What experts have to say to your common queries on ADHD

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ADHD is a term loosely thrown around but it actually refers to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder if you don’t already know.

It’s not just a childhood disorder but a lifelong condition. Dr Lim Boon Leng, a psychiatrist at Gleneagles Medical Centre, shared that about 30% of children would have their symptoms continue into adulthood.

There has been more light shed on ADHD recently via CNA Insider and thus we would like to take this chance to dig deeper. Here are what experts have to say to the public’s common queries on ADHD.

Is ADD the same as ADHD?

According to Dr Bhanu Gupta of the Institute of Mental Health (IMH), the label “attention deficit disorder” (ADD) is a dated phrase for ADHD. ADD was the original diagnosis name for what is now known as ADHD. Presently, inattentive-subtype ADHD may be referred to as ADD too.

How is ADHD diagnosed? What are the signs?

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) is a tool used by doctors to detect ADHD. For hasty- and hyper-related behavior problems, there are nine measures, and for attention deficit, there are nine too.

Fiddling a lot, chatting a great deal, dishing out responses before questions end, and disrupting others are all symptoms of hyperactivity and impulsivity. Being easily carried away, having trouble organizing chores, and delaying or hating things that demand prolonged mental effort, such as coursework or writing reports, are all signs of inattention.

Kids must normally meet six or more of the evaluation criteria, while individuals aged 17 and above must meet a minimum of five of them. Children, particularly boys, are more prone to having hyperactive characteristics, according to Lim. However, as children become older, they tend to internalize their restlessness.

Do you advise that I get myself or my child checked?
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Obtaining a clinical diagnosis for adults can be impactful and aids with closure, according to Lim. “Many people with ADHD have gone through a pretty rough time in childhood – they’ve always been criticized, they’ve always been told off and told they’re lazy,” he added.

As per Dr Vicknesan Jeyan Marimuttu, head and senior consultant at KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital’s (KKH) child and adolescent mental wellness service, having a kid assessed can help the family, school, and individual comprehend his or her challenges adequately.

“Often, children may be blamed for being naughty… when in fact the underlying issue is that of ADHD,” he said. “Over a period of time, the mislabelling can result in a sense of helplessness in parents and poor self-esteem in children.”

Where can I go to get a diagnosis at a cheaper rate?

A recommendation from any polyclinic or Community Health Assist Scheme (CHAS) GP clinic (for CHAS cardholders) is required to be shown at IMH as a subsidized patient. But do note that while concessionary patients can enjoy reduced rates, they are likely to wait much longer for a consultation slot than unsubsidized or private patients.

To provide you with a sense of the cost, the first examination at IMH costs S$42 for adult subsidized patients and S$46 for kids and teens. At KKH, qualifying patients are also entitled to reduced rates. Without subsidies, the first appointment with a private specialist can cost up to S$300.

A visit to a psychologist is also an alternative. According to Jean Tan, a clinical psychologist with Cognitive Health Consultancy International, a psychologist will generally give psychological support to assist patients in better controlling their ADHD symptoms. With more psychologists at polyclinics nowadays, you can expect a referral process after seeing the GP.

Can I know what to expect when I go for the initial screening?

Grown-ups will undergo an initial evaluation at IMH, where a complete mental background will be collected, and symptoms of ADHD will be examined, frequently through a designed questionnaire.

As the individual goes through the full examination, which is based on the DSM-5 criteria, Lim remarked that the indicators of ADHD can become prominent. He frequently asks questions in a sequential sequence, going over the patient’s personal history and looking for indicators.

“The approach is very much open-ended, so we don’t lead them into answering whether they have or do not have concentration issues,” he said. “Rather, the approach is more to find out what problems they’re facing, and let them describe it.”

What are the ways to help myself deal with the effects of ADHD?

Gupta noted that most ADHD recommendations advocate medication as the initial method of treatment. But clinical psychologist Tan commented that although medicine can help with restlessness and attentiveness, not all individuals will embrace it. This is where a psychologist can assist patients in understanding ADHD symptoms and how they substantially affect daily life.

“Strategies such as cognitive behavioral therapy can then be developed, to overcome problems such as procrastination, time management, and organizational difficulties.”

Gupta agrees and explains that psychological therapy can help with the behavioral and emotional elements of ADHD, as well as prevalent co-morbidities like anxiety and depression. Many people have benefited from ADHD coaching, although it is costly and not readily accessible.

Is it compulsory to declare my condition to my current or future employer?
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As we come to a close, some of you must be wondering if it’s compulsory to make your condition known to your employer. To that, Lim said, “If you understand your company culture and you know they may not provide you help and may make things difficult… then you’re entitled to keep your condition confidential.”

But Lim said that he has observed numerous organizations make accommodations for employees with ADHD, such as providing a private work area and not pushing them to hot desk.

He did point out, nonetheless, that varied levels of acceptance of psychiatric or psychological problems exist. You will ultimately have to consider whether disclosing your condition will benefit you in any manner.

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