ADHD: Dire, yet Severely Misunderstood

By Bill Nguyen

Attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder, often referred to simply as ADD or ADHD, is a neurobehavioral condition that affects how an individual reacts to his or her surroundings. With the disorder being muddled in misconceptions and controversy, it is important to become educated on the legitimate symptoms and treatments of ADHD in order to judge the condition appropriately.

Those struggling with ADHD are commonly characterized as having fragile attention spans and extreme hyperactivity. This two-dimensional image, when coupled with ADHD’s flamboyant portrayal in popular media, leads to a shallow and inaccurate understanding of the disorder. In reality, those diagnosed with ADHD display myriad minute and apparent symptoms, with many of the symptoms notably developing with age. Children with the condition may become easily distracted, possess a tendency to squirm or fidget, have difficulty interacting with other children, or experience slow emotional development. It is a misconception that children with ADHD gradually “lose” their symptoms as they become adults. This is far from the case; as children mature, their symptoms evolve accordingly. Adults with ADHD tend to experience poor time management skills, restlessness, irritability, and an uncontrollable urge to interrupt others. Note that the symptoms displayed by adults directly parallel the symptoms found in children.

Conflict and disagreement persist within the medical community on whether or not ADHD is being overdiagnosed or underdiagnosed. Those arguing the former believe in the inaccuracies surrounding self-reported symptoms, asserting that small irritations are being dramatized or that symptoms are a result of a separate condition entirely. Conversely, those siding with the latter argue that ADHD is being popularly regarded as a fake condition, despite the undeniability of the harm it does to lives. Consequently, people suffering from the disorder are refraining from seeking treatment. The conflict possesses great implications: if individuals are misdiagnosed, they may suffer the side-effects of wrongfully-prescribed medication, but if undiagnosed ADHD victims are not treated, they risk permanently living with the symptoms.

Thus, it is imperative that more in-depth diagnoses are conducted on individuals at risk of ADHD. This would, in turn, mitigate the threat of a misdiagnosis and the harm of having no diagnosis. However, there are many more ways individuals with ADHD can cope with the condition. Organizations like Attention Deficit Disorder Association (ADDA) provide free webinars, online resources, and support groups for people suffering from ADHD.

ADHD is a condition rife in misconceptions and controversy. However, becoming educated on the disorder will allow individuals to make appropriate judgments and not fall victim to stigma and misinformation. With controversy surrounding ADHD brewing, being educated on the disorder is becoming increasingly critical.

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