Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is a common mental illness characterized by the inability to concentrate or sit still. The condition is, of course, more involved than these two symptoms. However, when people think of ADHD, the image is of a young child squirming in his seat. The truth is that the condition manifests itself in ways that differ from one person to another. Patients are also not always kids. People who were not diagnosed as children find out about the condition as adults who have concentration and other related issues. By understanding the disorder and its symptoms, families may be able to better cope with an ADHD diagnosis in an adult or child in the household.
The myths surrounding ADHD often begin with the origins of the condition. Many people believe that children contract the disorder from eating too much sugar or watching too much television. In truth, the only thing that seems clear about the condition is that it is hereditary and develops in childhood. Properly diagnosed adults can pinpoint the symptoms in their own childhood that were left undiagnosed. The condition is now most commonly diagnosed in childhood, particularly in boys.
Another myth is that ADHD is caused by other mental health conditions. While the disorder may coexist with depression or bipolar disorder, there is little evidence that the coexisting condition caused the ADHD. The condition can appear as a lone psychiatric problem. However, this is usually not the case.
One of the most misunderstood areas of the condition is the symptom list. ADHD symptoms can make patients appear to be flaky adults, unruly children, shopaholics and procrastinators. Other mislabels for ADHD sufferers include procrastinators, impulsives, quitters and fidgeters. These labels are only description of the primary symptoms of the disorder, which can include:
- Being easily distracted
- Focus and concentration difficulties
- Task completion problems
- Being talkative
- Trouble sitting or stand still
- Moving and touching things constantly
- Being easily bored
- Difficulty listening to and following instructions
- Interruptive speaking
- Difficulty staying on topic or on task
People who have ADHD have their own collection of these symptoms that may end up
disrupting their daily lives. The key to remember is that no one will have every symptom, so your ADHD diagnosis may reflect that you are a dreamer who is impatient and impulsive, but you may not be hyperactive. This is perfectly acceptable. Identifying these symptoms in a person is the most important thing. Because there are so many ways to misinterpret the symptoms and to make a diagnosis, only a doctor should do so. Just remember that hyperactivity is not the predominant symptom for the disorder. In fact, most adult patients were missed as kids because they were quiet children who did not disrupt class. However, as adults, their symptom combinations created a need to seek mental health treatment.
Medication is often thought to be the first line of defense for treating ADHD, but this is not true. Some patients use a therapy and medication combination, and others use no medication at all. The only way to treat the conditions is to identify the primary complaint for the ADHD sufferer. There are three categories of ADHD patients:
- Hyperactive-impulsive patients have most of the classic ADHD symptoms, but those symptoms are related to the hyperactivity. These patients are fidgety, impatient, talkative and have trouble focusing, for example.
- Inattentive patients primarily have symptoms that center on the inability to pay attention. They can’t focus, concentrate, follow instructions and often change topics, for example.
- The third category is a combination of the first two. Their symptoms span the ADHD symptom board with no predominant leader.
Treatment for the disorders also includes occupational therapy for those who need it. Patients who suffer from a coexisting condition also get treatment for that disorder. Bipolar disorder is a common codiagnosis that is treated with medications that also treat the ADHD. Therapies are designed to treat both conditions.
ADHD patients may try several combinations of treatments to alleviate symptoms before an effective one is found. Contrary to belief, there is no cure for the disorder and kids do not grow out of it. Many kids may find themselves seeking additional treatment as adults. Others may find ways to cope on their own. No matter which one occurs, the patient is never cured of the condition.
ADHD is often a disorder that can be managed. Severe cases exist that can be debilitating for the patients. These cases often come with other severe mental conditions that complicate the diagnosis and the patient’s life. Most ADHD patients function normally in society with no outward signs of their conditions.
Adults with ADHD should watch for signs of the condition in their families, as the hereditary link to ADHD is very strong. Parents regularly pass this along to their kids. Similarly, newly diagnosed patients usually find it easy to pinpoint the condition in others in their own family.
It is a little-known fact that most ADHD sufferers are creative types. In fact, there are several celebrities that suffer from the mental condition. Justin Timberlake (singer, actor and producer) is one example.
There is evidence of high rates of ADHD among drug users. The drugs are used to slow down the thought processes so that the patient can function. However, drugs come with complications of their own, which can be hard on the impatient, impulsive, inattentive ADHD patient. Rehab takes time, a concept that many with ADHD have issues with.
ADHD may be complicated by food sensitivities and allergies. For this reason, nutritional services are often provided to children and families touched by the condition.
No matter what your condition may consist of, you can start to control the disorder with medical intervention along with some lifestyle and habit changes.