Symptoms of ADHD can sometimes look like Bipolar Disorder – there is a huge overlap in symptoms, such as physical restlessness, distractibility, irritability, rapid or impulsive speech, and so on…and unfortunately, because of this, we’ve often seen individuals misdiagnosed with Bipolar Disorder (often by professionals with little or no experience with ADHD) and vice-versa.
We’ve talked before about overlap in symptoms, such as with Is it Anxiety or ADHD? and Is it Depression or ADHD?, and each time we’ve gone back to the same conclusion – knowing that ADHD can look like a lot of different things, it is absolutely essential to seek out an experienced medical professional – someone who knows ADHD – for a comprehensive assessment. This is key to differentiating what’s what – is it ADHD, is it potentially something else…what’s the root of your difficulties?
A few things a professional needs to thoroughly explore to help differentiate between ADHD and Bipolar Disorder:
Age of onset. A comprehensive assessment needs to look closely at when the symptoms began occurring. For an ADHD diagnosis, age of onset is quite early (we need to see evidence for signs and symptoms before the age of 12), while the age of onset for Bipolar Disorder tends to be later in life (generally in an individual’s twenties).
Specific symptoms. Many of the symptoms that overlap between ADHD and Bipolar Disorder tend to be what we call “nonspecific symptoms,” or symptoms that can generalize to a number of different potential mental health concerns. To help differentiate what could be Bipolar Disorder, for example, a professional will need to look primarily at the “cardinal symptoms” of that diagnosis, such as elation, grandiosity, flights of ideas/racing thoughts, and so on.
Consistency of symptoms. ADHD symptoms tend to be fairly consistent and pervasive across different domains of an individual’s life. Bipolar symptoms on the other hand tend to be more episodic. So, a comprehensive assessment will need to look at the consistency of the symptoms.
So, if you think you or a loved one might have ADHD, but there is some question that Bipolar Disorder might be in the picture, a thorough ADHD assessment will help you start teasing out what is ADHD and what it is not. Once we either rule it in or rule it out, it can make things a lot more clear in terms of next steps.
Springboard Clinic’s Laura MacNiven recently contributed an article to the Teachers on Call blog that we’d love for you to check out. It’s called ADHD: We are starting to talk the same talk and it’s all about how far we’ve come in understanding ADHD, and dispelling the myths and misconceptions that continue to cloud the disorder.
This is a great topic to read about in anticipation of our TED-style talk on February 5th – the whole evening will be dedicated to discussing the changes we’ve seen both with ADHD and in the Springboard Clinic community since opening our doors five years ago.
For more information about Teachers on Call, check out their website here.
For more information about our TED-style event on February 5th, check out the details here.
The talk below, by Sarah Jayne-Blakemore, a cognitive neuroscientist, is a great follow-up to Understanding the Teenage Brain, a video that we referenced by Dr. Dan Siegel not too long ago.
Like Dr. Siegel, Blakemore talks about the adolescent brain as a “work in progress,” with the brain continuing to develop into a person’s 20s and even 30s. By explaining some of the key differences we see in an adolescent brain vs. an adult brain, she essentially argues that what is seen as a “problem of adolescence” actually reflects important developmental changes in the brain.
Also, if you’re a parent of an ADHD teen, you might be interested in Springboard Clinic’s Parent Group. The current group is running as we speak, but we’re planning to continue offering them throughout the year. Contact us for more information or to put yourself on a contact list for the next run! (416-901-3077 or firstname.lastname@example.org)
In case you missed it, Springboard Clinic’s Winter 2015 Newsletter focused on letting go. Rather than us spending time with you on new years resolutions and goal setting, step one is to look inward and evaluate your attitudes, beliefs, emotions, habits…look at who and what you surround yourself with…and decide what stays and what goes. Letting go essentially means making the decision to move forward by leaving behind whatever “baggage” is dragging you down.
What to expect…
…Laura MacNiven talks about her experience letting go and buying a one-way ticket to Calgary
…Information about our “TED” style talk on ADHD
…3 Questions to ask yourself about letting go
…Information about our 6-week tele-course for adult coaching alumni
…and as always, we share our Golden Moments from treatment, and give you information about ADHD, assessments, treatment, and coverage for services
So, if you’ve already seen this issue, another read-through can’t hurt! If you haven’t seen it – we’ve got you covered. We’re finding that with the new gmail settings, even Springboard Clinic staff seem to be getting the newsletter emailed directly to the “promotions” (e.g. junk mail) folder, so we don’t blame you if you missed it!
