ADHD Questions and Answers

The theme for October’s ADHD Awareness Month is Common Questions, Reliable Answers.

We have collected some of those questions and selected internationally-respected researchers and ADHD professionals to answer them.

We’ll add one a day through the month of October. So check back regularly to learn more!

Click on the question for a short answer and a link to a more in-depth one.

We’ve also added groups to the total list: What to do?, What is it?, What impact has it?

Think you might be missing something? Check the list of all the questions and answers here.

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Where can I find reliable ADHD information and resources?

Reliable information about ADHD can be found at the Centers for Disease Control, the National Institute of Mental Health, and the National Resource Center on ADHD. CHADD (Children and Adults with ADHD), ADDA (Attention Deficit Disorder Association) and ACO (ADHD Coaches Organization) are good resources for next steps, as is the International Conference on ADHD held in November each year.

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Can you have a
successful life with ADHD?

ADHD does present challenges, but among the unique characteristics of ADHD, there are both positive and negative traits. These traits provide benefits, resources, skills and strategies you can use to overcome those challenges.

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What can help people with ADHD who need to spend a lot of time on their computers?

Whether viewing interesting or tedious material on computer screens for long periods of time, the very act can be physically, mentally, and emotionally stressful. Fortunately, many simple-to-use strategies are easily accessible, readily available, and offer relief.

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Aren’t medications for ADHD just different versions of illegal drugs?

Unlike illegal drugs, prescription stimulants are effective and safe treatments for many people with ADHD. However, people taking stimulants should be carefully monitored for signs of abuse and dependence.

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Isn’t ADHD just an excuse for laziness?

ADHD may look like a lack of willpower or an excuse for laziness when it’s not. ADHD is really a problem with the chemical dynamics of the brain. It is not under voluntary control!

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What are the advantages and disadvantages of disclosing at work that I have ADHD?

Disclosing your ADHD may influence the judgement of your employer.
But no disclosure means no adjustments and no protective rights.

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Why are there so many people with ADHD in the prison population?

Imagine being misunderstood for your whole life, only popular when you’re silly, totally disenfranchised with school, out of work, you find drinking to excess, or taking illegal drugs make you feel normal and you find you can do “normal things.” You are now starting to figure out why so many people with ADHD are in prison.

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Are there supplements that can improve ADHD symptoms?

Several single nutrients have been tried to treat ADHD but apart from the omega 3 fatty acids, this approach has been largely unsuccessful. Research that combines minerals and vitamins at higher doses has been shown to be more powerful at managing ADHD symptoms in the long term than any single nutrients alone.

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If my child is diagnosed with ADHD, won’t they be labeled?

Children and adults impacted by attention, executive function, and related learning challenges are better able than ever before to see their differences in a hopeful new light. And researchers who study resilience through the lifespan remind us of the important role this plays in helping us rise above life’s adversities, whatever they may be.

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What are the long-term health implications of ADHD?

ADHD negatively impacts numerous domains of health, wellness, and adverse medical conditions, increases risk for earlier mortality in childhood and by mid-life, and reduces estimated life expectancy in later life. These risks are likely to be reduced or mitigated by early and sustained interventions to manage ADHD including medications and evidence-based psychosocial treatments.

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Why should I consider parent training?

Kids with ADHD benefit from direct tools and regular connection to improve their executive functioning skills. Parent training gives parents the techniques, strategies and confidence to empower their children and teens for success at home and school.

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How can I best parent my ADHD child?

What kids with ADHD need most is a parent who really understands the way their brain is wired, accepts and respects them for all their complexity, believes in their strengths and possibilities, and empowers them to want to reach their full potential. How to do that? It may be easier than you think!

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Why does ADHD seem to run in families?

Part of the reason why ADHD runs in families is down to genetics. Parents with ADHD are likely to carry a high load of ADHD-related variants in their genes, and they are more likely than parents without ADHD to pass some of them on to their children.

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What is ADHD coaching?

ADHD Coaches are specifically trained to work with clients who have ADHD or ADHD-like symptoms. They help their clients create systems and strategies to manage practical aspects of life.

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If my child has extra time and other accommodations at school, isn’t that cheating?

Recognition of attention problems as a disability allows us to make specific and evidence based accommodations specific to that child’s impairments. All accommodations are fair when they give a child the opportunity to show what they have been able to learn.

