6 common ADHD myths
The disorder affects around 500,000 school-aged children
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder affects around 500,000 school-aged children in the UK – that’s around 5%. It’s a complex neurological condition most commonly diagnosed in childhood. Symptoms can vary but key characteristics are a tendency to talk incessantly, inattentiveness, hyperactivity and impulsive behaviour.
‘ADHD is a condition that has been and continues to be significantly misunderstood’
‘ADHD is a condition that has been and continues to be significantly misunderstood,’ says Dr Dimitrios Paschos, Re:Cognition Health’s psychiatrist specialising in adult ADHD and related disorders. ‘It’s hard for both the public and professionals to move beyond the label of someone just having attention problems or being disruptive at school.’
Dr Paschos reveals some common myths about ADHD:
- Those with ADHD are lazy and unreliable
The reality: ‘As it’s a condition that’s not visible from the outside, people with ADHD can be labelled as lazy and unreliable and not very capable,’ says Dr Paschos. ‘The reality is that most people who have the condition are intelligent, but tend to underachieve because of the challenges they face.’
- Those with ADHD can’t develop successful careers because they can’t focus
The reality: ‘I wouldn’t agree,’ Dr Paschos says. ‘There are people with quite severe ADHD who have academic careers or leading roles in business. The trouble with ADHD is not a general lack of attention. It looks more like difficulty mobilising the ability to concentrate on demand. People with ADHD can concentrate very well, sometimes better than expected, but they don’t have a degree of control over when to focus and concentrate.’Examples of highly successful people with ADHD include Richard Branson, will.i.am, Justin Timberlake and Channing Tatum.
- Those diagnosed usually ‘grow out of it’
The reality: There is no cure for ADHD as it is a developmental condition and not an illness. Adults usually cope with the challenges of the condition better than children, so symptoms may be less obvious. ‘However, a great percentage of children with ADHD continue to experience symptoms in adulthood,’ says Dr Paschos. ‘We used to think that about two thirds of children with ADHD grow out of it, but more careful studies suggest the core symptoms remain troublesome for many more. Adults often manage to develop coping strategies and make choices that are more compatible with their ADHD. They may avoid an office job for example. Whilst they are still experiencing the same difficulties, they can adapt their lifestyle or negotiate situations much better.’
- ADHD is easy to diagnose
The reality: It’s not a simple condition to diagnose and it can be diagnosed by mistake quite easily. ‘A first screening is often just a checklist of symptoms and most people would recognise something of themselves in it,’ says Dr Paschos. ‘If a child is very lively and loud at school and can’t concentrate as long as the other children in his classroom, it’s very easy to assume they have ADHD. Generally we tend to diagnose less people with ADHD if we use detailed assessments with objective measurement of symptoms if possible. Problems with anxiety and depression often affect attention and can mimic ADHD symptoms.’
- ADHD mainly affects boys
The reality: Research indicates that more boys than girls are affected but girls tend to be under-diagnosed. ‘Girls with ADHD don’t always have the intense behavioural problems you see with boys with ADHD,’ says Dr Paschos. ‘Girls with ADHD may be quiet in the classroom and at home but they will tell you their mind is wandering all the time. They often can’t quite get things right despite their intelligence or good education. They may be quite forgetful, late or disorganised but don’t cause the level of alarm where someone says: “This is a disorder, we need to get them to a doctor”.’
- ADHD is mostly about hyperactive behaviour
Symptoms are very wide-ranging, and may affect individual sufferers in different ways…Impulsive behaviour: A person may make quick decisions often without pausing for thought: ‘We see people who have problems self-regulating and struggling with alcohol misuse or gambling, overspending or other addictive behaviours,’ says Dr Paschos. ‘It’s not just about hyperactivity or lack of attention.’
Binge eating behaviour: ‘Some people with ADHD are overweight or struggle with binge-eating behaviours. Some may have an additional eating disorder,’ says Dr Paschos.
Taking risks: A person may be more prone to putting themselves in unnecessary risky situations.
Dealing with ADHD
- Get a clear diagnosis
‘Unfortunately an incorrect diagnosis of ADHD can be made if a thorough assessment has not taken place,’ says Dr Paschos. ‘Missing a case of ADHD or diagnosing it when it is not present can be equally damaging.’
- Look at trusted sources
‘Read about it online from reliable public health information sites. If you’re worried about yourself or your child, talk to your GP and ask for an evaluation. Medication may be prescribed to relieve the symptoms and there are also many other ways to reduce the impact of ADHD symptoms that include talking therapies and lifestyle management. There are also new treatments at the stage of evaluation and the IT revolution and new technologies can help more people with ADHD achieve their full potential,’ says Dr Paschos.
Sourced from NetDoctor.co.uk