Description: Over the past year with COVID-19 there has been a marked increase in the number of adults who are either revealed to have ADHD or in whom ADHD has emerged as they struggled with the broad array of issues such as social distancing, social isolation, and work and economic uncertainty associated with COVID-19. Does this statement make sense to you? It very well might seem to make sense because we seem to have a readiness to believe that any indications of difficulties in focusing, concentrating, and staying on task likely reflect an emerging Attention Deficit Disorder (ADHD). Now consider this finding. A clinic that specializes in diagnosing and treating ADHD reviewed its long-term records and reported that of the hundreds of people who came into the clinic convinced they had adult ADHD only 5% (yes, only one in twenty) actually turned out to meet the diagnostic criteria for ADHD. This finding suggests two things. First, perhaps we should question our sense that the statement I opened with above is true. Second, we really need to ask and find out what is going on; why are so many people looking for help with what they think is an attention deficit disorder that it turns out they do not have? Give the article linked below a read to see what research has to say on this matter.
Source: Is it adult ADHD? COVID-19 has people feeling restless, lacking focus and seeking diagnosis, Allyson G. Harrison, The Conversation.
Date: March 24, 2021
So, do the questions seem a bit more sorted out now after having read the article? The bottom line is that our ability to focus our attention and maintain that focus is a core part of how we mentally manage ourselves on a day-to-day and even moment-to-moment basis and there are a LOT of things that can mess with our attentional abilities. ADHD only accounts for a tiny proportion of this as only 4.4% of adults meet the diagnostic criteria for ADHD. Now, functional ADHD is a much bigger thing and life in the time of COVID-19 HAS created conditions that have seriously attacked our ability to manage our attention and maintain our focus. Luckily, the symptoms Can be dealt with and the authors of the linked article provide a good list of things you can do to improve your attentional skills and abilities these days so re-read them and try some of them out if you have been wondering about your current ADHD status.
Questions for Discussion:
- What is the difference between having ADHD and having difficulties maintaining attentional focus?
- What is the relationship between childhood and adult ADHD?
- What does the research discussed in the linked article suggest about the role of attention and attention management in our day-to-day functioning?
References (Read Further):
Kessler, R. C., Adler, L., Barkley, R., Biederman, J., Conners, C. K., Demler, O., … & Zaslavsky, A. M. (2006). The prevalence and correlates of adult ADHD in the United States: results from the National Comorbidity Survey Replication. American Journal of psychiatry, 163(4), 716-723. Link
Fayyad, J., De Graaf, R., Kessler, R., Alonso, J., Angermeyer, M., Demyttenaere, K., … & Jin, R. (2007). Cross-national prevalence and correlates of adult attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. The British Journal of Psychiatry, 190(5), 402-409. Link
Harrison, A. G., Nay, S., & Armstrong, I. T. (2019). Diagnostic accuracy of the Conners’ adult ADHD rating scale in a postsecondary population. Journal of attention disorders, 23(14), 1829-1837. Link
Mannuzza, S., Klein, R. G., Klein, D. F., Bessler, A., & Shrout, P. (2002). Accuracy of adult recall of childhood attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. American Journal of Psychiatry, 159(11), 1882-1888. Link
Harrison, A. G., Alexander, S. J., & Armstrong, I. T. (2013). Higher reported levels of depression, stress, and anxiety are associated with increased endorsement of ADHD symptoms by postsecondary students. Canadian Journal of School Psychology, 28(3), 243-260. Link
Offord, Catherine (2020) How Social Isolation Affects the Brain, The Scientist. Link
Harrison, A.G. and Medd, J. (2011) Screening Young Adults for Possible ADHD: Think Horses Not Zebras, paper presented at the Canadian Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder Resource Alliance Conference, Toronto, Canada Link
Sibley, M. H., Rohde, L. A., Swanson, J. M., Hechtman, L. T., Molina, B. S., Mitchell, J. T., … & Multimodal Treatment Study of Children with ADHD (MTA) Cooperative Group. (2018). Late-onset ADHD reconsidered with comprehensive repeated assessments between ages 10 and 25. American Journal of Psychiatry, 175(2), 140-149. Link