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Is ADHD a Disability in the UK? Understanding ADHD & Symptoms: A Comprehensive Guide

Updated: Jun 24, 2022

ADHD is a recognised mental health condition in the UK - occurring primarily in children. It affects their ability to concentrate and makes their brain function differently from other children. If not diagnosed and treated early, symptoms can linger until adulthood.

What is ADHD?

ADHD means Attention Deficiency Hyperactivity Disorder. A Lincoln-based psychiatrist, Dr Jajawi described the condition as affecting the mind, and is usually identified in children and occasionally extends to adults when they are not treated early on. Generally, the condition manifests in three ways, categorised as ADHD types. They include combined, impulsive, and inattentive ADHD types.

3 Recognised sub-types of ADHD

Understanding the three types of ADHD is essential for ease with spotting the different symptoms.

Inattentive and distractible ADHD

Patients of this ADHD type find it hard to pay attention to details and are often easily distracted. They also have issues with remembrance, organisation, and taking on tasks.

Impulsive/hyperactive ADHD

ADHD patients within this group suffer from speech and action incongruity. An Impulsive person rarely thinks about the consequences of their actions before speaking and will often yell while speaking or overreact to situations.

Individuals with hyperactive ADHD are often restless and have issues controlling their behavior or actions.

Combined ADHD

This group of ADHD patients suffers from inattentiveness and impulsive disorder.

According to the NHS, most children have combined ADHD, which is more common in boys than girls, with the majority being 70% in adults. The combined symptoms of this group make it hard for treatment.

ADHD symptoms and treatment

Identifying the early signs of ADHD can simplify the diagnosis and treatment process. Also, it can save you on financial and emotional costs.

ADHD signs by demography

Occurring in different stages, ADHD symptoms can be well understood by looking at it from three demography - newborns, preschoolers, and women.

Signs of ADHD in newborns

Newborns spend their early days in deep sleep, light sleep, drowsy, quiet alert, active alert, and crying. It is possible to have some variation in how each child develop but generally when a child becomes too distressed and feels uneasy and difficult to handle, it is a sign the baby needs help. Other signs such as restlessness and erratic temperament in a child is a signs they may need an ADHD diagnosis.

Early signs of ADHD in preschoolers

It is quite complex to tell when a preschooler has ADHD as they find it hard to pay attention under normal circumstances. But when you notice combined symptoms relating to inattention, impulsivity, and Hyperactivity, it is a sign that they need help.

ADHD symptoms in women

Females have long been perceived as less aggressive than males, which is believed to have significantly influenced ADHD diagnosis around this gender. However, a 9-year-old subreddit, coupled with the widely reported outburst of ADHD among adult females, gives a contrary indication. Making it believable that female ADHD signs are not reported early enough until escalation.

Female ADHD signs are more identifiable in adult groups than in younger ones. When they start feeling overwhelmed, have difficulty managing money and time, and have historic depression, anxiety, and disorderliness.

These symptoms in females have been attributed to triggers caused by puberty in young females. And menopause for adults as confirmed by the CHADD research.

This goes to say that no gender is free from ADHD. Even though the aggressive nature of males makes aggravates their conditions from childhood. Females' are more likely triggered during puberty and at menopause.

Lesser-known symptoms of ADHD

Aside from the major ADHD symptoms discussed above, here are some lesser-known symptoms of ADHD.


When an individual becomes frequently engrossed in activities such that they experience diminished perception of their environment, they are hyperfocus. Instead of being regarded in a negative term, hyperfocus help improves tasks being worked on. It also helps the individual get a grasp of the activity being performed. Hyperfocus is particularly healthy for fun activities or games. But when it comes to day-to-day activities, getting too particular about a task that one loses the reality of their environment is hyperfocus. And can be a negative sign as researchers say it can be a sign of ADHD.

Time management issues

Procrastination becomes natural when an individual constantly fixates on the 'now' so much that they find it hard to anticipate the future reward of their action and consequences. It is a sign they have ADHD. Such traits make it hard to respect the time and keep to deadlines, and planning for such individuals becomes a calendar-filler.

