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Health 3

Think ADHD and you think ‘kids’! But have you ever wondered what happens to children who are diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder when they grow up? Do they simply grow out of it?

Only approximately three to five percent of children exhibiting the symptoms of ADHD are diagnosed; the rest end up being labelled as ‘problem children’, expected to fend for themselves, and they carry the stigma for the rest of their lives.

Recent studies at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden have shown that 30 to 70% of children with symptoms of ADHD (distractibility, restlessness, impulsivity) continue to exhibit them in their adult lives and may be diagnosed with ADHD ‘retrospectively’. 

People with depression and/or anxiety who also have a history of schooling difficulties, are unable to hold a job or are involved in frequent automobile accidents may be suffering from ADHD. The symptoms, however, vary to a great extent and are sometimes as basic as not being able to manage day-to-day activities which affect time management and productivity on the job. Children with unresolved ADHD even run the risk of developing bipolar disorder as they grow up.

According to consultant psychiatrist Dr Syed Ali Wasif, “Adult ADHD is quite a complicated diagnosis to make, one that needs not only the patient but also his or her immediate family and a very thorough history of the origin of the present symptoms. Anger issues, mood swings, low self-esteem, forgetfulness, substance abuse and even habitual procrastination may be pointing towards ADHD.”

A National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) assessment of people suffering from ADHD worldwide put the figure around three to five percent but experts believe it to be a very conservative estimate. According to the Right Diagnosis, for Pakistan, with a population estimate of 160 million, the extrapolated prevalence of ADHD (statistics calculated by Right Diagnosis), would come to approximately 2 million.

In adults, ADHD treatment requires a multi-pronged approach. Medication with cognitive behavioural therapy, family support and a pocket planner are needed to overcome this ailment.

– Dr Summaiya Syed-Tariq                                                                                      The writer is a senior forensic practitioner working at the Police Surgeon Office, Karachi.  

First published in the ADBUZZZZ Section of The DAWN National Weekend Advertiser on February 23, 2014.