Everyone’s brain is wired differently. People with ADHD have been extensively studied using specialized brain scans which show a reduced amount of certain brain hormones (notably dopamine and noradrenaline) to the front part of their brains which controls organization, concentration, impulsivity and certain memory functions. ADHD usually starts in childhood but can start later in life or not be picked up in childhood. It is becoming increasingly recognized in adults. At school, kids may struggle to complete work, make unnecessary mistakes, struggle to wait their turn, daydream, battle to sit still, lose belongings constantly and battle to organize things. Adults learn to manage behaviour and as a result, experience the ‘hyperactivity’ as ‘inner-restlessness’ which may make sitting down at a desk or watching a movie very hard. It becomes a struggle to focus on one thing, especially in a noisy environment. Completing tasks and organizing things is also difficult. Impulsive behaviour such as driving too fast, losing your temper, quitting jobs or leaving relationships without thinking of the consequences become common.
Management includes a combination of medication and behavioural changes. For those with ADHD, medication can be life-changing. The medication class is known as ‘stimulants’ and the mechanism of action is the increase of dopamine and/ or noradrenaline (depending on what medication is given) to the frontal cortex and thus increasing focus, organization, alertness and reduced restlessness and hyperactivity. Behavioural changes include creating ways of structuring the day, techniques to remember things and a regular routine. I have extensive personal experience in this area in both childhood and adult ADHD, so I have a good understanding of the illness and management required.