ADHD -The elephant in the room

ADHD -The elephant in the room

What is ADHD?

Attention deficient/hyperactivity disorder is a severe neurodevelopmental condition that affects both children and adults. It’s a ‘neurodevelopmental’ condition because it relates to the way the brain functions and develops. While the exact causes of ADHD are not clear, scientists are working round the clock to find it out.

ADHD affects 8.4% of children and 2.5% of adults, which means that it’s common in children than in adults. Another thing to know is that boys are more than twice as likely to have ADHD as girls. Reports show that ADHD is related to Opposition Defiant Disorder, a condition in which a child opposes higher authorities. Moreover, about 40% of children with ADHD have ODD. 

ADHD in children

Let’s discuss the behaviours exhibited by individuals having this disorder.

Symptoms of ADHD

The most common symptom is having trouble focusing. All victims are easily distracted when performing their tasks. Some talk too much or are hyperactive. Other behaviours seen in people with this disorder are:

  • Daydreaming
  • Difficulty relating with others
  • Forgetfulness
  • Weak impulse control
  • Poor time management
  • Restlessness
  • Making careless mistakes
  • Difficulty resisting temptation
  • Not listening when talked to
  • Low self-esteem

Nonetheless, ADHD is neither a mental illness nor a behaviour disorder but rather a developmental disability of the brain’s self-management.

Classification of ADHD

The classification of ADHD is based on the symptoms manifested by the affected individuals. Nine symptoms have been identified in each of the first and second categories.

The first category of ADHD is The Primarily Inattentive type. People with this disorder have challenges sustaining focus, organising their tasks, and following instructions. Furthermore, they are forgetful, easily distracted, and procrastinate.

The nine symptoms of Primarily Inattentive type are:

  1. Failing to give close attention to details or making silly mistakes at school or work.
  2. Inability to remain focused in class or during a conversation.
  3. Inability to listen even when spoken to directly.
  4. Avoiding tasks that require mental efforts.
  5. Difficulty organising tasks, materials, or tools; poor time management and missing deadlines.
  6. Failing to follow instructions, inability to complete assigned works, chores, and duties.
  7. Misplacing items such as notebooks, pencils, keys, and wallets that are needed for productivity.
  8. Easily getting distracted by irrelevant kinds of stuff.
  9. Forgetting to do daily activities such as school assignments, chores or to return calls.

To give an illustration, imagine a child who never remembers to take his notes from home to school. He doesn’t remember to deliver visitors’ messages to his parents, and it seems he’s letting them down.

He often goes to his room and then forgets what he has gone to take. Not only does he do that, he as well forgets half of what his parents send him to buy whenever they send him to a shop.

He tries to quickly say what’s on his mind during conversations by interrupting others so that he won’t forget it, and everybody concludes, ”he’s rude.”

Finally, for the same reason, he keeps in mind what he wants to say when you are talking to him, hindering him from paying attention to you.

Think of another person—a girl who doesn’t seem to understand topics after several attempts of teaching her. Assimilating is a constant struggle for her. She thinks the works are so complex, feels stressed or anxious, and tries to avoid them.

She often struggles to update her notes or listen for long during lectures. Failing to submit home-works early is her custom, and she often forgets it at home.

She doesn’t like most of her teachers and loses enthusiasm upon seeing them. Most importantly, She is easily distracted and tends to look towards the direction of distraction at every opportunity, e.g. when something drops from her classmate, she must see who the person is and where the object drops.

Those are case studies of Primarily Inattentive type of ADHD. There is no doubt that you’re thinking of someone who manifests some of these symptoms. I’ll discuss the treatment later in this article.

The second type of ADHD is Primarily Hyperactive-Impulsive type and characterised by:

  1. Fidgety
  2. Not sitting when everybody is expected to sit
  3. Climbing or running about where and when it is inappropriate
  4. Playing or doing other activities loudly
  5. Restlessness
  6. Excessive talking
  7. Interrupting people who are talking to them; intruding on others.
  8. Difficulty waiting for their turn (while in a queue)
  9. Saying the answers when questions are still being asked and completing people’s sentences.

The Primarily hyperactive-impulsive type of ADHD is much easier to observe than the Primarily inattentive type. This is because victims of the Primarily hyperactive type of ADHD tend to disrupt learning or work, unlike victims of the Primarily inattentive type who do not disrupt activities.

Here’s an instance of the Primarily hyperactive-impulsive type of ADHD.

Think of someone who loves starting things but not finishing them. He gets bored easily and loves jumping from one task to another. When you’re watching the TV together, he constantly switches the channels.

Relationships? Today, he discovers a good girl who is his perfect match and discovers another one the next day and it goes on like this. 

He loves driving and finds it exciting but struggles to stick to the speed limit. He gets impatient with slower drivers and gets angry easily with other road users. Then again, he fiddles with his mobile phone to fight his boredom while driving.

It’s possible that he’s now frustrated and thinks nothing is working for him. He fidgets so much in the office place that he irritates his colleagues. He also struggles to focus at school or work. 

Now, think of a lady who finds it hard to manage her finances. She wants to buy everything urgently. She buys the latest stuff that she doesn’t need and has difficulty prioritising her needs. Upon purchasing these stuff, she becomes uninterested in having them.

She feels disappointed and becomes even more frustrated!

It’s worthy of note that an individual must exhibit at least six of the symptoms of Primarily hyperactive and Primarily inattentive disorders for at least six months before ADHD can be confirmed.

The third and most common category of ADHD is the combined type. Individuals in this category combine the symptoms of both Primarily inattentive and Primarily hyperactive disorders.

An individual in this category must display at least six symptoms in each of the first two categories. However, these behaviours vary by individuals.

ADHD

Treatment Of ADHD

The treatment of ADHD is done either by Therapy or Medication. 

By therapy

 The goal of this method is to remove ADHD disorder without using drugs. It involves getting assistance from support groups, anger management, family therapy, psychoeducation, and others.

  • Support groups provide counselling and support for people affected by ADHD. The common ones are Attention Deficient Disorder Association and Children and Adults with Attention-Deficient/Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD)
  • Anger management therapy aims at controlling and preventing anger. Victims can recognise the signs of anger and how to handle them.
  • Psychoeducation is the process of providing education and information to victims of ADHD and their family members. This helps them to have a thorough understanding of their challenges and the solutions to them.
  • Family therapy is a form of psychological counselling that helps family members resolve conflicts. It involves conflict resolution and problem-solving.

By medication

Stimulants: The use of Stimulants such as Methylphenidate and Amphetamines is the most common treatment of ADHD. This must, however, be done under close supervision.

Non-Stimulants:  Atomoxetine and Guanfacine are examples of non-stimulants that can help.

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