Have you often felt like you are underachieving? Unable to focus on tasks? Messy and disorganised? Perhaps people have called you lazy, unmotivated.
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, or ADHD, is often associated with children- it calls to mind excited kids fidgeting in their seats or bouncing off the walls. But it persists into adulthood, and often goes undetected. Although affecting one in 20 under-18s, half of them are undiagnosed.
Why is ADHD so under-diagnosed?
When you were young, were you often scolded for being the troublemaker in class, or had difficulty concentrating in school?
As parents and teachers tend to dismiss symptoms of ADHD as “normal behaviour in children”, the ADHD doesn’t get diagnosed or treated – until early adolescence or occasionally, early adulthood, when it interferes with the individual’s social and professional lives, says Dr Poornima Gangaram, consultant from the Institute of Mental Health’s Department of Psychosis.
“This is mostly true for inattentive symptoms, which become more evident with increasing educational and occupational demands. Young children also often have difficulties in self-reporting problems pertinent to ADHD.”
Hyperactivity is a huge part of ADHD, but so is inattention, which often goes unnoticed. Maybe your friends and bosses have called you blur, and you often catch yourself drifting off easily when others are talking. It’s a common symptom of ADHD; if it interferes with your work and life, maybe it’s time to consider consulting a medical professional.
It’s a widespread misconception that ADHD equates to disruption in classrooms; a more common presentation is anxiety and difficulty with learning. “A kid with ADHD may be well-behaved and academically able,” says Tony Lloyd of the ADHD Foundation. Recognising that there is an issue and providing the appropriate support is important.
“It may sound strange but being diagnosed with ADHD (and discovering that I have had it all my life) has actually been a blessing.”
Many who are diagnosed with ADHD in adulthood express relief upon finding out that it’s not just them- but their issues with productivity and other aspects of work and life have a concrete reason.
People with neurodevelopmental disorders such as ADHD, autism, dyslexia, dyspraxia and dyscalculia have brains that are structurally and functionally different to those of neurotypical people.
People with ADHD aren’t lazy or unmotivated, their minds work differently. Interestingly, those with ADHD are also able to hyperfocus, getting so engrossed in a certain task that they tune out everything else around them.
Adult ADHD is often treated with a multi-pronged approach that includes counselling, cognitive behavioural therapy, medication, et cetera. They can be greatly helpful, for instance in bettering organisational skills at work.
If any of the things mentioned above sound familiar to you, and these symptoms really affect your life significantly, maybe you should check it out. It would be a huge burden off your shoulders, and finding the right treatment might improve many aspects of your life.