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Understanding ADHD

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Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is often diagnosed in children. Its prevalence, however, is there among adults also.

Research shows that ADHD can affect career and personal life.

ADHD is a condition that starts around the age of 3 to 7 and is carried sometimes to adulthood. However, those adapting to the new situations overcome it.

A typical child with ADHD will be all over the place unable to focus and sometimes has difficulty sitting in a classroom, completing tasks and having problems in social skills. But, according to Dr Hamed al Sinawi, usually, it is something the teacher might notice in school and alert the parents so they can take the child for an assessment.

“But in adulthood, ADHD symptoms are not easily recognised. If the symptoms have gone unnoticed, there are chances that they might develop other issues such as forgetfulness and difficulty in retaining information because they were not paying attention. So whatever you say may not stick with them,” said Dr Hamed.

There is also a tendency to become a procrastinator and prefer doing things at the last minute.

“For example, submitting an assignment or planning holidays. For them, everything is delayed. There’s also this idea that some of the symptoms are related to being distractible. So, if they are working and there is noise, they may not be able to work, and it might be difficult for them to sustain their focus. That is why sometimes we have people who could be told that they could have done better in high school. They are smart, but because of this problem, they do not reach their full potential,” he explained.

So can we say it is unfortunate that the condition is not detected earlier?

“Yes,” said Dr Hamed. “Because there are skills they could have learned. That would have helped them to overcome. They reach good positions, but some of them have told me, ‘we do have good jobs, but we could have done better because we spend a lot of time’.”

“Because of the difficulty in sustaining attention, they feel they have to do extra work such as read the statement, again and again, consuming time.”

Asked about the solution, Dr Hamed said, “Lots of information available online, and one must take time to go through if they feel symptoms. It does not just work that gets affected. It can also be personal life.”

“Sometimes symptoms might manifest in a real relationship problem. Because a husband or wife who has ADHD tend to leave things till the last minute. It can be very difficult to live it, as there is procrastination also because they are not very good at expressing their feelings or organising their work. I’m not saying that everyone procrastinating has ADHD, but it is one of the reasons. Studies also suggest that people with ADHD have twice the risk of divorce,” Dr Hamed pointed out.

One problem that very few people recognise about ADHD is its presence among adults because it is usually connected to early childhood. As a result, many are told they were slow learners, and they accepted it and learnt to live with it.”

What is actually happening to people with ADHD?

“One of the theories is that there is a balance or lack of particular neurotransmitters. The brain uses chemicals for different areas to work with each other and communicate. In ADHD, there is usually a reduction in dopamine. Dopamine keeps us interested and motivated and is one of the happiness hormones. You get dopamine when you exercise. Sometimes eating certain food elevates one’s mood. The other important part is norepinephrine, which makes you aware of time and being mindful,” explained Dr Hamed.

People with ADHD also might lack certain social skills, so they might interrupt a lot during a conversation because of what the experts explain as impulsivity.

“They cannot wait for their turn or understand their social cues. Sometimes these incidents can affect a person’s chance of being promoted at work,” noted the senior psychiatrist.

He said that most people today read about the condition online and then seek therapy, or at times, it is because they have seen the way their children act in a certain way, and when children get an assessment and treatment, the child is improved. “This is when it hits them that they might have symptoms with similar conditions, and they realise. “What I have is not because I am not good enough, but it is because of the condition I have,” he said.

Getting the diagnosis is very reassuring for the person, pointed out Dr Hamed.


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