The most common psychiatric disorder diagnosed in childhood is ADHD (Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) which has been found to persist into adulthood 60% of the time, despite it being a disorder which is generally considered to lessen with age. Studies have largely concentrated on childhood ADHD, but if left untreated, in adults it can have devastating consequences on the individual’s quality of life and for society at large.
Throughout childhood, ADHD can be characterised by educational underachievement, impulsivity, inattention and hyperactivity. In adolescence and in adulthood, it can result in unemployment, relationship breakdowns, criminality, self-harm, substance abuse and antisocial behaviours.
There is currently no cure as it is categorized as a neurodevelopmental disorder, but ADHD can be well managed and treatment usually consists of a combination of medication, such as Methylphenidate or stimulants and non-stimulants depending on the symptoms of the sufferer, alongside therapies such as CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, ie: reframing thought processes and implementing new strategies), MBCT (Mindfulness-based CBT), and Occupational therapy which focuses on environmental changes and skill-building.
Worldwide, ADHD is estimated to affect 5% of the population and with more stringent diagnostic criteria, this number appears to be increasing. Genetics play a big part in causation, but as our society continues to live sleep deprived, electronically charged, indoor lives in an environment which is chemical-ridden and compounded by poor dietary choices, it is being questioned as to whether the stress from these lifestyle habits along with an unstructured digital existence, is being stored in our DNA and handed down through our genes to our children and grandchildren. Is it any wonder disorders such as ADHD are on the rise throughout the Western world?
Technology has changed the way we think and live our lives in the past few decades, more than ever before in human history. Our attention span has been shortened from 12 to 8 seconds (shorter than a goldfish) making us very easily distracted. Relationships, memory and decision-making skills have all been adversely affected by our reliance on technology while our bodies and minds have not been able to evolve fast enough to adapt to these new stimuli, hence the observable increase in psychiatric disorders such as ADHD, even among adults. It is possible our brains are working hard to meet the speed and capability of computers while our general human condition is lagging behind, hence the dichotomy causing confusion in our inner working selves. Such a conflicted state will inevitably cause difficulties in the self-regulation of our behaviour and the ability to focus on the routine of our daily lives, while the demands of technology continue to drive us ever forward to an uncertain future.
If this is the case, we need to prepare for a further rise in such disorders as ADHD in children and in adults alike and provide as much stability, reassurance and calming therapies as we can, alongside a diet which will nourish the brain as well as the body.
‘A healthy outside starts from the Inside’
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