ADHD – Mental disorder of the day – Kennedy Torch

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October is Mental Illness Awareness Month, so each day I will explain a mental disorder, its effects, symptoms and how to help someone with this disorder.

A quick warning: this is not a self-diagnostic tool. It is simply a matter of educating and sensitizing others to the different types of mental disorders. Please contact a professional if you have any concerns.

October 2 – ADHD

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a medical disorder that makes people distracted, hyper, and impulsive.

It is estimated that approximately 4.4% of adults in the United States suffer from ADHD according to the National Comorbidity Survey Replication. It’s a common disorder, but it’s also easy to miss it. When diagnosing someone with ADHD, healthcare professionals look for certain behaviors, thought patterns, and moods:

  • Behviour: aggressiveness, excitability, restlessness, hyperactivity, impulsivity, irritability, lack of restraint or persistent repetition of words or actions
  • Cognitive: distraction, difficulty concentrating, forgetfulness, attention problem or short attention span
  • Mood: anger, anxiety, boredom, excitement or mood swings
  • Other: depression or learning disability

Not everyone with ADHD is diagnosed. Many go their entire lives not knowing they have ADHD because they don’t correspond to common symptoms. Because ADHD symptoms were originally modeled on male patients, women are diagnosed less often than men.

The cause of ADHD is currently unknown, although most believe it is caused by a combination of environmental and genetic factors.

Trying to function like everyone else when your mind is functioning differently can be a daily struggle. Exposure of people with ADHD:

  • Faster reaction times
  • Hyperfixation
  • Quick thoughts, usually resulting in faster speech
  • Unconsciously reflecting people
  • Forgetting
  • Only be able to focus on something that interests them
  • Constant change of thought with little or no connection between the two.

There are ways to deal with it. If a person with ADHD has trouble concentrating on a task they don’t enjoy, they can “gamify” it — reframe the task like a game in their head.

Another workaround employed by people with ADHD is known as the “one-touch rule”. They deal with something as soon as it becomes a problem. When they take something out of the fridge, instead of forgetting it and leaving it out, they remind themselves to “don’t put it down, put it away”.

These are useful coping skills, but improvement cannot happen on its own. The easiest way to help someone with ADHD is to be patient with them. Yell at someone who knows they work differently from others, and it will only get worse.

Here are other ways to help people with ADHD:

  • Encourage professional help
  • Do not parent them
  • Focus on strengths
  • Prioritize communication and find what works best for both parties
  • Solve specific problems with kindness
  • Listen to them
  • Find out what works for them
  • Learn to let go

Treatments for ADHD include therapy and medication. If you or someone you know has any concerns, contact a healthcare professional.


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