Understanding ADHD & ADD

Symptoms, Causes and How We Can Help

ADHD stands for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. A differentiation is made between ADHD with hyperactivity (ADHD) and without hyperactivity (ADD).  In the seventies, scientists began to use the term attention deficit (hyperactivity) disorder to describe various symptoms.  Although most complaints are often noticed in children and adolescents, it is known that symptoms such as lack of concentration, impulsiveness and hyperactivity persist into adulthood. Relatively few adults are diagnosed or receive ADHD treatment, although they may benefit from psycho-stimulant medication and /or Neurofeedback.

ADHD (with “Hyperactivity“)

ADHD is indicated by a lack of concentration, impulsiveness and over-activity which usually begins before the age of seven, persists at least six months and is not due to other psychiatric disorders or environmental influences, (e.g. reaction to problems in the family environment). Behavioural problems and conduct disorders are more associated with ADHD than ADD.

ADD (without “Hyperactivity“)

The main characteristic of ADD without hyperactivity is difficulty in concentration. Studies show that children with this diagnosis often suffer from anxiety and learning difficulties. Although there are no studies conducted on adults with this disorder, it is expected that ADD without hyperactivity has a different effect than ADD with hyperactivity.

Common symptoms in children and/or adults

being easily distracted

repeatedly being late

mood swings

addictive behaviours

being chaotic

persistent boredom

low self-esteem

excessive abuse of drugs/alcohol



relationship problems

difficulty finding employment


depressive feelings


Adults with ADHD

Adults with this disorder, especially those who have not been diagnosed and received ADHD treatment, can suffer from a number of problems, some of which are directly caused by ADHD and other compensatory behaviour associated with ADHD. These symptoms may of course also be seen in children with ADHD.

The symptoms of ADHD in adults may be constant or situation dependent. Some people with ADHD can concentrate if they are interested or excited, while others find concentration difficult. Adults with ADHD may actively seek stimulation or by contrast, avoid it as much as possible. Whilst antisocial behaviour is sometimes noticeable in adults with ADHD, the opposite may also be an indication as some may seek attention and acceptance by overtly pleasing others. Targeted Neurofeedback is an ADHD treatment method which can help people with ADHD adapt and control these behaviours.

Understanding ADHD & ADD

How common is ADHD in Adults?

Although little is known about the prevalence of ADHD in adults, the research that has been done shows that ADHD occurs equally in adult men and women. Two-thirds of children diagnosed with ADHD before puberty will still show behavioural problems during adolescence when emotional problems related to ADHD manifest. Up to one-half of these adolescents will still have symptoms of ADHD lasting into adulthood.

Isn’t it too late to diagnose in adults?

The effects of ADHD into adulthood can have a serious negative impact on self-esteem and personal development. Adults suffering from ADHD often benefit from a correct diagnosis and intervention by a trained therapist. It allows patients to put ongoing behavioural and social difficulties into a proper perspective, whereas before they may have felt misunderstood.

With good management of personal and social development, people diagnosed with ADHD in adulthood can still achieve positive outcomes with correct intervention by a trained therapist. ADHD treatments and therapies such as Neurofeedback and cognitive behavioural therapy can improve self-esteem, as well as work and learning skills in adults and in children.

ADHD: After Diagnosis

With the support of a professional, there are a number of ADHD treatment options available. ADHD assessment and diagnosis should be seen as a step in the right direction, providing relief for patients to know that they are on a path forward to alleviating daily personal struggles and other behavioural or relationship issues. A professional may suggest counselling and coaching for the adult or child, their family and close friends, as well as asking for support from employers or educators.  A professional may also prescribe medication, as well as neuromodulation therapies such as Neurofeedback or EEG biofeedback. A trained therapist will recommend one or more of these ADHD treatments depending on the severity of the disorder and how much it impacts on the daily life and well-being of the person.

Tips that patients with ADHD or ADD found useful:

  • Allow yourself internal structure. These include calendars, lists, notes to yourself, colour coding, routines to help you remember things.
  • Take on a “good addiction.” Find an exercise or other healthy and fun activities for regular and structured periods where you can “let off steam”
  • Create a rewarding environment. Design projects, tasks, etc., in order to minimize frustration. Break large tasks into smaller steps and set priorities.
  • Allow yourself a break. Take time to calm down and regain perspective when you feel angry or overwhelmed. Walk away from the situation if necessary.
  • Use humour! It helps if partners and colleagues remind you to keep busy with your job, as long as it is done with humour and respect. Learn about symptoms of ADHD with humour. Make jokes with friends and family about symptoms such as getting lost and forgetting things.
  • Be a pupil and teacher. Read books. Talk to professionals about medication, neurofeedback and behaviour. Talk to other adults who have ADHD. Let the people who matter know what are the pros and cons of ADHD.
  • Make sure you get enough hours of sleep and have a regular sleep-wake rhythm.
  • Make sure to get as much natural daylight (or sunlight) during the day, and prevent exposure to computers and tablets in the evening, before bedtime. If you would still like to use tablets and computers, consider installing the free software F.Lux which reduces the amount of blue light as a function of the time-of-day.

Are you looking for help in assessing or managing ADHD or ADD?

Our clinics offer comprehensive assessments and personalized medication-free programs

Understanding ADHD & ADD

The importance of personalising therapies for ADHD

The underlying causes of inattention, hyperactivity or sleep difficulties are not necessarily the same in two people. Because of this, we create ADHD treatment and therapy programs which look at the individual brain activity of the person, whether they be a child or an adult. This is done by asking each patient or client to do a Quantitative EEG (QEEG) examination with psychometric assessment, to take into account biological, psychological and personal factors.

By doing a 7-day Actigraphy in the beginning as well, we can look at Sleep / Wake behaviours to see if this could explain some of the symptoms we are seeing. From this ADHD assessment, the therapist will come up with a therapy program that is more likely to help the client (for scientific evidence on this see Arns et al. 2012).

Find out more about our assessment approach

Advantages of Personalised Neurofeedback

  • non-invasive
  • other than feeling fatigue after a training session, studies report no severe or adverse effects of Neurofeedback (this is shown in the multi-centre, placebo-controlled trial by Strehl et al. 2017)
  • self-efficacy through active participation
  • short-term therapy programs, usually completed in 2 – 3 month
  • following neuroCare protocols of a detailed pre-assessment, 3 in 4 people who do a full therapy program notice a significant improvement in symptoms of AD/HD (see Arns et al. 2012)

Who is Neurofeedback suitable for?

  • adults, adolescents and children over 6 years old with inattention and impulsivity problems (ADHD) and/or sleep problems
  • persons with sub-types of ADD/ADHD
  • there are no exclusion criteria

Find out more about Neurofeedback

Want to learn more about our medication-free mental health programs?

For more information about ADHD assessment and ADHD treatment and therapies, please write to us below. Briefly tell us about your situation and how you think we may be able to help. A staff member from one of Melbourne or Sydney clinics will be in touch.

For immediate help, we urge you to contact lifeline on 13 11 14



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