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20 ADHD: The Series – Introduction

Since my recent diagnosis, life has been a whirlwind. I’ve found myself grappling with a loss of confidence, unsure how to process everything. Weirdly, this experience has impacted me much more than my first diagnosis in 2020, and I can’t quite figure out why. I often turn to writing when I feel low or lost, and now seems like the right time to start sharing my journey with ADHD.

 

While ADHD is often more discussed than ASD, there’s still a lot of misunderstanding about what it truly means. Many people think it’s just about being hyperactive or having trouble concentrating, but there’s so much more beneath the surface. So, through a series of blog posts, I want to shed light on the complexities of ADHD and what it means to me, to hopefully help others understand it better.

 

What is ADHD?

 

ADHD, or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, is a condition characterized by specific behavioural patterns. Individuals with ADHD often exhibit persistent inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity that interferes with daily activities (ADHD UK). What is often overlooked in defining ADHD is that it also involves a developmental impairment of executive functions, which are the self-management systems of the brain. I won’t delve into too much detail about this now, as I wouldn’t want to overwhelm you, but you can read more about it in my next blog, which will be coming out soon!

 


ADHD can be categorized into three types: inattentive, hyperactive, or combined. In the figure below, you can see the estimated prevalence of different types of ADHD (CDC).


According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), used for diagnosis, an individual must exhibit six or more symptoms to be diagnosed with a type of ADHD. During my assessment, it was noted that I exhibited at least six symptoms of each type, resulting in a diagnosis of combined type ADHD (both inattentive and hyperactive). There is a large range of symptoms listed in the DSM but some examples include:

 

Inattentive


  • Often fails to give close attention to details or makes careless mistakes

  • Often has trouble organising tasks or activities

  • Often does not seem to listen when spoken to directly

  • Often has trouble holding attention on tasks

 

Hyperactive


  • Often fidgets or taps

  • Often has trouble waiting their turn

  • Is often on-the-go as if driven by a motor

  • Often tasks excessively

 

What causes ADHD?

 

ADHD does not have a single cause; rather, it is believed to result from a combination of genetic and environmental factors, with genetic influences accounting for 70-80% of the likelihood (Journal of Learning Disabilities).

 

Individuals with ADHD fall under the umbrella term of neurodivergent. Neurodivergent individuals often experience comorbidities, meaning they may have multiple neurodivergent conditions simultaneously. For instance, up to 80% of autistic individuals also have ADHD (Panagiotidi, M. et al.), compared to an incidence rate of approximately 5% in the general population (ADHD UK).

 

Treatment

 

ADHD medication is a common topic of discussion, particularly because there have been instances where neurotypical individuals have acquired and abused these medications for purposes such as academic performance enhancement. Recently, there has also been significant news coverage about the current shortage of ADHD medication, which has had a detrimental impact on those who rely on it.

 

However, it is important to note that not all individuals with ADHD will require or choose to use medication. Treatment plans are often tailored to an individual’s specific needs and circumstances. Moreover, there are various medications available for ADHD, and the choice of medication is made on an individual basis, considering the unique requirements of each person.

 

What is next for this series?

 

My newfound diagnosis has left me with much to discuss. As mentioned, I plan to create a series of blog posts, each focusing on a different important theme. So, what can you look forward to? Here are some of my planned blogs. If you haven’t heard of these terms, please don’t be discouraged. Not long ago, I was in the same position, and now I’m educating an entire community! If you have any specific requests, please don’t hesitate to drop me a message.

 

-              Executive dysfunction

-              Pathological demand avoidance (PDA)

-              Rejection sensitive dysphoria (RSD)

-              A day in the life of an individual with ADHD

 

 Thanks,

Nidhi :)


 

References

 

ADHD UK. (n.d.). About ADHD. Retrieved from https://adhduk.co.uk/about-adhd/

 

American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). American Psychiatric Publishing.

 

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020). Data and statistics about ADHD. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/adhd/data.html

 

Journal of Learning Disabilities. (n.d.). Genetic and environmental influences on ADHD. Retrieved from https://journals.sagepub.com/home/ldx

 

Panagiotidi, M., Overton, P.G. and Stafford, T. (2019) Co-occurrence of ASD and ADHD traits in an adult population. Journal of Attention Disorders, 23 (12). pp. 1407-1415. ISSN 1087-0547

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