Non-communicable Diseases

Untreated ADHD in adults: Your health is on our minds




These three words describe  a mental health condition; Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder. But even with this description, it remains highly undiagnosed.

Consultant psychiatrist Prof Lukoye Atwoli notes that ADHD affects personal, interpersonal and social interactions, and negatively impacts the quality of life of affected individuals and their families.

A state of balance of mind and body needs support from all,. Photo by Bekir Dönmez on Unsplash

“As a result, persons with this condition may present with the following effects either at school, work or within the social circles. These include poor productivity, substance and drug abuse, employment difficulties and failure to sustain relationships for long,”  said Prof Atwoli who is also the Dean of Medical College, East Africa, at the Aga Khan University.

In children, ADHD presents in the following ways

  • Academic under-achievement,
  • Problems with interpersonal relationships with family members and peers.
  • Low self-esteem

Attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder in children has been studied over the years but only has the same mental health condition in adults been researched more intensively in the last couple of years.

  Prof Lukoye Atwoli, Consultant psychiatrist and Dean of Medical College, East Africa  at Aga Khan University.

According to a 2010 research study by Prof Atwoli  and colleagues to determine the prevalence of self-reported ADHD symptoms among university students in Eldoret, the prevalence was reported at 21.8%.

“A diagnosis of this condition is  given when at at least six out of eighteen possible  symptoms are reported over  a  considerable  period  of time  like at  least  six  months,” said Prof Atwoli.

The study led by Prof Atwoli  gave a self-administered  questionnaire  developed  by  the  World  Health Organisation to students in the schools of Medicine, Dentistry  and Public Health at the Moi University.

It is interesting to note that the  ADHD symptoms were higher  among participants aged 17-20 years compared with  older participants and a  lack  of  significant  difference  between the genders was also noted.

The brain in an adult with ADHD is marked with Inattention, hyperactivity. impulsivity. Photo by Natasha Connell on Unsplash

“The high rates of self-reported ADHD symptoms  in  this  study  demonstrate  the  need  for  clinicians to have a high index of suspicion especially when confronted  with  students  having  academic  and  interpersonal difficulties,” read excerpts of the study.

What are some of the symptoms that a mental health specialist looks for to arrive at a ADHD diagnosis?

  • Inattention
  • Lacks attention to detail
  • Makes careless mistakes
  • Has difficulty sustaining attention
  • Doesn’t seem to listen.
  • Fails to follow through/fails to finish instructions or schoolwork.
  • Has difficulty organising tasks.
  • Avoids tasks requiring mental effort.
  • Often loses items necessary for completing a task.
  • Easily distracted.
  • Is forgetful in daily activities.

Part 2  on ADHD coming up next week

Please follow and like us:

Comment here