October is ADHD Awareness Month.
Although ADHD is one of the most commonly diagnosed conditions (9.4% in children and 4.4% in adults), it is also surrounded by lots of myths and misinformation.
ADHD is shorthand for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Many people, including some mental health professionals, continue to use an older name for this condition. Some people say, “well, I’m not hyperactive, I don’t have the ‘H’ part, I just have ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder).” Much research has shown, however, that this is really a singular condition with several different “presentations.” The DSM-5, which is the most recent edition of the “bible” used by mental health professionals when diagnosing mental health conditions, makes this clear.
These “presentations” are why the same condition can affect different people — boys and girls, children and adults — in different ways. They explain why one person may be more hyperactive and another may be more inattentive, or why the same person may be more hyperactive as a child and more inattentive as an adult.
Before moving to SWFL, I was the director of the National Resource Center on ADHD: A Program of CHADD. CHADD is a non-profit that seeks to support individuals and families affected by ADHD, educate the public about this health condition, and also advocate for better public and social policies to minimize the condition’s impact. Providing such education is one of the goals of this blog.
If we look at a list of symptoms for ADHD, most of us will recognize some things that all of us do, at least occasionally. What’s important in making a diagnosis of ADHD is whether the symptoms are age-appropriate and whether they are of such severity and frequency that they interfere with life.
Does this list remind you of anyone you know, or maybe yourself?
- Has difficulty paying attention to detail.
- Has difficulty sustaining attention on tasks.
- Seems not to listen when spoken to directly.
- Has difficulty following instructions.
- Has difficulty organizing tasks and activities.
- Avoids or dislikes tasks that require mental effort over a long period of time.
- Loses things necessary for tasks and activities.
- Is easily distracted.
- Is forgetful in daily activities.
- Is often unable to play or take part in leisure activities quietly.
- Is often “on the go” and acting as if “driven by a motor”.
- Talks excessively.
- Blurts out an answer before a question has been completed.
- Has trouble waiting their turn.
- Interrupts or intrudes on others (e.g., butts into conversations or games)
If any of these sound too familiar or are causing trouble in your life, your work, or your relationships, maybe you should speak with a mental health professional to see what help is available.
Pax et bonum!