles to empower self-awareness, resilience and personal growth

Fees
First Consultation:
£475
(1 hour)
First Consultation:
£720
(1.5 hours)
First Consultation:
£895
(2 hours)
Follow-up consultations:
£320
(40 min)
Follow-up consultations:
£475
(60 min)

Dr Maria M. Herves

I am a General Psychiatrist with great interest in childhood and adolescence psychiatry. I have been working specifically in this field over the last 10 years. I believe that supporting mental health at early stages in life can prevent it from developing further into more persistent difficulties in adulthood.

Conditions I treat:
ADHDAnxietyAutismBehaviour problemsBipolar disorderChronic painComplex trauma and PTSDDBT(Dialectical behaviour therapyDepressionEmotional DysregulationFamily workFibromyalgiaMemory problemsOCDPanic AttacksParentingPersonality DisordersPsychosisPsychosomaticSchool bullying and cyberbullyingSleep problems

I regard the patient as the product, not the problem. They are a result of their environmental, genetic and social influences, all of which can be addressed and supported with professional help.

Fees
First Consultation:
£475
(1 hour)
First Consultation:
£720
(1.5 hours)
First Consultation:
£895
(2 hours)
Follow-up consultations:
£250
(30 min)
Follow-up consultations:
£320
(40 min)
Follow-up consultations:
£475
(60 min)

Dr Iyas Assalman

I am a Consultant Psychiatrist specialised in General Adult Psychiatry. I treat a wide variety of mental health and emotional conditions and I have an expertise in treating Adults with ADHD.

Conditions I treat:
ADHDAnxietyBDDBehaviour problemsBipolar disorderDepressionMemory problemsOCDPanic AttacksPsychosisSleep problemsTrauma and PTSD

Rather than seeing you as a diagnosis or trying to change your personality, I want to understand my patients as a whole person.

Fees
First Consultation:
£495
(1 hour)
First Consultation:
£745
(1.5 hours)
First Consultation:
£980
(2 hours)
Follow-up consultations:
£290
(30 min)
Follow-up consultations:
£385
(40 min)
Follow-up consultations:
£495
(60 min)

Dr Luis Alameda

I am a General Adult Psychiatrist and a Neuroscience Researcher. I specialise in severe mental conditions including trauma. I offer an individualised intervention integrating psychotherapy and medical approaches.

Conditions I treat:
AnxietyBorderline Personality DisorderBipolar disorderBrain inuryBehaviour problemsChronic painDepression Dissociative disordersNarcissistic Personality DisorderOCDPanic AttacksPersonality DisordersPsychosisReactions to acute stressSchizophreniaSchizoaffective DisorderSleep problemsTrauma & PTSD

I believe that difficulties in managing mental health are a normal part of life and far more common than you might think. They present an opportunity to understand the problem, become more self-aware and progress on your journey.

Fees
First Consultation:
£395
(1 hour)
Follow-up consultations:
£220
(30 min)
Follow-up consultations:
£330
(45 min)

Dr Lara Lavadiño

I am a General Adult Psychiatrist specialised in Adult, Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. I have specialist expertise in managing complex and long term conditions. I am an EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) certified psychotherapist also integrating Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Systemic Therapy and Psychodynamic Psychotherapy principles.

Conditions I treat:
ADHDAnxietyAutismBDDBehaviour problemsBrain injuryChronic fatigueChronic painDepressionDissociationFibromyalgiaLearning DisabilityOCDPanic AttacksPanic/AgoraphobiaParentingPerformance anxiety in Music, Acting and SportsPerinatal PsychiatryPersonality DisordersPsychosisSleep problemsSocial phobiaTinnitus and VertigoTrauma & PTSD

I believe in a positive psychiatry approach, empowering both children and adults to overcome any difficulties by providing education and support on their condition, along with a holistic and personalised treatment plan.

Fees
First Consultation:
£475
(1 hour)
First Consultation:
£720
(1.5 hours)
First Consultation:
£895
(2 hours)
Follow-up consultations:
£320
(40 min)
Follow-up consultations:
£475
(60 min)

Dr Srinvas Lanka

I am a Consultant Psychiatrist specialising in Adult Psychiatry and Neuropsychiatry. I treat a wide variety of mental health and emotional conditions and have specialist expertise in managing complex and long term conditions.

Conditions I treat:
ADHDAutismAddictions AnxietyBDDBipolar disorderBrain inuryBehaviour problemsChronic painDepression Eating DisordersFibromyalgiaMemory problemsOCDPanic AttacksPersonality DisordersPsychosisSleep problemsTrauma & PTSD

I try to understand your treatment goals, values, limitations and preferences, so we can personalise your treatment using the best approach that gives you sustained recovery.

Fees
ADHD Initial Consultation:
£1160
(2 hours)
Initial Consultation:
£870
(1.5 hours)
Follow-up Consultation:
£290
(30 min)
Follow-up Consultation:
£580
(1 hour)

Dr Jonathan Garabette

I am a Psychiatrist specialising in General Psychiatry and Medical Psychotherapy.
I treat most mental health difficulties and offer a range of approaches including medication, psychological therapies and lifestyle modification.

Conditions I treat:
Addictions AnxietyBDDBipolar disorderBorderline Personality DisorderComplex TraumaDepersonalisationDepression Eating DisordersInsomniaOCDSleep problemsPanic AttacksPsychosisTrauma & PTSD

I always try to focus on understanding you as a whole person and how any symptoms, problems and diagnoses affect you, your life and what is important to you.

Fees
Initial Consultation:
£1160
(2 hours)
Initial Consultation:
£870
(1.5 hours)
Follow-up Consultation:
£580
(1 hour)
Follow-up Consultation:
£290
(30 min)

Dr Nagore Benito

I am a General Adult Psychiatrist with extensive experience in the diagnosis and treatment of most mental health conditions. I offer a person-centered and holistic approach.

Conditions I treat:
ADHDAnxietyBDDBipolar disorderDepression OCDPanic AttacksPsychosisSleep problemsTrauma & PTSD

The best six doctors anywhere, and no one can deny it are sunshine, water, rest, and air, exercise and diet. These six will gladly you attend If only you are willing Your mind they’ll ease Your will they’ll mend And charge you not a shilling
– Nursery rhyme quoted by Wayne Fields, What the River Knows, 1990

Dr Alberto Pertusa

I have a strong interest in behaviour modification, lifestyle optimisation and the use of self-quantification as a way to foster wellbeing and increase performance.

Conditions I treat:
ADHDAddictionsAnxietyBinge EatingOCDOrthorexiaSleep problems

I always strive to provide the highest standards of care to all my patients.
I endeavour to offer personalised and bespoke treatment in order to meet your specific needs