Distracted or with ADHD? Understand the difference between the two tables – 13/09/2021

The scene is a home office classic: the computer screen open with several tabs open in the browser. In another context, the person who goes to fetch the sock from the wardrobe and returns with it in his hand and looking desperate: where is the sock that was here? That’s when you don’t have your glasses on your head while looking for the furniture in the house…

Perhaps one of these situations happened to you or someone you live with. And it’s natural when we laugh, make jokes and joke: “Look, you have attention deficit!” But attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (as ADHD is called) is no joke — nor is it simply a moment of distraction or inattention that leads to a diagnosis.

understanding the picture

ADHD is a neurobiological condition, with genetic causes and characterized by symptoms of inattention, restlessness and impulsiveness. According to the ABDA (Brazilian Association of Attention Deficit), the disorder affects 3% to 5% of school-age children and its prevalence is higher among boys. One of the strongest features of the syndrome is the difficulty to focus on activities and motor restlessness, which can impair school performance.

Experts say that there is a set of signs that must be observed for a correct diagnosis. Usually the signs of ADHD are noticed during childhood, until around 12 years of age. In addition to inattention, which harms children especially during school time, hyperactivity and impulsivity can also harm children, especially in social life.

Most experts say that the person is born with the disorder, although others say that recent studies have shown that it is possible to develop the disorder as an adult. Despite the controversies, it is important to know that to diagnose ADHD it is necessary to analyze beyond the patient’s symptoms, such as his/her life history.

This history is generated from childhood, with distraction and hyperactivity. As a teenager, he tends to have problems with school performance and with performing certain tasks, especially the most bureaucratic and repetitive ones. These behaviors are carried into adulthood: he cannot keep up with college studies, he does not stop at a job because he has difficulty performing simple activities, such as reports, for example, but that require focus and attention. An adult with attention deficit, in addition to inattention and not being able to stay quiet, he leaves everything to the last minute: he is a born procrastinator.

It is also common for adult patients to develop anxiety disorders, panic attacks, irritability, bipolarity, mood and conduct disorders and depression. Therefore, whoever is diagnosed with ADHD must undergo treatment with a psychiatrist or neurologist, combined with psychotherapy, to improve their quality of life.

Does everyone distracted have ADHD?

The answer is not. Only distraction or situations in which the person is performing tasks inattentively do not constitute a disorder. Change of environment and routine, stress, excessive use of electronics, excessive alcohol consumption and even anxiety are factors that can cause symptoms such as procrastination and difficulty concentrating.

In the case of the disorder, it is important to observe the symptoms that manifest themselves in at least two different environments (home, school, leisure) for at least six months. As already mentioned, the disorder usually manifests itself in childhood, but it is common for the diagnosis to take a long time to happen and is only made in adulthood.

In these cases, it is quite common to find traumatized people with low self-esteem after spending years being told that they are “lazy” or “relaxed”. Therefore, currently, there is a great concern to make people aware that the disorder is a health issue and not just an unwillingness to be different.

How is the treatment?

After diagnosis, treatment is based on medication, psychotherapy and physical activities. Experts emphasize, however, that a patient effort is needed for the method to be successful. It is not enough to just take the medication: the patient needs to collaborate by designing strategies to improve attention, remember where he leaves objects, create an agenda with tasks in order of priority, among others that can be defined in psychotherapy.

* with information from reports published on 03/01/2021 and 08/14/2019.