Adults can also have at­ten­tion deficit dis­or­der

Weekend Argus (Sunday Edition) - - HEALTH - LATOYA NEW­MAN

IN­CON­SIS­TENCY, inat­ten­tive­ness, hy­per­ac­tiv­ity, im­pul­sive­ness, rest­less­ness, turn­ing small prob­lems into big ones, self-cen­tred­ness.

A ma­ture per­son who has these traits may be suf­fer­ing from adult at­ten­tion deficit hy­per­ac­tiv­ity dis­or­der.

He­lena Bester, a neu­rother­a­pist and lead­ing ex­pert on at­ten­tion deficit hy­per­ac­tiv­ity dis­or­der (ADHD), said many adults who suf­fered from the dis­or­der might not be aware of it. ADHD was a com­plex dis­or­der with 18 symp­toms. The three main ones were inat­ten­tive­ness, hy­per­ac­tiv­ity and im­pul­sive­ness.

“Although, of­fi­cially, sta­tis­tics in­di­cate that the in­ci­dence of ADHD among adults is lower (than in chil­dren), we have to re­mem­ber that stats are based on those who have been di­ag­nosed. With chil­dren it’s any­where be­tween 5% to 10%; with adults it’s of­fi­cially 2%. Ac­cord­ing to the Amer­i­can Jour­nal of Psy­chi­a­try ADHD among adults in the US is at 4.4%,” she said.

“We typ­i­cally see that (adults with ADHD) strug­gle to hold down a job. They of­ten miss out on pro­mo­tion be­cause they don’t have en­durance and are not con­sis­tent in what they do. We of­ten find ir­re­spon­si­ble sex­ual be­hav­iour. A group of them are quite ex­plo­sive. They won’t be bla­tantly ex­plo­sive... but they hold things in and if cir­cum­stances are favourable, then they are okay. But when there is a prob­lem, they’ll have these ex­plo­sive re­ac­tions. We also see in­ter­mit­tent ex­plo­sive­ness all day.”

Bester said other in­di­ca­tors were a strug­gle to man­age money and to reach goals. “They have all these good in­ten­tions, but never get to it. They have zero con­cept of time; they’re not gov­erned by the 24-hour cy­cle that most of us are gov­erned by. They get com­pletely wrapped up in what they are do­ing. So much so that they even for­get to takes breaks or have some­thing to drink. They won’t re­alise they are thirsty or hun­gry. Another thing with the ADHD adult is that they don’t do well with prob­lems. When there is a prob­lem that they are sup­posed to solve as adults, they turn it into a big­ger prob­lem.”

Bester said the in­ci­dence of ADHD was slightly higher among men, lead­ing to re­la­tion­ship fail­ure. “The di­vorce rate is much higher among the adult ADHD pop­u­la­tion. And what is sad is the lack of un­der­stand­ing. The adult ADHD pa­tient may of­ten ap­pear to be self-cen­tred, self­ish – peo­ple who are not re­li­able. But that is def­i­nitely not the com­plete pic­ture. Adult ADHD is not just a few symp­toms. It’s a neu­ro­chem­i­cal im­bal­ance. It in­volves the dopamine struc­tures in the brain and it is treat­able. But you can only man­age some­thing that you un­der­stand.”

As far as treat­ments go, she said: “Some­times it is re­ally as sim­ple as get­ting med­i­ca­tion. But for­tu­nately we are not where we were say 10 years ago with ADHD, when med­i­ca­tion was ba­si­cally the only op­tion. Now we also have neu­ro­feed­back, which is a vi­able al­ter­na­tive – a form of brain train­ing or con­di­tion­ing. Then there are the talk ther­a­pies. Of­ten cog­ni­tive be­hav­iour ther­apy works rel­a­tively well, to help peo­ple man­age their lives. It’s also im­por­tant that they be re­al­is­tic about get­ting enough sleep and a healthy diet. There’s a lot that peo­ple say about diet and ADHD. The wrong food and in­cor­rect eat­ing habits can­not cre­ate ADHD, but they can def­i­nitely make the symp­toms worse.”

Bester said: “Of­ten the ADHD per­son has bril­liant ideas. They are very cre­ative, of­ten the cen­tre of at­ten­tion at a party. They are won­der­ful peo­ple. But to live in close prox­im­ity with them can be trau­matic if the dis­or­der is not un­der­stood. You don’t walk around with high blood pres­sure with­out get­ting treat­ment for it. This is no dif­fer­ent and it’s im­por­tant to have it di­ag­nosed.”


Adults with ADHD have a neu­ro­chem­i­cal im­bal­ance for which new treat­ments are avail­able.

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