Springboard Clinic recently turned five years old, and this has inevitably led to some introspection on our parts with respect to how far we’ve come as a clinic. Since opening our doors, we’ve expanded and honed our assessment and treatment options, we’ve grown our staff, and even started the process of branching off across the country.
We’ve seen so much growth within our walls, but what about the world of ADHD in and of itself. How far have we come in understanding ADHD? As a starting point, it might be worth looking at when ADHD was first diagnosed.
If you’re looking specifically at ADHD as defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), it was not until 1980 that the term “Attention Deficit Disorder” was introduced in the DSM-III. Prior to that, the DSM-II included a similar disorder called “hyperkinetic impulse disorder.” In the original DSM, which was released in 1952? No mention of any disorder that might relate to ADHD. But, this doesn’t mean that it wasn’t in the picture.
Sir Alexander Crichton
According to a very interesting paper we stumbled across called The History of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, the first example of a disorder that appears to be similar to ADHD was described by a Scottish physician named Sir Alexander Crichton in 1798. In his work he described “the incapacity of attention with a necessary degree of constancy to any one object…[that] may be born with a person, or it may be the effect of accidental diseases.” Sounds a lot like ADHD!
If you’re interested in learning more, we highly recommend checking out the paper linked above. Interested in a quick timeline of the evolution of ADHD? Check out The History of ADHD: A Timeline
On Thursday February 5th, 2015, Springboard Clinic will be hosting a “TED-Style” talk celebrating our five year anniversary! The evening will focus on our reflections about what we’ve learned about ADHD, what we think is important to focus on as we move forward, and to celebrate the many “golden moments” we have witnessed.
If you’re not sure what a TED talk actually is, fear not. We’re happy to introduce them to you!
First of all, TED is a non-profit organization that is dedicated to converging the worlds of technology, entertainment, and design, and providing a platform for “ideas worth spreading.” The intention is to use this platform to inspire discourse, debate, and ultimately change in the world.
Apparently TED was a one-off event in California back in the eighties, but it was evolved into annual conferences, as well as a huge number of independent TED events (called TEDx events) around the world. At each conference, there are a handful of speakers from the three TED fields who speak on a variety of fascinating topics. So, as you might have guessed, each of their talks is called a TED talk.
To give you an idea of what we’re talking about, check out the most popular TED talks of all time below:
So, how will our talk on February 5th be similar? Our intention is to spread our ideas, as they relate to the Springboard Clinic world. We’re going to focus on short, engaging talks about what we’ve learned over our five years at the clinic, and hopefully give you something to think about, talk about, debate…whatever. We want to stimulate a discussion!
Date: Thursday, February 5, 2015 6:30 PM-8:00 PM Venue: Central YMCA, 20 Grosvenor St. Price: $25.00 per person or $40.00 per couple Facilitators: Dr. Ainslie Gray, Laura MacNiven and the Springboard Team
ADHD and New Years Resolutions – oil and water. Perhaps this is an exaggeration, but if you have an ADHD diagnosis, it might feel like this comparison is pretty accurate!
This is the time of year when people emerge from the blur of the holidays, and start thinking: Now is time to make a big change. What better time to start something new than at the beginning of a new year?
ADHD diagnosis or not, coming up with (and sticking to) New Year’s resolutions can be seriously tough.
If you’re starting to think about this year’s resolution, or have one in mind, please check out this “greatest hit” from 2011: 5 Mistakes to Avoid when Making a New Year’s Resolution. This article is an oldie but a goody to help you rethink your approach to resolutions: let’s change things up this year and see some results!
Money management can be particularly difficult when you have ADHD; menial tasks like filing taxes and paying bills on time can often feel like torture. Buying fun new toys becomes even more spontaneous (and creative). Sure, impulsivity can be a lot of fun, but it can also be tough on your partner and your pocket book.
In the wake of this holiday season, your finances might be looking a little rough for wear. If so, Money Management and ADHD: 7 Tips for Handling Family Finances is a great starting point for you. Originally posted in 2010, we highly recommend checking it out to help you get in the mindset to get a better handle on your money!
Are you feeling a bit stressed right now? Or maybe a lot?
If so, check out Stressed? Try these 3 quick and easy relaxation strategies. We posted this article around the same time last year, and because we thought the ideas were so important we wanted to help refresh your memory! As mentioned in the post, these strategies will help you manage stress in the moment, and the more you practice them, they may even help you prevent stress (or at least minimize its impact on your sanity!)