- Posted by Jon Harju
- On October 23, 2019
Chances are when you think of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), you associate it with an unmanageable child or with someone who can’t focus or sit still — stereotypes that can feed mental health stigma.
Adults with ADHD often experience their behaviours as being misunderstood. For example, a person who is perceived to make careless mistakes in the office may be labelled as unmotivated, or a person who is unable to sit still in a meeting might be seen as disrespectful.
By understanding ADHD, we can help decrease misconceptions as well as the shame and guilt a person with ADHD may feel. That’s why we’re delving into the truths about ADHD and busting some common myths.
ADHD is the most common childhood-onset psychiatric disorder under the age of 18, affecting approximately 5% of children worldwide. It was once believed that children would outgrow their diagnosis but we now know that this neurological condition can span a lifetime.
ADHD can make it hard to focus or pay attention to things of no interest – and make you more susceptible to distraction. However, when absorbed in a task that is stimulating and rewarding, people with ADHD can be laser-focused.
Those diagnosed with ADHD also often have other mental health disorders such as depression, learning disabilities, substance abuse and anxiety, to name a few.
What are the signs and symptoms of ADHD?
Adult ADHD typically shows some or many of the following symptoms:
- Disorganization and difficulty prioritizing
- Difficulty following through and completing tasks
- Poor time management skills
- Forgetfulness and trouble concentrating
- Restlessness or excessive activity
- Lack of patience
- Frequent careless mistakes
- Poor self-esteem
- Frequent mood swings
3 common ADHD myths
- ADHD is not real
The glaring myth that surrounds ADHD is that it’s not a legitimate concern. Extensive research recognizes that a person’s brain develops and functions differently with ADHD. It’s vital to remember that individuals with ADHD aren’t just lazy or unmotivated, and they don’t choose to have these symptoms. They do, however, face the challenge of learning how to manage their symptoms.
- You have to be hyperactive to have ADHD
A common symptom for children is hyperactivity, but with adults, this isn’t the case — they typically experience feeling on edge or restless. The more appropriate way to describe ADHD is a condition in which individuals have difficulty regulating their attention.
- Stimulant medications lead to substance abuse
Research has found the opposite result. If left untreated, people with ADHD are at a higher risk for substance abuse because of secondary problems (i.e. anxiety or depression) developing. The individual may self-medicate and use illicit substances to help relieve ADHD symptoms. For those who follow an appropriate treatment plan (which may include stimulant medications), the rate of substance abuse is much lower.
ADHD treatment options
ADHD symptoms can range from mild and easily controlled, to severe and disruptive. A combination treatment plan is beneficial since medication (stimulant or non-stimulant), cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and lifestyle approaches support each other’s effectiveness.
Medication coupled with CBT is particularly effective. Learning CBT skills can change unproductive thinking patterns and identify behavioural changes to help improve daily functioning. Technology has also provided meaningful support with organizational and time management challenges.
Living with ADHD
Living well with ADHD is about monitoring symptoms and discovering what strategies work best for you. If you suspect that you or a loved one has adult ADHD, it is crucial to connect with your family doctor. With the right support and treatment, you can create a rewarding life that allows you to reach your greatest potential.
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