Between Your Ears #04: “All About ADHD”

Main Topic: In this episode, I tackle eight different myths about attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Before we start…what is ADHD? There are two different subtypes: hyperactive/impulsive & inattentive. Hyperactive/impulsive may include such symptoms as fidgeting, restlessness/difficulty sitting still, excessively loud, interrupts or intrudes, act without thinking, etc. Inattentive may include failing to give close attention to details, does not seem to listen, difficulty organizing tasks, losing objects, forgetful, etc.

1. ADHD is not a real disorder – Oh yes it is! 🙂 The difficulty in understanding and diagnosing ADHD is that the symptoms are most extreme versions of challenges that everyone faces on a day-to-day basis. For example, everybody gets bored from time to time, but if a person finds them-self unable to focus on anything that is not enjoyable, it becomes debilitating and can reduce their quality of life. Furthermore, ADHD is a neurobiological disorder that is recognized by the medical and psychiatric professions.

2. ADHD is caused by bad parenting – Donít blame the parents, for Peteís sake! Bless their hearts for loving their children and putting up with them all the time. ìThat boy needs some discipline!î That wonít help the boy any more than it would help him hear if he were deaf. It’s a neurological disorder. Having said that, environment DOES play a role in ADHD and how the child/adult manages their symptoms. Some factors can aggravate symptoms and make them worse.

3. You have to be hyperactive to have ADHD – As said before, there are two categories: hyperactive/impulsive, and inattentive. Inattentive (ADD) is really the same disorder as ADHD. Inattentive individuals are more commonly undiagnosed because they are often overlooked. However, the effects of the impulsive subtype are just as harmful to the individual.

4. ADHD is a kidís disorder – Approximately half of children with ADHD will experience symptoms in adulthood. Diagnosis may not occur until later in life, especially if academic performance does not suffer dramatically, or if the person suffers from inattentive subtype.

5. ADHD individuals are lazy and stupid – ADHD has nothing to do with intelligence. The decreased ability to sustain attention may hinder their performance on tests that measure performance however. Theyíre not lazy, or lack self-control. They are simply unable to direct or sustain their attention as well as those without ADHD.

6. ADHD is a male disorder – This is not true either. The symptoms may just be slightly different, as girls are more commonly diagnosed with inattentive type. This is commonly perceived as a girl being ditzy, spacey, or poor academically. Undiagnosed girls are more prone to self-esteem issues, depression or anxiety.

7. ADHD meds lead to drug addiction – Quite the opposite is true. Those who are undiagnosed or unmedicated may be more likely to self-medicate with alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs. Stimulant medications, when taken as prescribed, are not addictive. This is due to small doses and duration between drug administration and effectiveness.

8. ADHD is cured by medication – First off, it doesnít ìcureî it, it helps manage symptoms. Between 70-75% of those with ADHD who take medication report positive effects in managing their symptoms (around 1 in 4 have no response to meds). Medication is not the only strategy. Other treatment options include: exercise/healthy diet, planning/organizational techniques, reducing the amount of time interacting with technology/video games, meditation/relaxation.

E-MAIL: Robert from asked about amnesia in movies. I’m planning on dedicating an entire episode to this down the line, but in the mean time, its important to realize that amnesia is really a form of brain damage in the context of most movies. One can have anterograde amnesia (can’t form new memories ‡ la Memento), or retrograde amnesia (can’t access old memories ‡ la Bourne Identity). There are also two different types of memory that can be lost (declarative vs procedural memory), and these two types of memory are located in different parts of the brain. It is possible for you to lose one type of memory but not the other (forget your name but still know how to ride a bike). Want to know more about it? Wait for the amnesia episode! 😛

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