Question: My Daughter Was Recently Diagnosed With Adhd Another Parent Told Me That Adhd Is Considered A Mental Illness Is That Accurate
Technically, yes. ADHD is a mental illness. But its a complex topic that can leave some parents confused or upset.
Mental illness is a very broad term. It refers to any type of condition that affects a persons behavior, mood, or thinking. That can cover everything from mild anxiety to severe depression or bipolar disorder. It also includes ADHD .
In reality, few practitioners use the words mental illness to describe kids with ADHD. They tend to refer to it as a behavior disorder. Some might even refer to it as a learning difference that can affect all areas of learning.
So ADHD may technically fall under the umbrella of mental illness. But youll rarely hear it described in those terms.
Still, for some parents, the idea that their child has a mental disorder is tough to absorb. They may worry that their child will be stigmatized. Mental illness is actually more common than many people realize even in kids. In fact, about 20 percent of kids in America will be diagnosed with a mental disorder.
Mental illnesses are health issues. Heredity, brain chemistry, stress, and environmental factors all can play a role. Were still learning about how the brain and body chemistry influence behavior. And the more we learn, the more stigma around mental illness will decrease.
Resources And Support For Young People
To find out more about living with ADHD and the treatment and support options available, you can find a range of resources on the ADHD Foundation website. YoungMinds also have a page on the links between ADHD and mental health that you might find useful.
Predictor Of Other Mental Health Disorders
ADHD itself may be a predictor of other mental illness. Research shows that rates of mental health disorders are significantly higher among adults with ADHD. People with ADHD are more likely to experience social phobia, impulse control disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorder and eating disorders. Several factors could be reasonable as to why mental health disorders are higher among people with ADHD. The challenges of daily life with ADHD makes simple tasks difficult, leading to feelings of anxiety and/or depression.
Don’t Miss: What Do Autistic Babies Look Like
How Should I Prepare For My Childs Appointment To Discuss Adhd
If you think your child has a problem with attention, hyperactivity or impulsivity, and it seems that his or her behavior at home and performance at school are being affected, your next step is to see your pediatrician.
If the symptoms are affecting your childs schoolwork, contact the school and request an evaluation. When making this request, be as specific as possible about the type of educational or behavioral difficulties your child is having.
Schools are required to evaluate children if theres evidence of a disability that affects their learning. This evaluation is free and must, by law, include appropriate standardized tests. School testing can lead to accommodations in the classroom. The school will not diagnose ADHD, but will take note of the symptoms and will often assign a designation of Other Health Impaired . Get a copy of the schools report and bring it with you to the appointment with the pediatrician.
If necessary, the family provider may suggest you take your child to a professional who specializes in ADHD and other developmental, behavioral or mental health concerns.
Could I Have Adhd
- I have a hard time starting projects, especially if they require a lot of thinking or concentration
- I have a hard time finalizing small details once the challenging parts of a task are finished
- I often forget about meetings and other day-to-day obligations
- I have a hard time organizing things, such as projects at work or my finances
- I often fidget or feel very restless
- I often feel like I have to move or do something active
- Ive experienced these symptoms since I was young
Talk to your doctor if you feel that many of the above statements apply to you, happen often and cause a lot of problems.
Recommended Reading: How To Fight Autism And Win
The Differences Between A Disability And Mental Health
ADHD can be a very distressing illness. Much like a mental illness, it can bring about unwanted feelings and affect the cognitive function of the individual. While learning disabilities and mental illnesses do have many more things in common than differences, specific criteria set them apart. Three main components distinguish a learning disability and mental health disorder from each other.
Who Does It Affect
About 4% of adults experience some or all ADHD symptoms. It affects men and women almost equally.
- Family membersADHD seems to run in families, so you are much more likely to have ADHD if a close biological relative has ADHD.
- Other mental illnessesMore than three-quarters of adults living with ADHD have another mental illness. The most common mental illnesses are depression, bipolar disorder, social anxiety disorder, substance use disorders and personality disorders.
You May Like: How To Deal With Aggressive Behavior In Autism
What Happens As Time Goes On
It tends to get better as you get older, but can continue into adult life2. The over-activity usually gets less, but the impulsivity, poor concentration and risk-taking can get worse. These can make it hard to work, learn and get on with other people. Its not surprising that adults with ADHD are more likely to experience depression, anxiety, feelings of low self-esteem and drug misuse and can feel overwhelmed and struggle in less structured environments.
