Sunday, April 28, 2013

A Brief Word on ADHD

Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, or ADHD, is a pattern of persistent inattention and/or hyperactivity, most often evident before age seven. The symptoms cause impairment in at least two settings, such as school and work, and it is more severe than what is usually seen with others of the same age and developmental status.

Many students experience periods of time when they are restless or have trouble concentrating. In fact, almost all students will go through some adjustment strains from the time they arrive at college, and may have very similar attention problems as a result. Also, there are other problems that can mimic ADHD, such as anxiety disorders, traumatic stress, alcohol or drug abuse, overuse of social media and gaming, and even ordinary family conflict.

If you have arrived on campus with a history of ADHD, it is important to continue with your treatment and to provide your local psychologist with documentation of your past diagnosis and treatment. This will improve continuity of care and perhaps prevent unnecessary problems in school.

It is unlikely that ADHD will suddenly appear in a student's adulthood. Yet sometimes students are convinced they have ADHD and take medications offered to them by friends. And some know they don't have ADHD but choose to take amphetamines as a performance enhancement drug.  Please know this may do you no good at all and, in some cases, can actually cause you harm. Diagnosing an adult with ADHD involves a sophisticated and comprehensive evaluation by psychologists, and should be undertaken with great care so that other possibilities are ruled out.  One should avoid evaluations based on checklists and self-report measures alone, as these are likely to lead to over-diagnosing.

If you suspect you have ADHD but you have never been formally diagnosed or treated, call your campus counseling service for assistance.