ADHD (or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder also known as ADD interchangeably) is so often misunderstood. It has almost become part of our vernacular these days. I wouldn't be surprised if it was in the dictionary! The reason I am saying this is because I feel as if I, as an expert in the field for personal and professional reasons, have a responsibility to educate in order to help set the record straight.
We do live in a "culturally-Induced ADD society today." I am the first one to say that. However, make no mistake about it: ADHD is a very real issue, and the worst part about it is not knowing that you have it. Millions of adults are really challenged today, and in working in this field for the past 13 years with business professionals, I have seen first-hand what the cost is to self-esteem, productivity and overall performance.
What I want to do today is set the record straight with a few facts that I gathered at a conference I recently attended in Washington, D.C. for ADHD Professionals.
What is ADHD?
Simply put, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a neurobiological disorder. The essential feature of ADHD is a persistent pattern of inattention OR hyperactivity/impulsivity that interferes with functioning or development. It is NOT a moral issue. It is about brain wiring and body chemistry!
According to the DSM-V (diagnostic manual used by doctors worldwide), ADHD is the proper name, although not everyone with the disorder is hyperactive. Fact.
How common is ADHD?
Contrary to popular belief, or misbelief, ADHD is not just a childhood disorder! It starts in childhood but absolutely can continue into adulthood. As a matter of fact, 4-5% of the U.S. adult population is ADHD ,and that translates conservatively to 12-15 million people. Of those, we think that 80% are undiagnosed/untreated today.
Why? Because as adults, we have been compensating for so long and are successful already. We also hate the idea of labels or stigma!
What are the Possible Causes of ADHD?
The exact cause is unknown. Researchers believe the disorder may be caused by:
- Brain Chemistry: perhaps an imbalance of two or more chemical messengers, or neurotransmitters, in the brain. Meaning that there is a physiological, real lack of chemistry, that impedes certain processes from happening.
- Genetics: Research suggests that ADHD tends to run in families.
- Environment: Certain external factors may contribute to ADHD. These include smoking and complications during pregnancy, delivery or infancy.
What parts of the brain are involved?
ADHD may be related to problems with a part of the brain called the pre-frontal cortex. Certain regions of this part of the brain may not function properly which contributes to inattention, distraction, impulsive or hyperactive behavior. I find it interesting to note that in adults the hyperactive stigma we all think of as "little boys jumping on couches" is really more about mental clutter, restless mind and too many thoughts.
Here are a few common symptoms:
- Often has difficulty paying attention to details/makes careless mistakes
- Difficulty sustaining attention
- Doesn't always listen when spoken to directly
- Challenges with organization
- Avoids tasks requiring mental effort
- Loses things
- Forgetful in daily activities
- Is always "on the go"
- Talks a lot
- Interrupts often
- Has a profusion of ideas
- Mental restlessness
I haven't written about this in a long time, and it feels great to do so as there is so much bad information out there. I hope that this helps to clarify and explain a bit more.
Having said that, you don't have to be ADD to feel like it these days!
Thanks for reading my blog, and remember: If you are feeling overwhelmed with the tsunami - ADD or not - you are in good company.