How Common Is Adhd
About 11% of children between the ages of four and 17 have ADHD. Symptoms of ADHD typically first appear between the ages of three and six years old. The average age of ADHD diagnosis is seven years old. In children, its three times more common in young boys than girls.
ADHD isnt just a childhood disorder. About 4% of American adults over the age of 18 contend with ADHD behaviors on a daily basis. In adulthood, its diagnosed equally between males and females.
Also Check: Community For Autistic Adults
Adhd And Mental Health
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder can be a lifelong condition. You might start to experience symptoms in childhood and find that they continue into your teenage years and as an adult.
We know that if you have ADHD youre more likely to experience a mental health problem. Theres evidence that anxiety, depression, conduct disorder , substance abuse, and sleep problems are all more common with people who have ADHD.
Psychotherapy And Psychosocial Interventions
Several specific psychosocial interventions have been shown to help individuals with ADHD and their families manage symptoms and improve everyday functioning.
For school-age children, frustration, blame, and anger may have built up within a family before a child is diagnosed. Parents and children may need specialized help to overcome negative feelings. Mental health professionals can educate parents about ADHD and how it affects a family. They also will help the child and his or her parents develop new skills, attitudes, and ways of relating to each other.
All types of therapy for children and teens with ADHD require parents to play an active role. Psychotherapy that includes only individual treatment sessions with the child is not effective for managing ADHD symptoms and behavior. This type of treatment is more likely to be effective for treating symptoms of anxiety or depression that may occur along with ADHD.
Behavioral therapy is a type of psychotherapy that aims to help a person change their behavior. It might involve practical assistance, such as help organizing tasks or completing schoolwork, or working through emotionally difficult events. Behavioral therapy also teaches a person how to:
- monitor their own behavior
- give oneself praise or rewards for acting in a desired way, such as controlling anger or thinking before acting
Read Also: How Can You Tell If Your Kid Has Autism
How Effective Are These Treatments
Less research has been done into the medication treatments for adults with ADHD, than with children, so some medications are not yet licensed in adults, even though they are commonly used. Your psychiatrist can still prescribe them, but may need to make it clear that the prescription is ‘off license’.
What Causes Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
The exact cause of ADHD is unknown, but the condition has been shown to run in families.
Research has also identified a number of possible differences in the brains of people with ADHD when compared with those without the condition.
Other factors suggested as potentially having a role in ADHD include:
- being born prematurely
- having a low birthweight
- smoking or alcohol or drug abuse during pregnancy
ADHD can occur in people of any intellectual ability, although it’s more common in people with learning difficulties.
You May Like: Is Autism And Down Syndrome The Same
What Is Adhd Like
If you experience ADHD, you might find that you:
- have difficulty concentrating
- are forgetful
- sometimes make impulsive decisions.
This isnt a complete list of all symptoms, but they are some of the symptoms which are also common in mental health problems.
Lots of the main symptoms of ADHD are things that impact your behaviour, mood, and thinking. So you might be misdiagnosed with a mental health problem like depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, or a personality disorder.
How Can Adhd Impact Learning
Although it cannot and should not be strictly classified as a learning disability, ADHD can have a pretty significant impact on learning overall for many people with it. The symptoms of ADHD often affect many other areas of the patients life, and can sometimes present in ways that may not immediately point to ADHD itself. This is why getting a diagnosis from a doctor is important. The following are ways in which ADHD affects learning:
- Reduced executive function
- Lack of attention to detail
Various Facets Of Adhd And Learning
From the above explanation of what learning disorders are, ADHD cannot be strictly classified as a learning disorder. However, ADHD as a disability does significantly impact learning success or failure. This is one major reason why several people have mistaken ADHD as a mental illness instead of a learning disability. To learn new things, you will need to employ your brains executive functions, including the capacity to concentrate, engage your working memory, and focus. Unfortunately, ADHD causes significant impairment of these executive functions and this, in turn, affects learning, which is the main area of overlap between learning disabilities and ADHD developmental disorder.3
Is Adhd A Mental Illness: Misconceptions
I have personal experience with this misconception. I was diagnosed with ADHD in Australia during the early 1990s, just as the condition was becoming more widely known. My performance at school had for years confused my teachers. Why was I so high performing in areas that interested me such as literacy and history but performing well below average in other subjects such as maths and science? After I was diagnosed at age nine, my primary school was supportive. However, when I transferred from primary school to high school in year eight, my ADHD diagnosis acted against my best interest due to an overall lack of understanding. I along with any other student who was considered “difficult” was placed in a “special year group”. This year group consisted only of students who had either behavioral or learning problems. Even though my reading level was already that of an adult, I was placed in this class solely because of my ADHD diagnosis. I hated being in this class, I experienced intense bullying and I was no longer challenged in my favorite subjects. I was only moved after my parents made a huge fuss and had my IQ tested, where I scored ever so slightly higher than average. I later attended different schools which handled my diagnosis better and were more supportive.