Emotional Sensitivity

ADHD sometimes manifests internally; research says only about 25% in children and 5% in adults of ADHD diagnosis occur externally. Emotional sensitivity is one of the signs of ADHD, and clinically referred to as emotional hyperarousal. Children with this symptoms experience low and high energy. So sometimes they are very high on energy, and the other time they are low. They experience more passionate and emotional thoughts than an average person. Such conditions can lead to prolonged low and high self-esteem depending on the child's situation.

Lack of Sleep

Although research has not established a clear relationship between lack of sleep and ADHD, many sleep-deprived individuals have traced their difficulty to ADHD triggers. These ADHD-induced sleep problems are often referred to as 'perverse sleep.' Which is a situation where an individual's sleep condition operates in a contrasting manner. Sleeping when they don't want to and cannot sleep when they want. Perverse sleeping occurs in four different states, difficulty falling asleep, restless sleep, difficulty waking up, and intrusive sleep.

Low tolerance for boredom

Hyperactivity among patients with ADHD usually occurs in activities they love. Others quickly lose attentional arousal and want to move on to the next activity they love. So when they dont have the option to do what they want, their attention arousal gets low and cause boredom. Sleep deprivation, as identified above, and prolonged effort of Hyperactivity, also reduces arousal and causes low tolerance for boredom.

Impulsive Shopping

High impulsivity, as identified above, also occurs when shopping. And an individual with ADHD is most likely to buy now and think later. Because the urge for impulsive spending is high for individuals with ADHD than others.

Longterm ADHD syndrome

Research has shown that undiagnosed ADHD in a child can lead to prolonged problems as an adult. Such as poorer self-esteem and social function. However, brain fog and forgetfulness are some other long-term syndrome of ADHD.

Brain Fog

Some ADHD symptoms, such as sleep deprivation, can cause brain fog. Brain inflammation is also a known cause of brain fog. An individual experiencing brain fog will find it harder to recall information and talk properly.


Prolonged ADHD has been associated with memory problems. It makes it difficult to encode and process information in working memory. Consequently affecting the individual's long-term memory.

Common perceptions and misunderstandings about ADHD

Unfortunately, like other health conditions, there exist some misconceptions about ADHD. This misconception hampers diagnosis effort and hence delays treatment, which can further worsen the situation with which people live with ADHD. Not to mention leaving people to misunderstand.

ADHD misconceptions #1 Everyone has ADHD nowadays, don't they?

When people say things like 'everyone gets distracted!' They mean people exhibit symptoms of ADHD nowadays.

People who say such often doesn't mean that people have differences in their brain. It's more like 'people have one or more distractions that they all deal with.'

Their intentions might not to be mean, but such comment undermines that ADHD exists as a mental condition. It also undermines the struggles people with ADHD go through. Which is quite different from the usual difference in how people respond to stress and situations. ADHD is different from having a bad day.

ADHD is a brain-based, often a chronic condition that can be life-long

ADHD misconceptions #2: Medication is recommended as the first course of action

There are many misconceptions about ADHD. Some believe drugs trigger it, affect a particular gender, and everyone has it. Some of these statements are sentimental, but let's consider them in light of research.

Research carried out over the years has proven that ADHD affects all genders, even though ADHD diagnoses are more prevalent among young female adults. Than males whose diagnosis and symptoms occur mainly in childhood.

ADHD misconceptions #3: ADHD only affects boys

ADHD is not gender specific - it affects both boys as much as girls, only that it is more prevalent in males than females. Parents of children between the ages of 4-17 in the National Health Interview Survey (2011-2013) found a diagnostic rate of 13.3% for boys and 5.6% for girls.

ADHD misconceptions #4: Hyperactivity is the most common presentation of ADHD

A commonly known ADHD misconception about ADHD is that hyperactivity is the most common form of ADHD.

Far from it, a higher percentage of people with ADHD show combined symptoms.

If you see yourself showing signs of ADHD, you should have a specialist assess you.

The NHS assessment test covers your mental health and goes through a checklist during your consultation. This helps in diagnosis and helps you in knowing your next line of action.

ADHD treatment (first steps)

The NHS through your GP is the first step to getting ADHD treatment. Treatment differs from child and adult. But getting an appointment with your GP is where you can start from.

