What is ADHD?

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What is ADHD?

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Although Attention Defecit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a known condition, people today still don’t completely understand what this means. A lot of the time when people imagine someone with ADHD, they picture someone with a lot of energy and that won’t stop talking. It has been heard countless times when someone acts excited, overly enthousiastic, or has a lot of energy that they “have ADHD”; which people say in a negative way. As a person with ADHD, I didn’t have an issue with this until I was diagnosed with this condition and that was when I realized that a lot of people aren’t educated about it; including myself before.

According to the Centre for ADHD Awareness, Canada (CADDAC), ADHD is a neurological condition that affects 4% of adults and 5% of children worldwide. The cause of ADHD is uncertain but it is most likely to be genetic. People nowadays still use ADD to refer to someone who does not experience hyperactivity but this term is actually outdated. In 1980 the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders— edition 3 (DSM—III) stated that (now ADHD) was called ADD and the subcategories were ADD with hyperactivity and ADD without hyperactivity. The same edition was released later in 1987 and it stated that this condition was officially called ADHD. Later (in 1994) DSM—IV was released and stated (most recently) that this condition was still called ADHD but with certain subcategories: combined type, predominantly inattentive type, and hyperactive impulsive type. In the latest edition, DSM-5, these categories are essentially the same, but are called “presentations” instead of types.

According to ADDitude you must have at least 6 inattentive symptoms to have predominantly inattentive ADHD and 6 hyperactive-impulsive symptoms to have hyperactive-impulsive type ADHD. If someone has 6 symptoms of BOTH types they have combined ADHD. Symptoms of someone with inattentive ADHD include difficulty staying focused, being organized, having a hard time engaging in activities that require a lot of mental effort, losing things, making careless mistakes, and getting distracted frequently. Symptoms of hyperactive impulsive ADHD include fidgeting or squirming, needing to move or leave seat during class time, difficulty being quiet, talking constantly, interrupting and blurting out answers without thinking.

Some examples of successful people who have ADHD are: Howie Mandel (Judge on America’s Got Talent), Adam Levine (Lead singer in Maroon 5, and judge on The Voice), Will Smith (Actor, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air), Albert Einstein, Walt Disney, and Jim Carrey (Actor, Comedian). Howie Mandel wrote a book with Josh Young called “Here’s the Deal: Don’t Touch Me” about his ADHD and OCD. It’s important that people talk about their mental health issues to show other people going through the same thing that they’re not alone. When interviewed (on everydayhealth.com), Mandel says “The biggest issue with mental health issues is that you feel very alone and nobody shares your issues.”

Even though people with ADHD are a very small percentage, there are still many that exist. The chances of knowing a redhead (less than 2%) are actually less than the chances of you knowing someone who has ADHD! Positive characteristics of ADHD are being creative, funny, willing to take risks and spontaneous because their impulsivity pushes them to do things that they wouldn’t do otherwise. People don’t tend to notice if someone even has ADHD unless they are hyperactive, which is why we think of the stereotypical person tied to ADHD. I hope you have a better understanding of this condition and remember that Albert Einstein had ADHD and accomplished many great things!