After reading the title of this post, I know that many of my readers will make an assumption right away: that I’m about to start a discussion about childhood ADHD.
I get it. When most parents hear about ADHD, it’s a conversation that begins in the classroom, through the media or with other moms and dads who are also looking for information and resources. And I’m not going to fault you for making that assumption; ADHD is the most common child psychiatric disorder and affects 5 to 12% of school-aged children. (1)
But here’s something we don’t talk about often – and perhaps not nearly often enough – ADHD does not only affect children. Did you know that as many as 4.4% of grownups have ADHD? (2) Translated, that means 1.1 million Canadian adults are living with ADHD. Chances are, someone very close to you is affected by this condition, but may refrain from reaching out due to the myths and social stigma associated with the disorder. (1) (2)
Let’s counteract misperceptions with understanding.
ADHD is a neurobiological disorder that is often hereditary and results in difficulty regulating attention, impulsiveness and/or hyperactivity. Symptoms can impact most aspects of daily living including organizational and time management skills.
We know that most people are diagnosed in childhood, but ADHD isn’t something you can simply grow out of, like acne (sometimes) or a bad haircut (hopefully). In fact, about 80 per cent of children maintain their diagnosis into adolescence, and at least 60 per cent remain symptomatic in adulthood. For adults with ADHD, social stigma and the impact of the condition can affect daily living, academics, career, relationships and parenting.
And if you’re a woman with ADHD? Comprehension and awareness are even harder to come by; in a recent survey conducted by Hill + Knowlton Strategies for Purdue Pharma (Canada), 80% of respondents were unaware that ADHD affects women as often as men. This may be because more boys present with the ‘hyperactive’ symptoms which lead to a quicker diagnosis in childhood, versus girls who are often more inattentive.
So what can you do? If you, or someone you know, is coping with ADHD, there are helpful resources available.
1. Online, visit CADDAC (Centre for ADHD Awareness, Canada), a Canadian national not-for-profit organization dedicated to improving the lives of those with ADHD through ADHD awareness, education and advocacy. You can also check out Being Me with ADHD, which breaks down the causes, prevalence and symptoms of ADHD and offers tips for living with the condition, including treatment options.
2. Speak to your physician, psychologist or other therapist to inquire about treatments for ADHD, including Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), mindfulness therapy, pharmacotherapy, and coaching.
3. Talk to family and friends, your employer and/or professors. Often, people don’t know what you’re going through unless you’re open to sharing, and sometimes, you may find that you have more in common than you realize. The first step in destigmatizing ADHD in adults is having deeper conversations that foster understanding.
It might seem like more and more people have ADHD now, but healthcare professionals are just getting better at diagnosing ADHD. I hope you’ll help continue to conversation.
This post is sponsored by Purdue Pharma (Canada). The opinions on this blog, as always, are my own.