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What are the most common relationship issues when one partner has ADHD?

Having under-managed ADHD in your relationship means angry interactions are likely. But once you understand ADHD better, you can find the love you thought you had lost.

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How can people with ADHD eat healthier?

People with ADHD eat unhealthier foods, despite their knowledge about the risks. Because they are more influenced by advertising, a possible intervention may be to increase the attractiveness and the convenience of healthy foods.

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Why is it important to diagnose and treat ADHD in adulthood?

Diagnosis and treatment of ADHD in adulthood is important because it is never too late to improve your life and you can’t solve a problem until you identify it. Realizing that you have ADHD and seeking treatment go a long way toward self-acceptance – and understanding that you aren’t just lazy, crazy, or stupid!

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What is the difference in ADHD between males and females?

Research has found that the symptoms of ADHD in males and females are more alike than different. But when you ask men and women about their lived experiences with ADHD, you are likely to find some striking differences.

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What does a comprehensive treatment plan for children with ADHD look like/include?

Any comprehensive plan should include a full explanation of the condition and the available treatments in understandable terms.

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What is the relationship between ADHD and emotional regulation?

ADHD is associated with an elevated risk for various mood and anxiety disorders beyond just impulsive emotions. However, the emotional disturbances in ADHD are just that – emotions: short duration, provoked, and often situation specific. Understanding the role of emotional impulsiveness (EI) and deficient emotional self-regulation (DESR) would help differentiate frequent social interaction problems and impairments of ADHD from mood disorders

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What other diagnoses are seen with ADHD?

ADHD goes along with other diagnoses over the life span. In childhood, oppositional defiant disorder or conduct disorder are e.g. frequently occurring with ADHD. In adulthood, mood and anxiety disorders, but also substance use disorders are found most often.

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What is the connection between ADHD and sleep problems?

ADHD and sleep problems are intimately intertwined in 80% of children and adults with ADHD during lifetime.
The sleep loss results in increased severity of ADHD symptoms, (winter) depression, obesity, and chronic diseases in the long term.

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What does a comprehensive treatment plan for adults with ADHD look like/include?

ADHD in adults is best managed with a combination of medication, learning about ADHD, therapy and/or coaching. We need to address both the brain wiring and also the psychological impact of living with ADHD.

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How common is ADHD in children and adults?

ADHD is estimated to be present in 5.29% of the children worldwide. In adults, this is between 2.8 and 4.4%. These are averages: estimates vary in different countries.

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What is the relationship between ADHD and obesity / eating habits?

Adults with ADHD have unhealthy eating habits, leading to overweight/obesity, with the odds ratio increasing with age. They are also suffering more from eating disorders.

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What are the advantages and disadvantages of taking ADHD medication?

The medications used to treat ADHD reduce the symptoms of the disorder and many functional outcomes: delinquency, substance abuse, criminality, and suicidality. They can cause unwanted side effects but, for most patients, these side effects can be controlled by reducing the dose or changing medications.

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What causes ADHD?

In most people having the diagnosis, ADHD is likely to be the result of their genetic make-up (i.e. their DNA) and events that happen to them throughout life. Together, these may cause slight differences in the development of the brain, as we see them in people with ADHD.

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What are the risk factors for people with ADHD during the coronavirus pandemic?

The biggest concerns for adolescents and young adults with ADHD during COVID-19 are social isolation, motivation problems, and difficulties engaging in online work or schooling. These risk factors create a perfect storm for the onset of depression, school dropout, or work underperformance.

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What are some ways to reduce stress with ADHD?

Medication, psychotherapy or coaching are often important first steps to reduce stress with ADHD by lowering core ADHD symptoms, changing unhelpful habits, and achieving goals.  At the same time, a healthy lifestyle (regular daily routine, adequate sleep, healthy diet, exercise, time in nature), mindfulness practice, and effective communication create the foundation for stress resilience.  

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How are ADHD and executive functioning related?

Old Idea: ADHD is just inability to pay attention and often being too restless.

New Idea: ADHD involves problems with setting priorities, getting organized and getting started; sustaining attention and effort, managing alertness and emotions; utilizing working memory and other aspects of the brain’s self-management system, its “executive functions.”

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