By Edeline Anne Goh
Globally, it is believed that ADHD affects about 3 percent to 5 percent of the world’s population.
When it comes to Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), the spotlight is usually focused on children but the truth is, when left undiagnosed or untreated, ADHD symptoms are often carried into adolescence and adulthood.
ADHD is a condition characterised by inattention, hyperactivity and/or impulsivity. Mental health professionals use the criteria listed in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual to diagnose a person displaying multiple symptoms that persist for more than 6 months.
There are three subtypes of ADHD depending on the pattern of behaviour demonstrated by the patient: Primarily Inattentive, Primarily Hyperactive or the Combined, which is a combination of symptoms. Those with ADHD tend to have average or above average intelligence but they also have a different way of processing and organising information in their minds, managing impulses and staying focused.
In some cases, neither you nor your parents may suspect you have ADHD as a child, until the condition starts to affect your life as you get older and pick up more responsibilities. This will eventually result in you consulting a medical expert as you feel that things are starting to get out of hand. For instance, you might constantly miss work deadlines, which could jeopardize your career or you could be paying your bills late every single month, leaving you with unwanted late payment fees.
When you finally decide to see your doctor, she may ask a number of questions including: “Did you experience ADHD symptoms when you were young?” or “Do you have a family member who has been diagnosed with ADHD?”
Adults with ADHD who have unresolved symptoms that originated during childhood, are more likely to have a history of work and relationship challenges that may affect self-esteem, performance as well as opportunities in life.
For some, the symptoms of ADHD may decrease as they get older. However, up to 60 percent of ADHD patients will experience symptoms all through their lives. That’s why it is vital that you seek help from a doctor if you experience any ADHD symptoms such as:
- Chronic lateness and forgetfulness
- Poor organisational skills
- Low self-esteem
- Problems holding down a job
- Quick to anger
- Unthinking and immediate response to external stimuli
- Difficulty controlling behavior
- Difficulties paying attention or listening to others
If you said yes to most of the symptoms above and have not consulted a doctor, you are advised to do so.
It is important not to self-diagnose as these symptoms could easily be pointing to some other condition or they could be symptoms of plain, old stress. That’s why it is best to consult a doctor who will help you identify your condition and manage your symptoms.
Treatment for ADHD
There is no cure for ADHD but there are various treatments that can help you manage the symptoms. However, these treatments vary from individual to individual and what has been prescribed to an adult may not be recommended for children or teenagers with the condition. ADHD treatments include:
- Stimulant medications
- Non stimulant medications
- Drug treatments
Although these medications have had positive effects to help patients deal with the symptoms, they may also have unwanted side effects such as a decrease in appetite, difficulties sleeping or headaches. If you are under treatment for ADHD, be sure to notify your doctor immediately if your condition worsens or if you feel less than your best after consuming any prescribed medication.
To enhance the positive effects of medication, lifestyle modifications and educational platforms tailored for ADHD patients can help. These include:
- Behavioral interventions
- Parent training and education
- Educational support
To date, researchers are still in the midst of finding a way to prevent ADHD. While there is no definite preventative method at the moment, genetics is believed to be a possible link to an increased chance of ADHD.
Most importantly, it is best to have a clear understanding of this condition and be on the lookout for symptoms of ADHD as it will help you make sense of your life so you can step on the path to greater wellbeing and success.
Celebs with ADHD
Although ADHD is a serious diagnosis, it does not guarantee a bleak future. Don’t be let down by it because living with ADHD does not automatically mean you are a failure. Here’s a list of famous and successful people who have symptoms of ADHD or have been diagnosed with ADHD:
- Actors: Tom Cruise, Jim Carrey, Sylvester Stallone
- Musicians: Elvis Presley, Justin Timberlake, Mozart
- Artists: Vincent Van Gogh and Pablo Picasso
- Business tycoons: Bill Gates, Walt Disney and Malcolm Forbes
- Movie directors: Steven Spielberg and Alfred Hitchcock
- Statesmen: John F. Kennedy, Winston Churchill and Abraham Lincoln
- Scientist/Inventors: Leonardo Da Vinci, Alexander Graham Bell, Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein and Benjamin Franklin.
Get Some Help for ADHD
Require more information or help on ADHD? You can start by visiting these websites:
- Malaysian Psychiatric Association
- Family Support Group for ADHD/LD