Adult ADHD: A 21st century epidemic?

Adult ADHD: A 21st century epidemic?

The United Kingdom is experiencing dramatic increases in requests for diagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in adults. But what is ADHD, and why is it suddenly becoming something the general public and medical professionals need to be aware of? In this feature, Dr. James Brown and Dr. Alex Conner provide some context. National Teaching Fellow Dr. Conner is a reader in biomedical science communication at the College of Medical and Dental Sciences at the University of Birmingham, U.K. Dr. Brown is a reader in biomedical science at the College of Health and Life Sciences at Aston University, U.K. ADHD is a lifelong neurodevelopmental disorder in which the brain grows differently. This leads to deficient action from the chemicals involved in pleasure and reward. The name ADHD is a little unhelpful as those with the disorder do not have a deficit of attention, more a lack of ability to... Read more

“Simple Tasks Seem Overwhelming to My Child”

Take your pick — the misconstrued labels for children with inattentive ADHD (once called ADD) are as vast and varied as the symptoms they manifest. Often misunderstood — or worse, neglected — at school, children with ADHD face unique challenges complicated by outdated ADHD stereotypes. Here, ADDitude readers share the biggest challenges their children with inattentive ADHD face at school and home. What struggles does your child with predominantly inattentive ADHD encounter? Share your stories in the Comments section below. “Mind-wandering is a challenge for my daughter when she needs to complete schoolwork, especially reading. She has a hard time focusing and will fixate on sounds around her (ticking clock, hallway conversation, foot-tapping classmate, etc.) rather than the one sound she needs to hear: Her teacher’s voice. However, her inattentiveness and mind-wandering are a total asset when she’s drawing, writing, or creating because it allows her to be fluid, make... Read more

“How I Calm Down My ADHD Brain: 14 Quick De-Stressors”

“How I Calm Down My ADHD Brain: 14 Quick De-Stressors”

I use these stress-relieving strategies – from breathwork and EFT tapping to mindfulness exercises and laughter – to quickly reduce anxiety and improve my emotional regulation. ADHD emotions are not only unstable and mercurial; they overlap, butt heads, and fight for our attention. Those of us with ADHD can feel a dozen emotions in an afternoon. We can also feel immature, out of control, and ashamed at the same time. The fight to rein in our emotions is emotionally and physically exhausting; it also chips away at our self-worth and overall well-being. Over time, I have developed several tools to address this by reducing my restlessness, agitation, impatience, and explosive anger (to name a few emotional challenges). Along the way, my relationships, career, and friendships have benefited as well. The next time your blood boils or your tears flow, try one (or all) of the following micro-techniques – which take... Read more

The ADHD Guide to Naturally Flowing, ‘Normal’ Conversations

There’s a general assumption that people know the unspoken, unwritten, often mysterious rules of social engagement. These assumptions do not account for the experience of living with neurodiversity. Either way, it’s never too late to learn how to have a conversation. Communication can be tricky for people with ADHD, who may interrupt too much, speak too quickly, or space out unintentionally and miss key elements of a conversation. As a result, many individuals worry that they will say something stupid in conversation, or that they’ll try so hard to appear “normal” that they end up looking strange. The task becomes so daunting, people may question their ability to engage in naturally flowing, comfortable conversations. There’s a general assumption that people know the unspoken, unwritten, and often mysterious rules of social engagement. These assumptions do not account for the experience of living with neurodiversity — some people with ADHD, learning differences,... Read more

“Have I Overreacted? Big Time? 5 Ways I Rectify Emotional Outbursts”

“Keep your rejection sensitive dysphoria (RSD) in check. Remember not to take what people say in the moment personally. They have the right to react, too. Even if people tell you to ‘get out,’ it doesn’t mean that they don’t love you.” It’s crisis time. I know because my heart rate is up. A lump in my throat forms. My muscles feel tense and alive. I hear words but it’s a part of the blur around me as I am hit with a thousand stimuli at once. My mind races as I consider potential escapes and threats. Everything is slow and fast at the same time. Something’s happened, and it’s on me to figure out what it is and safely deal with it. It could be anything — a car crash, a death, a breakup, an arrest — it doesn’t matter. The point is I’m losing control and I must... Read more

All About Trauma: What It Is, Short- and Long-Term Effects, How to Cope With It, and When to Get Help

Although she didn’t witness the event herself, Heidi Horsley, PsyD, found herself replaying the last moments of her brother’s life again and again in her mind. He died in a car accident after hydroplaning during a rainstorm. “That narrative kept going over and over, and I couldn’t get the loop out of my head,” she says. With each replay, she recalls, she ruminated on whether her brother suffered before his death — and she became increasingly worried someone else was going to die. “The safe predictable world you once knew is gone. When my brother died, I didn’t feel like my parents could protect us. I felt my brother died, so I could die.” Dr. Horsley’s younger brother died when she was 20 years old. Her experience as a young adult eventually prompted Horsley to become a therapist who specializes in grief and trauma. Now an adjunct professor at Columbia... Read more

