Saturday 8 December 2012

Adult ADHD: Simply a Myth?

There has been many research done on adult ADHD which have shown that many adults continue to be affected with ADHD symptoms. Despite this, many still think of ADHD as an illness affecting only children. There is a lack of understanding about adult ADHD both in healthcare professionals as well as the public in general.

In this paper written by doctors from the Institute of Mental Health (IMH), Woodbridge Hospital, Singapore, it is estimated that 5.29% of people may have ADHD. Only 10% will recover fully such that the symptoms no longer affect their lives in any way. This means that in Singapore, 265,000 people have ADHD and about 240,000 people will have ADHD symptoms into adulthood!

Based on this report, about 140,000 Singaporeans suffer from asthma. This is about 100,000 less than ADHD. Yet, it is not uncommon to hear of adults getting treatment for asthma whilst you will almost never hear adults getting treated for ADHD. In fact, many adult with ADHD today may have never been diagnosed in their childhood as the illness was poorly understood in this part of the world when they were children.

This can be due to the fact that the symptoms of adult ADHD is somewhat covert and hidden. As the child grows older, the hyperactivity symptoms (ie fidgeting,  running around, talking excessively) subsides. The adult can control their hyperactive symptoms much better. However, they continue to have inattentive symptoms like forgetfulness, poor time management and disorganisation. These symptoms can often be very disruptive. This is especially so students undergoing tertiary education where academic work can be fast paced and stressful. The ADHD mind may find itself unable to cope or manage in these times of stress where time allocation, organisation and prioritisation of work is critical.

Psycho-stimulant medications like methylphenidate is a very effective treatment for these symptoms. Other therapy such as behavioural modifications or cognitive behavioural therapy are helpful for the individuals suffering from adult ADHD.