Recommended Reading: Can Autism Be Diagnosed In Utero
What Is Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
It is a pattern of behaviours which usually appear in childhood. Parents and teachers notice that a child is:
- unusually over-active.
- distracted, cannot stick to anything for any length of time.
- impulsive, does things on the spur of the moment or without thinking.
- unable to concentrate for any length of time.
Many of us might have one of these problems, but we do not have all of them. To have a diagnosis of ADHD1, these problems must be bad enough to interfere with:
- How you get on with other people – or
- How you get on at work or school.
Is Adhd A Mental Illness
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is something that many people have heard of but dont often understand. When you hear about ADHD, you may immediately associate it with hyperactive kids that dont pay attention. This leads many people to ask the question of, Is ADHD a mental illness and is it really serious? The reality is that ADHD affects people of all ages, and it can make life extremely difficult.
Recommended Reading: Can You Claim Benefits For A Child With Autism
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
Studies show that ADHD may affect certain areas of the brain that allow us to solve problems, plan ahead, understand others actions, and control our impulses.
Most cases are diagnosed in childhood, but its possible to be diagnosed as an adult. ADHD cant develop for the first time in adults, but you may have had it as a child and not been diagnosed.
Adhd Diagnosis And Testing
It can be hard to diagnose ADHD, especially in children. No one test will spot it. Doctors diagnose ADHD in children and teens after discussing symptoms at length with the child, parents, and teachers, and then observing the child’s behaviors.
Doctors use the American Psychiatric Associationâs guidelines, which are based on how many symptoms a person has and how long theyâve had them. Theyâll also rule out other things that may be causing the symptoms, such as health conditions or problems in daily life.
To confirm a diagnosis of ADHD or learning differences, a child may take a battery of tests to check their neurological and psychological status. The tests should be given by a pediatrician or mental health provider with experience in diagnosing and treating ADHD. Your primary care doctor might refer you to a specialist such as a psychiatrist, psychologist, or psychotherapist. The tests may include:
Also Check: Do Autistic People Have Empathy
What Can I Expect If I Or My Child Has Adhd
ADHD is a complicated condition with various symptom expressions. If you or your child have ADHD, educate yourself as much as possible about the behaviors that make life difficult. Consider medicines and behavioral treatments. Your healthcare provider will help you with these. He or she will sum up the results of the ADHD evaluation and will recommend appropriate treatment. A combination of pharmacotherapy and behavioral treatment, is generally recommended. A trained behavioral health clinician can give general guidelines for managing your own or your childs ADHD and these can be tailored to your familys needs and your childs strengths and weaknesses.
Also, it is always useful to have appropriate expectations for yourself and your child. Dont expect your child to get out of bed the first time you wake them up, and dont be too hard on yourself if making progress is difficult. It is always best to have your partner and friends help with tasks like organizing and time management. Stay in contact with your healthcare provider, especially if there is a change in you or your childs behaviors, or there is a reaction to prescribed medications.
Two important questions to ask yourself are: 1) “Am I moving forward in the world of action or am I living in my head? 2) “Am I moving closer to my values or am I moving away from what I value?”
Conditions That Can Occur Along With Adhd
When it comes to children, ADHD and associated disorders are often screened for together. The presentation of coexisting illnesses that require separate methods of treatment to discover any underlying conditions that could be exacerbating the main issues at hand. Some of the most common that apply to youth, as far as ADHD and other disorders, include:
Don’t Miss: What Does Low Functioning Autism Look Like