Pandemic Especially Tough on Kids With ADHD

Living through the pandemic has not been easy for kids, but it has really thrown off children who have attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), new research warns. Though they were not more likely to catch COVID-19, they were more likely to experience symptoms if they were infected. But the damage did not stop there: These children were also more likely to have trouble sleeping, feel fear about infection risks, have trouble with remote learning and exhibit rule-breaking behavior. The interventions that can help these kids stay focused — like school involvement and parental monitoring — were also disrupted by the pandemic. "I think the biggest takeaway is that we need to be looking out for these kids with ADHD, who might be flying under the radar," said study author Eliana Rosenthal, a PhD student at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania. "Maybe giving them some extra attention during this challenging time could really make... Read more

Youth Depression: How Can We Support our Kids?

“‘All of a sudden I don’t feel like the norm. I feel cold, not warm. My brain’s like a storm’… Lilly the dog wanted to help, but didn’t know what to do. She hated seeing Benny the bunny so blue.” — Bunny & Doggo: Friends Fight Depression, written by Matt Christensen and illustrated by Leilani “Ducky” Banayos Benny, like a growing number of us, feels scared and uncertain, “stuck in the muck of [a] depressing black cloud.” Depression and anxiety have doubled among young people during the pandemic. Literature suggests that 25% of children – 1 in 4 – are experiencing significant depressive symptoms. “Since the pandemic started two years ago, there has been almost twice as many kids being treated for depression and anxiety,” says Dr. Emily Mudd, Ph.D., pediatric psychologist with Cleveland Clinic’s Children’s and mother of two. “From a neurochemical standpoint, depression and anxiety are closely related.... Read more

Child Sleep Problems Affect Mothers and Fathers Differently

After the birth of children, fragmentation of parental night sleep and fatigue due to the nightly demands of the infant are common.1 Indeed, there is evidence that mothers’ and fathers’ fatigue increase immediately following the birth of their child.1,2 Resulting in insufficient, non-restful sleep, this poses a stress factor for parental health, daily well-being, and functioning.3 In contrast, good children’s sleep quality predicted good maternal sleep.4 Most often, this is a temporary problem and infants develop the competence to fall asleep independently in the evening and go back to sleep after night waking during the first year of life.5,6 However, about 20–30% of the infants and young children are affected by sleep problems during the entire first 3 years of childhood and need support by a caregiver to fall asleep.7–10 Consequently, many parents are concerned with difficulties pertaining to their own sleep as well as handling their children’s sleep problems.... Read more

What do you need to do to break the cycle of shame as a person with ADHD?

What do you need to do to break the cycle of shame as a person with ADHD?

If you're a person with ADHD, you might find yourself in a cycle of shame. Shame for things you may have said, for not "reading a room" the way a neurotypical person might, or shame simply from a childhood where people made you feel bad or less-than because of your differences. Now that you're an adult, how can you shift away from criticism and resentment and move towards forgiveness and letting go? If you're carrying guilt and shame about your attention, learning, and emotional challenges, being judged and unforgiven is especially difficult. You already struggle with maintaining a growth mindset and learning from your mistakes. But when you feel humiliated and resented, it’s even harder to accept your stumbles as a natural part of living. It can be hard to forgive yourself. Now that you recognize those feelings, you can aim your focus on practicing forgiveness with your neurodiverse family... Read more

The COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on the mental health of children and youth

According to the report, during the pandemic, children, adolescents, and young adults face unprecedented challenges. The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically changed their world, including how they attend school, interact with friends, and receive health care. They missed the first days of school, months, or even years of in-person schooling, graduation ceremonies, sports competitions, playdates, and time with relatives. They and their family may have lost access to mental health care, social services, income, food, or housing. They may have had COVID-19 themselves, suffered from long COVID symptoms, or lost a loved one to the disease – it’s estimated that as of June 2021, more than 140,000 children in the US had lost a parent or grandparent caregiver to COVID-19. Since the pandemic began, rates of psychological distress among young people, including symptoms of anxiety, depression, and other mental health disorders, have increased. Recent research covering 80,000 youth globally found that... Read more

Tips for Managing ADHD and ODD in Children and Adults

Tips for Managing ADHD and ODD in Children and Adults

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder that is characterized by impulsive and hyperactive behaviors and/or inattentive behaviors. Oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) is a behavior disorder marked by behaviors, particularly those directed towards authority figures, that are uncooperative, defiant, negativistic, irritable, and deliberately annoying.1 While they are separate conditions, they often occur together. Some research suggests that as many as 40% of children with ADHD also meet the criteria for an ODD diagnosis.2 This article will look at why ODD often occurs with ADHD, how the conditions are treated and managed, and coping strategies for parents and children. Can You Have Both ADHD and ODD? It's common for people with ADHD to also have ODD. According to Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD), between one-third and one-half of children with ADHD also have ODD.3 Some symptoms of ADHD in children include:4 Inattentive symptoms: Such as being easily... Read more

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