NHS ADHD test for children

ADHD treatment in children depends on if your child has exhibited six or more symptoms of inattentiveness or six or more symptoms of Hyperactivity and impulsiveness.

NHS ADHD test for adults

For adults with ADHD symptoms, you can get NHS ADHD treatment if the following conditions are true.

  • You missed diagnosis as a child, and your symptoms began then and have continued since

  • A mental health condition cannot explain your symptom

  • Your symptom affects your everyday life, including achieving at work and finding intimate relationship difficult.

If the above conditions apply to you, you may be referred to a specialist.

Medication for ADHD (meds for Hyperactivity)

Meds for Hyperactivity are generally not a permanent cure for ADHD but are meant to help someone in four main ways. To concentrate better, feel less impulsive, communicate better, learn and practice new skills. There are five types of licenced meds for Hyperactivity.

  • atomoxetine

  • methylphenidate

  • lisdexamfetamine

  • dexamfetamine

  • guanfacine

Meds for Hyperactivity also depends on if the person was diagnosed with ADHD as a child. If not until adulthood, a GP would discuss suitable medication and therapies.

Getting a diagnosis through Dr J and Colleagues

Dr J and Colleagues follow three ADHD diagnosis and treatment plan known as, psychoanalysis, therapy, and ADHD medications. And the process can be further broken down into: diagnosis assessment, post-diagnosis medication, and post-treatment checkups. You can get a diagnosis for ADHD through Dr J and Colleagues.

Psychiatric interventions are highly recommended as they can help you easily understand ADHD patterns and help you effectively manage and treat the condition. They also help assess the situation to know when medication should be halted or when is the best time to use either of the treatment options.

Recommended ADHD reading materials

If you query 'best books on ADHD for parents, you will find loads of them. Many of which you can buy on Amazon. We recommend the NHS Trust Devon Partnership book on Coping with ADHD at Dr J and Colleagues.

DR J and Colleagues ADHD Patients' Feedback

After our combined 20 years of experience helping people with ADHD, here are some of what our cleients have to say.

Connor - 'I was very excited to see Dr Jajawi after seeing his amazing reviews, and now I've seen him, I know why he has amazing reviews; it took a long time for me to get through the denial of everything I was putting myself and others through, but after gaining the courage to go finally I went and had the best service and was finally diagnosed with Bipolar disorder, for which I was given medication that has completely changed my life, my moods are now more stable, and I have a lot more focus and love for life. A huge thank you to Dr Jajawi and everyone who works there for their amazing and empathic work.'

Zoe - 'Best psych doctor I've ever seen. I actually feel like he really cares about his patients. Had struggles for years and years, like 33 years, and I'm 36 and have seen many different doctors whom I just couldn't get to grips with and feel comfortable with, resulting in me shutting down. Such a breath of fresh air to find this doctor to be the complete opposite of any other I've seen. Also, I've found doctors in the past to be a little old-fashioned in their views, it's clear to me DR Jajawi makes a real effort to keep up with modern psychiatry, and I'm incredibly thankful.

Emma - 'The doctor was amazing with my daughter. He was extremely patient and listened to everything she was saying; he gave her some amazing advice; it was an absolute pleasure to see my daughter interact with the doctor. She even asked him some questions which surprised me.'

Lou - 'Dr Jajawi is by far the best psychiatrist I have ever seen; during my 14yrs of mental health treatment, I've seen a fair few. Dr Jajawi listens and takes everything into account. I felt the diagnosis that was given to me came from a place of understanding, not just reading the literature and criteria lists for the illnesses but from truly understanding me as a patient.

He explains the medications and options available in a way that is easy to understand and then helps you make the best possible choices. As a long-term mental illness sufferer, I can say that Dr Jajawi has changed my life. My faith in Dr's has been restored.'

Katy - 'Dr Lewis-Hanna is a truly wonderful Doctor. This man listens, observes, and makes his own independent decisions. It's taken me five years to find a Doctor l trust with my Sons care. This man is unique, absolutely brilliant- he shows empathy and a level of expertise that's in a whole new league. I can't praise this man highly enough. Brilliant.'

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