Attention Deficit (Hyperactivity) Disorder
We know ADHD occurs in children. Its onset is prior to age 7. Fortunately some grow out of this condition, but approximately 70% do not.
ADHD is a neuro-behavioural condition which often runs in a family. The basic effects are:
Many ADHD/ADD sufferers, because of their problems, often develop associated (comorbid) conditions, the most common being Learning Disorder(s).
Classification of ADHD
ADHD is a spectrum: At one end is hyperactivity and at the other end is inattention.
There are THREE types of ADHD
Mixed Hyperactivity and Inattention—70-75%
Symptoms of Inattention
- Difficulty paying close attention to details resulting in careless mistakes
- Difficulty sustaining attention
- Difficulty listening when spoken to directly
- Difficulty completing tasks and following instructions
- Difficulty with organisation
- Avoiding tasks that require mental effort
- Losing things
Symptoms of Hyperactivity
- Fidgeting – ? finger tapping
- Difficulty remaining seated
- Difficulty remaining quiet
- Often being “on-the-go” or acts as if “driven by a motor”
- Talking excessively
- Often blurting out answers before questions have been completed
- Difficulty waiting turn
- Interrupting or intruding on others
Comorbidity – Associated Conditions
Up to 75% of ADHD sufferers have other mental health problems, some more than one.
ADHD is associated with a higher percentage of smoking, accidents (including in vehicles) dismissals from school and work, relationship break-ups. ADHD people are usually energetic, creative, and intelligent, and treatment can help these attributes to be realised.
Economic Impact of ADHD
From the USA figures (in Lenard Adler “Scattered Minds” 2006) we can estimate: Each household with an ADHD sufferer has a productivity loss of approximately $15,000 per annum. More than 135,000 adult New Zealanders (or 4.3% of adults have ADHD). Adult ADHD is not only frustrating for the individual, but also the family, and it takes a toll on the NZ economy – approximately $2 billion (NZ) per annum.
The population of Christchurch is currently 368,900. (2008) The number of adults aged 18 and over is 269,700. 4.3% of this number is 11,600.
The options can be a minefield. There are many without scientific proof going back to the 1940’s and some, unfortunately, are having another “life” because of the internet.
Knowing the diagnosis is the First Step. Many adults improve their understanding of themselves and make healthy adjustments, achieving better self-acceptance and self-esteem. Knowing the cause of the problem they can then focus on solutions. Many others can benefit from some of the treatment modalities available.
Stimulants – In 1937 stimulants (initially Dexamphetamine) were found to improve functioning in children (and adults) with ADHD.
Methylphenidate is an amphetamine-related medication discovered and used in ADHD/ADD since 1952. This is the most favoured stimulant available in New Zealand and is available under the brand names of (immediate-acting) Ritalin and Rubifen, and (long-acting) Ritalin, Rubifen and Concerta, all free on Special Authority.
Non-Stimulants – Basically four available which are often helpful, all available free of charge, two require Special Authority:
Clonidine (Catapres, Dixarit) Venlafaxine (Efexor) – Requires Special Authority.
There are many forms, from Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) to Skills Coaching.