Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, also known as ADHD, is a behavioural disorder that includes symptoms such as inattentiveness, hyperactivity and impulsiveness. A person can have all the symptoms together or just some of them.
Symptoms of ADHD tend to be noticed at an early age, usually between 6 and 12 years old, and may become more noticeable when a child’s circumstances change, such as when they start school, as they become more evident the moment the child has to deliver some tasks or engage in some activities.
I really care about this disorder as I have been diagnosed with ADHD myself. I was diagnosed late, when I was in my 40’s, and not because I was feeling that there was something wrong with me, but because a psychiatrist, who I am friends with, told me my mannerisms and way of behaving were reflecting the ADHD spectrum. Therefore, I went to be tested and I discovered I was ranking very high on the spectrum. I had something like an 80% score. In the UK very few people are in such a high range of the spectrum. I was then given medication to take, but I probably took it for about 15 days and then stopped. I was not feeling myself. I didn’t have my quick thinking anymore, I was feeling very slow. I never thought I had some disorder, as I didn’t have any real terms of comparison, or any problems related to it. I have always been a fast thinker, always on my feet, not able to stay still. That for me was normality as I had lived like this for 46 years. This sounds a bit unusual, but when I was younger the diagnostic tools were different and it was probably much more complicated to diagnose behavioural disorders. I now understand, that all this struggling in staying still, watching a movie, going to the theatre, was caused by ADHD. To stay still I really need to concentrate a lot.
This disorder is characterised by an early life onset in some cases, which can develop into a less severe case of the disorder later in life. Despite this, many adults who were diagnosed with the condition at a young age continue to experience problems, even later in life. The other very important thing to note is that people with ADHD usually suffer with anxiety and sleep disorders.
The exact cause of ADHD is unknown, but the condition has been shown to run in families, so it seems that genetics may play some role in it.Research has also identified a number of possible differences in the brains of people with ADHD when compared with those people without the condition.
Other factors suggested as potentially having a role in ADHD include:
- being born prematurely (before the 37th week of pregnancy)
- having a low birth weight
- smoking, alcohol or drug abuse during pregnancy
ADHD can occur in people of any intellectual ability, although usually it’s more common in people with learning difficulties.
What are the symptoms of ADHD in adults?
1. Lack of focus or hyperfocus
Possibly the most evident sign of ADHD, “lack of focus” goes beyond trouble paying attention. It means being easily distracted, finding it hard to engage in a conversation, overlooking details, and not completing tasks or projects. The other side to that is hyperfocus. In fact, a person with ADHD can get so concentrated on something that they can become unaware of anything else going on around them. This makes it easier to lose track of time and ignore those around you.
2. Not being very organised
People with ADHD typically have a more hectic life experience on a regular basis. This can make it difficult to keep everything under control. An adult with ADHD may struggle with organizational skills. This can include problems with keeping track of tasks and trouble prioritizing things in a logical manner.
It is normal to forget things occasionally, but if you have ADHD, forgetfulness is a part of everyday life. Sometimes forgetfulness can be annoying but unimportant; other times, it can be serious. The problem is that it can be confused with lack of care, which can give people a false impression of you.
Impulsiveness in people with ADHD can manifest in several ways:
- interrupting others during conversation
- sometimes being socially inappropriate
- rushing through tasks accomplishment
- acting without too much consideration to the consequences of actions
5. Restlessness and anxiety
As an adult with ADHD, you may feel like your engine never stops. Your yearning to keep moving and doing things can lead to frustration when you are not able to do something immediately. This leads to restlessness, which in the end can lead to frustration and anxiety.
Anxiety in fact is a very common symptom of adult ADHD, as the mind always tends to replay events we didn’t like repeatedly. (this is a very big problem when experiencing menopause, as anxiety comes very often as a menopausal symptom also).
Although there’s no definitive cure for ADHD, it can be managed with appropriate educational support, advice and support for parents and affected children, alongside some medication, if it’s really necessary. There are also people like me, diagnosed late, without any specific problem.
Medications for ADHD are now under strict control as there are some risks of adverse cardiac effects of ADHD medication. However, doctors and parents should not be alarmed and take kids off medication if they are seeing benefits from it and no cardiac symptoms arising. Doctors are monitoring constantly cardiovascular status in order to avoid adverse effects.
The inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity associated with ADHD can make it very hard for children with the disorder to learn and socialize. Stimulant drugs taken daily can help control these behaviours. Worldwide, the number of children and teens with ADHD who take stimulant medications is increasing, according to background research in the study. We still don’t know if the number of ADHD cases are increasing or it is just easier to diagnose.