October is ADHD, or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder awareness month, providing us with the opportunity to highlight this mental health condition and provide support to those who care for people with the disorder.
ADHD is a condition that affects people’s behaviour. It can manifest as restlessness and people affected may have trouble concentrating and may act on impulse. Most cases are diagnosed when children are between six and twelve years old, but are more recently being diagnosed in older adults, particularly women in their 40s and 50s.
Nobody can emerge from a positive diagnosis as the same person they were before, but it is possible to learn to embrace the diagnosis rather than endure it. In fact, there are many benefits to accepting such a diagnosis, including the ability to thrive in situations that others cannot and recognising that the condition is not a moral failing.
Trigger author Emma Mahony was diagnosed when she was 51. It came as both a shock and a relief to be able to finally make sense of her life.
In her book Better Late Than Never, Emma takes the reader on her journey from diagnosis to getting help and embracing the condition, demonstrating how you too can thrive beyond diagnosis.
10 things to know about ADHD
1) ADHD was first described as “minimal brain dysfunction”, then “hyperkinetic disorder”. In 2004 it became ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder), and now is generally termed ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder).
2) The three traits of ADHD are impulsivity, restlessness, and distractibility.
3) Many successful entrepreneurs, comedians, actors, sportsmen, artists, and musicians have ADHD. These include entrepreneur Richard Branson, comedian Rory Bremner, actors Johnny Depp, Channing Tatum and Emma Watson, Olympian Michael Phelps, racing driver Lewis Hamilton, and musician Will.i.am.
4) Although it is commonly thought to be a behavioural disorder, ADHD is actually a neurodevelopmental disorder, which means that it develops beyond your control. Therefore, ADHD does not originate from a variety of myths, such as poor parenting, an abundance of time spent watching TV or eating too much junk food.
5) ADHD is similar in heritability to height. Around 80% of cases are inherited from one or both parents.
6) ADHD affects 3–8% of the population, regardless of gender or race. However, boys are three times more likely to be diagnosed than girls. 90% of children or teens with ADHD experience classroom behavioural or emotional problems, peer relationship problems in school, low academic attainment, school suspensions, or expulsions.
7) If left undiagnosed and untreated, it can develop into the more serious Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) or conduct disorder.
8) People with ADHD have lower levels of the brain chemical dopamine, which regulates movement and attention, and is linked to addiction. ADHD does not affect intelligence.
9) Around 20% of the prison population suffers from undiagnosed ADHD, according to a study by the UK Adult ADHD network.
10) Unlike other neurodevelopmental conditions, such as autism, ADHD can be safely treated with medication (and diet, exercise, and lifestyle changes).
This extract is from Better Late Than Never by Emma Mahony(Trigger Publishing, £12.99)