By Cynthia Wairimu
Have you ever felt like you’re constantly being criticized, nagged, and micromanaged? That no matter what you do, nothing seems to please those around you. You don’t feel respected as an adult. You end up saying whatever you have to in order to get people off your back. You wish others could relax even a little bit and stop trying to control every aspect of your life.
If you have maybe you should be tested for ADHD (Attention Deficient hyperactivity Disorder). This is a mental disorder, a complex neurodevelopmental disorder brought by differences in brain development and activity that cause a persistent pattern of inattention, inability to sit still and impulsivity/hyperactivity that interferes with normal day to day functioning.
ADHD often goes unrecognised throughout childhood. Mostly, instead of recognising the symptoms and identifying the real issue, family or friends and teachers may label one as a dreamer, goof-off, slacker, troublemaker, or just a bad student.
What are the signs and symptoms of ADHD?
The biggest is inattention, where one might notice that they can hardly complete a task either at school, work, or a project. They are easily distracted and lose focus easily. They seem not to listen for long or will interrupt mid-sentence and maybe even change the topic. They have problems organising tasks and are easily forgetful. They may also lose things needed for a task and will avoid or not follow through with something that requires mental focus for a long period of time. They make careless mistakes, or seem not to be directly paying attention.
The other is hyperactivity/impulsivity. This will be so problematic as to affect functioning or does not match up to one’s developmental level. This person will fidget a lot and have trouble staying still or remaining seated and will start climbing or moving about. Mostly for adults this will register with restlessness. They will blurt out answers before the question is complete or have trouble waiting their turn. They are unable to take part in leisure activities quietly.
How ADHD presents itself
Symptoms may change over time and ergo the presentations as well. In adults, only five instead of six symptoms can be used to diagnose the condition. They will also vary with age, for instance, restlessness in adult may be present by one waring out people with their activity. Diagnosis requires review by a medical practitioner such as a paediatrician for children, a seasoned psychologist or a psychiatrist with expertise on ADHD.
Symptoms of ADHD can be mistaken for emotional or disciplinary problems or missed entirely in quiet, well-behaved children, leading to a delay in diagnosis. Adults with undiagnosed ADHD may have a history of poor academic performance, problems at work, or difficult or failed relationships.
While scientists aren’t sure exactly what causes ADHD, several factors can put one at risk of getting it such as; brain injuries, exposure to toxic environments such as mining environment for instance high levels of lead, cigarette smoking, alcohol or drug use during pregnancy, low birth weight and genetics.
ADHD is more common in males than females, and females with ADHD are more likely to have problems primarily with inattention. Other conditions, such as learning disabilities, anxiety disorder, conduct disorder, depression, and substance abuse, are common in people with ADHD.
Coping or treating ADHD
One is medication, which needs to be observed closely by the doctor. The medication will help with the hyperactivity and improve focus, reduce impulsivity and may even help with physical coordination. Different combinations are used until the right one is found for an individual.
Two is use of stimulants. This is so there is an increase of necessary chemicals in the brain such as dopamine which play important roles in attention and thinking. However, this should be administered carefully as they can raise blood pressure and increase anxiety. For someone with conditions such as seizures, glaucoma and heart disease, it is important to tell the doctor beforehand. It is crucial to talk with a doctor if you see any of these or other side effects while taking stimulants: decreased appetite, sleep problems, tics (sudden, repetitive movements or sounds), personality changes, increased anxiety, irritability, stomach aches and headaches.
Non stimulants are medications that take longer to start working than stimulants, but can also improve focus, attention, and impulsivity in a person with ADHD. Doctors may prescribe a non-stimulant: when a person has bothersome side effects from stimulants; when a stimulant was not effective; or in combination with a stimulant to increase effectiveness.
Therapies are crucial to go along with medication. Different therapeutic exercises are advised, for instance: cognitive behavioural therapy focused on modifying negative thoughts, behaviours, and emotional responses associated with psychological distress; support groups, where one shares with a group concerning shared problems like depression and weight loss etc.; counselling, to help with personal problems and work issues; anger management, practising mindfulness of others, coping mechanisms and trigger avoidance to minimise emotional outbursts and; family therapy, to help resolve conflicts and fix communication.
Natural remedies have also been seen to help, for instance, eating healthy, reduced screen time on TV, phone, computers, getting enough sleep, at least an hour of physical exercise
If one feels their child, loved one or anyone might be exhibiting at least five of these symptoms for at least 6 months, please be advised to consult a specialist. While it has no cure, it can be managed.