Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder: A Mental Health Perspective

Joel Eisenberg

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Author’s Note

The words that follow are written in part from the perspective of a former mental health professional with dual training in Abnormal Psychology and Special Education. Though I left the field to become a full-time writer, I have continued my studies in the mental health realm. As with several of my articles for NewsBreak, personal anecdotes are included. Attributions for this article are included and linked below.

Myths of Attention Deficit Disorder

I personally suffer from Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, and know the symptoms all-too-well: lack of attentiveness, frequent inability to focus, and boredom with day-to-day tasks. See here for the extensive Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) definition of ADHD, as listed on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website.

The particular challenge for me is today I create for a living, primarily as a novelist and screenwriter. I have elected to undertake home-therapies such as regular breaks as recommended by a physician, as opposed to medication. To this point, my course of home therapy has worked well, but I am not against medication if so-prescribed in the future. Also, writing focuses me. Early in my prior career as a teacher, I worked with autistic children and adults. I noticed many of my lowest-functioning autistic students were able to more effectively focus when they attended to a task utilizing fine motor skills. As an example, those students would take apart fountain pens and put them back together. They would twist off the pens’ tops and bottoms, and place them in individual baskets that already contain a matching piece. As they progressed with this task, we added more complexities — including additional pieces — to it.

The analogy I am making is many of us who suffer from ADHD have something in common with severely impaired children and adults: We find it significantly easier to focus on tasks that enable us to indulge in simple or relaxing mindful activities. Many of us, as with them, enjoy video games or spending leisure time on computers, for instance. Controversy ensues, however, when one considers addiction as a common ADHD syndrome. See here for Very Well Mind article, ”The Link Between ADHD and Computer and Video Game Addictions.”

As an aside, it should be noted Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) was renamed ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) in 1994, regardless of presence or absence of hyperactivity component. See here for WebMD article, “ADD VS ADHD.”

From the article: In 1994, doctors decided all forms of attention-deficit disorder would be called "attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder," or ADHD, even if the person wasn't hyperactive. The article goes on to explain the disorder is now separated into three types: ADHD predominantly inattentive presentation (what used to be called ADD), ADHD predominantly hyperactive-impulsive presentation, and ADHD combined presentation (both inattentive and hyperactive-impulsive symptoms).

Symptoms of ADHD can interfere with both professional and personal relationships, and based on its severity can impact all aspects of one’s life.

Perhaps the most common myth, or misunderstanding, of ADHD regards an assumed tendency to be incapable of any type of work, or achievement. Frequently, the truth is the opposite, though sometimes we have to make adjustments. See here for a Self.com article on this matter, entitled, “I Have ADHD. Here Are 9 Productivity Tips That Really Help Me,” by Isabelle O’Carroll. Among her ADHD hacks, O’Carroll discusses the importance of breaking up large tasks into smaller sub-tasks, and over-estimating the time it will take to complete tasks. I abide by both of these hacks as well, and doing so has enabled me to meet many of my personal and professional goals.

Conclusion

As both a former mental health professional and an ADHD sufferer myself, I regularly consider the adjustments I have to make when completing tasks both large and small. My formal diagnosis is ADHD predominantly inattentive presentation (what used to be called ADD, as noted in the DSM-5). Though I have never suffered from the forms of ADHD that includes measured degrees of hyperactivity, individuals close to me have been so diagnosed.

See a doctor if you suspect any symptoms of ADHD, as the diagnosis can be managed with medication and/or therapy. If you prefer self-help, judge if your symptoms are getting better, or remaining the same. If in the event of the latter, medical intervention may prove invaluable to your piece of mind.

Thank you for reading.

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I am an award-winning author, screenwriter for film and television, and producer. My mission on News Break is to share socially important perspectives on both culture and pop-culture. Member of PEN America, and the WGA.

Northridge, CA
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