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ADHD stands for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. It’s a mental health disorder that affects your brain’s functioning, as well as your ability to self-regulate and control your thoughts, words, actions and emotions.

Around 1 in every 20 Australians has ADHD. The exact causes of ADHD aren’t known, but it can run in families and may have co-existing conditions such as anxiety and depression.

If you have ADHD, it’s most likely you were diagnosed during childhood, as that’s when symptoms begin. But sometimes, ADHD is diagnosed later, when you’re a teenager, or a young adult. There are many myths surrounding ADHD.

ADHD symptoms can present in 3 ways: inattentive, hyperactive-impulsive, or a combination of these. The symptoms and experience of ADHD may be different from person to person, and that ADHD comes with positive as well as negative attributes. It’s only when the negative attributes are very disruptive that they can affect your life in a negative way. If you have ADHD, the condition can be effectively managed with a variety of approaches, including medicines, psychological support and nutritional, dietary and supplemental methods.

What to do

It’s normal for people to get distracted, especially at university, but if you are struggling to concentrate and you are feeling frustrated and confused by your attention span, you can see a doctor and discuss your symptoms. They may refer you to a psychiatrist who can make a diagnosis of ADHD or otherwise.

If you’ve been diagnosed with ADHD, it’s important to discuss your studies with your health care professional (for example, your psychiatrist). They can help you cope with the challenges that study might present, as well as explain co-existing conditions that may also have an effect on your studies, like anxiety or depression.

If someone close to you has ADHD, like a friend or someone you’re working with on a group project,  you can support them by talking to them about how you can collaborate effectively.

Getting support

At Deakin, you can make an appointment with Deakin's Counselling service or Deakin Medical Centre to discuss a previous ADHD diagnosis, or to talk about your symptoms if you think you might have ADHD.

Our counsellors can explore problem-solving strategies with you to manage the symptoms you have immediately, refer you to a specialist, or help you access Deakin's support services. You might also want to chat to a counsellor if you’re caring for or supporting someone in your family or life with ADHD.

If you have ADHD, our Disability Resource Centre can support you. They provide access plans for students with learning disabilities that may include alternative assessment arrangements and access to an Academic Support Worker.

More help and advice

You can learn more about ADHD from ADHD Australia and the ADHD Foundation.

Our Disability Resource Centre has advice for managing your study with ADHD.

Deakin also runs an ADHD Support Group – you can contact adhdgroup@deakin.edu.au for more information.

Read more about the myths and facts on ADHD.

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