By Darcy Gruttadaro, NAMI Director of the Child and Adolescent Action Center
ADHD Awareness Week, Oct. 14-20, is a time to take stock of what we know about attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). It is one of the most common mental health conditions in children. Although it is often thought of as primarily existing in children, much has been learned about its impact on teens and adults.
NAMI invites you to visit the new resources prepared especially for ADHD Awareness Week as part of our ADHD Resource Center, including tips on how to live well, chats with experts, personal stories from parents and podcasts.
About nine percent of children and four percent of adults live with ADHD. It impacts school performance, work and relationships. Most of us from time to time experience distraction, may act impulsively and may struggle to pay attention. But that does not necessarily qualify for ADHD. It is when one or more of these symptoms significantly impact and disrupt school, work and/or relationships that ADHD should be considered.
More than half of all individuals with ADHD also have co-occurring conditions like anxiety, depression and substance use disorders.
If you suspect that you or your child may have ADHD, here is what you can do:
- Talk with your primary care physician about your concerns. Write them down before the appointment so that you are prepared to address each one. Arrive at the appointment ready to discuss what is happening in school, at work and/or in relationships that concerns you have.
- Ask for a comprehensive assessment to determine whether you or your child may have ADHD. This is important to help rule out other psychological or medical conditions that may be causing the symptoms and to help ensure an accurate diagnosis.
- If you or your child is diagnosed with ADHD, be prepared to be an active partner in developing and adhering to the treatment plan. Ask questions. No question is off limits when it comes to understanding treatment options. Your primary care physician may treat ADHD in his or her office or may refer you to a mental health specialist.
ADHD is most often treated with some combination of behavior therapy and medication. There is no one size fits all when it comes to treating ADHD. This is especially true when it co-occurs with other mental health conditions. It is important to find the right combination of treatments that work best for you or your child.
Learning about ADHD is extremely important. Fortunately, there are plenty of helpful resources available from NAMI’s ADHD Resource Center for both children and adults. Visit the new section and listen to the podcast on ADHD Coaching, a growing field of professionals working to support and motivate youth and adults living with ADHD to improve school and work performance and other aspects of life.
Check out the newly posted personal stories of parents sharing tips on supporting your child and living well as an adult with ADHD. And don’t miss the podcasts on ADHD and Back to School. The key to living well with ADHD is to find the services and supports that best address your unique needs. Exercise and healthy diet help to enhance your overall health and are a wonderful compliment to ADHD treatment.
Many children and adults living with ADHD develop effective coping strategies that help reduce symptoms and increase overall quality of life.
ADHD Awareness Week is the perfect time to recognize that we have come a long way and there is much support out there for all of those impacted by ADHD.