We all have symptoms of ADHD. Right?
I consulted with Dr. TikTok this week to find out I have ADHD. According to the millions of diagnostic “tools” on the platform, I seem to be showing the vast majority of “signs”.
See @neuronush (sharing awareness with her 95.5k followers) explaining that ADHD sufferers hate loud noises, noisy meals, slow walks, and making plans. Well, I absolutely hate slow walkers. And I’m weirdly sensitive to bangs. Meanwhile, @doctorshepard_md red flags that I’ve been labeled “cozy and sensitive” and “moving in my chair”; @usamedical offers an adult ADHD test that asks if I “have trouble remembering appointments” or feel “overactive”; while @connordewolfe suggests I can be ‘hyper-focused’, causing me to obsess over random tasks.
Despite first being diagnosed in the late 18th century, attention deficit disorders are now at the heart of modern malaise. According to ADHD UK, around 2.6 million people in the UK suffer from this condition, with an adult prevalence of 3-4 per cent of the population. According to data from the ADHD Foundation, the number of adults seeking a diagnosis has increased by 400 percent since 2020. According to a national survey of parents in the United States, 9.8 percent of children aged 3-17 have been diagnosed with ADHD. Using 2016-19 data.
This week a BBC Panorama documentary revealed the rapid increase in adult diagnoses through the boom in private clinics and the increased use of powerful ADHD medications. With NHS waiting lists for treatment lasting up to five years, people are increasingly paying private doctors and clinics to attend. Unsurprisingly, outsourcing health care and the use of expensive methylphenidate (the main ingredient in Ritalin and Concerta) may put the very existence of some private clinics in some jeopardy. As the BBC documentary discovered, he was diagnosed with the condition three times during video calls, until a final meeting with an NHS consultant concluded he did not have ADHD.
I’m not an ADHD denier, but sometimes it can seem like everyone has a need. A colleague who was diagnosed with ADD in his twenties makes this clear when he says, “when the main tool for diagnosis is asking if you’re distracted by things that don’t interest you, everyone has ADHD there is.” You don’t feel stigmatized by a neurodevelopmental disorder or the mental health issues it causes. But he bristles at the assumption by many that by taking medicine, he is somehow taking a “performance-enhancing drug”.
There’s certainly a brisk trade in ADHD meds in the playground, especially during exam month, where half a Concerta, a can of Red Bull and a donut guarantee an uninterrupted 14-hour revision buzz. (I tried to score some Ritalin for this column as research, but unfortunately some geography students beat me to it, and the ADHD dealer keeps a close eye on his stock.)
And if you feel like everyone has ADHD symptoms, that’s probably because they do. in his book Scattered minds, the physician and ADHD expert Dr. Maté Gabor argues as follows: “if someone were to be diagnosed with ADD and show some of its characteristics, we would put Ritalin in the drinking water and sign up most of the industrialized world for group psychotherapy. ” He goes on to quote Dr. Edward Hallowell and John Ratey, the book’s authors He drove for distraction, who pioneered a broader understanding of ADD, who stated that “ADD is not a category, but a dimensional diagnosis.” We probably all have little quirks. What’s more, during times of extreme stress, our brains can tip over into more extreme behaviors: ADHD can affect us and go away again at different stages of life. According to Maté, the main question is not whether symptoms appear, but how pronounced they are: the problem arises when the characteristics become so overwhelming that they “deteriorate a person’s functioning to a degree”.
Yes, I get bored easily by things that bore me. I’m forgetful, I zone out, and I often feel “a constant lack of calm” (as Maté says) in my brain. In 1934, the New England Journal identified “organic motivation” as a troubling quality in the lives of certain people. And I completely get that feeling. I also need the threat of failure or the promise of reward to complete tasks. I mean, look – right now! I’m on a crazy deadline! What additional evidence do you need? And did I mention I hate noisy eaters? However, as far as I can tell, I am still able to lead a fairly unhindered life.
Instead of suffering from any serious mental illness, I simply deal with some of the minor and fairly harmless features of the condition. Basically, I’m just a very irritable person who might need a little help one day.