7 things everyone should know about ADHD

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) affects 2% to 16% of all children and adolescents and nearly 4% of all South African adults. It impacts on all areas of life. And yet, not enough people know what life with ADHD is like.

October is dedicated to spreading awareness and educating others about ADHD. It’s essential to increase awareness amongst family, friends, the stranger in the elevator or even individuals living with ADHD themselves.

Research shows on average, one individual who hears a personal story or fact around ADHD repeats the story to seven others. They are likely to share the story with seven more people. Before long, hundreds of people are rethinking their ideas and assumptions about ADHD. Even better, they are talking about it.

It all starts with one person, but what do you tell them? Here are 7 facts everyone should know about ADHD:

  1. There are three core symptoms

ADHD has three core symptoms: inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity. All three present in different ways throughout a lifespan and for each person. Inattention, which speaks to difficulty paying attention as well as forgetfulness, may present in one person, while hyperactivity might be a strong symptom in another. It is important to know how the symptoms present themselves, so you can develop individualised coping mechanisms.

  1. ADHD is a common disorder that doesn’t see age, race or gender

Experts say ADHD affects all ages and sectors of the population equally. ADHD is both highly genetic and a neurodevelopmental disorder.  It is not caused by any failure, bad parenting or poor schooling. Psychiatrists say a popular myth about ADHD is that it is race and age-related and this causes a barrier to diagnosis. It’s important to increase awareness around the neurophysiological cause of ADHD – this is not a behavioural problem that one outgrows.

  1. ADHD impacts every part of life

If not properly treated, ADHD can have a severe impact on the emotional and social aspects of a person’s life. Children left untreated will find it difficult to interact, learn and grow. Teens are affected in their academics and relationships while adults with untreated ADHD are often maladjusted. Although individuals living with ADHD are more empathetic and intuitive, their impulsivity can lead them to saying something they shouldn’t, their inattention could be hurtful and their hyperactivity could cause frustration. Understanding the impact on relationships is paramount.

  1. ADHD has related co-existing conditions

Research shows ADHD isn’t always a stand-alone disorder – many individuals with ADHD also have a related or co-existing condition. These include aggression, anxiety, depression and eating disorders. Individuals with ADHD are also more likely to develop common co-morbidities such as oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) and conduct disorder (CD) in children and personality disorders in adults. Although they can be a challenge, understanding their impact is the first step to learning how to cope.

  1. Individuals with ADHD have unique “super powers”

Individuals with ADHD can be some of the most creative, courageous people on your team or in the family, bringing new approaches to just about any task. A recent study found that ADHD brains produce more Theta waves, which indicates deep-relaxation. The more crisis-orientated the better – their hyperfocus and detail-orientated brain can break the situation down, compartmentalize it and come up with creative solutions immediately.

  1. The ADHD is brain attuned for business success

Individuals living with ADHD can harness their symptoms for business success. Studies have shown entrepreneurs with ADHD embrace new experiences and demonstrate passion and persistence. Impulsiveness, hyperactivity and hyperfocus are common traits of an entrepreneur with intuition for risk taking. It’s a recipe for success in any business.

  1. Help and support is freely available

Think you display symptoms that could be consistent with ADHD? Take the self-assessment test. Diagnosis can be the answer to questions you ask yourself everyday. With a holistic treatment plan from a healthcare professional paired with the right support, there’s no reason individuals with ADHD can’t thrive and enable their potential.