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Adult ADHD misdiagnosed as anxiety? Roughly, eight million adults have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and that number is probably greater, as very few men or women with ADHD ever receive a diagnosis.
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a mental health disorder that affects boys and girls equally. Sixty percent of child ADHD carries into adulthood, regardless of sex, accounting for 4.4 percent of all American adults, according to psychological research.
Sadly, a disproportionately high number of adults who suffer from ADHD will ever see the connection, and an even lower percentage of women than men who seek mental health therapy are ultimately diagnosed with adult ADHD disorder.
Symptoms of adult ADHD include:
Difficulty concentrating or paying attention
Difficulty following directions
Lack of organizational skills
Moodiness, anxiety, and depression
Difficulty making work deadlines or long-term goals, procrastinates
Gets easily distracted while reading
Low self-esteem, pessimistic personality
Tendency towards addiction to things such as gambling, food, drugs, shopping, or video games
Eating disorders, seeking comfort in food
Low tolerance for frustration
Difficulty maintaining healthy relationships
Why is there a gender bias towards males in ADHD?
In female psychology, many factors exist that would complicate a diagnosis of ADHD.
Physicians often ascribe underlying ADHD symptoms, including low sense of self-worth, depression, frustration, and moodiness to “female problems.” Often they’re correct in diagnosing stress, depression, or premenstrual syndrome (PMS) in their female patients, but they fail to catch any clues suggesting adult ADHD.
1. The myth of male ADHD
There is a public misconception that attention deficit disorder (ADD) and ADHD are male disorders. As a result, women who experience ADHD symptoms are not likely to seek a diagnosis, and doctors who treat them are equally unlikely to suggest treatment for ADHD.
2. It’s just anxiety
Adults and children with ADHD tend to suffer from anxiety or depression, as well. Therefore, when women ADHD sufferers seek psychiatric help for their emotional problems, they receive prescriptions for anti-anxiety medication or antidepressants, but the question of ADHD medication, such as Ritalin or Concerta, is never considered.
For many years, people viewed ADD/ADHD disorder as primarily a children’s problem. Only recently has adult ADHD caught the public’s eye, but the notion of grown-ups receiving ADHD medication is still far from mainstream.
4. It’s just girls being girls
Girls, as a whole, tend to be more chatty, impulsive, and passionate than boys- characteristics that are typical of ADHD. Therefore, it’s not unusual for young women who are hyperactive, overenthusiastic, or driven by their emotions to seek help for ADHD.
5. Learning how to fake it
Women are very self-conscious of their social standing. Likewise, girls with ADHD often learn certain defense mechanisms by the time they reach adulthood, effectively masking their social difficulties and feelings of awkwardness. Nevertheless, problems with low self-esteem, depression, and anxiety remain.
6. I am woman…
Today’s woman wears many “hats;” she is expected to hold down a salary, keep the household clean and orderly, and be a nurturing parenting role model to her children and wife to her husband. It’s no wonder, then, that women who struggle to make ends meet, despite suffering from ADHD, chalk it up to modern-day stress.
7. Self-fulfilling prophecy
Women with ADHD develop a “learned helplessness.” When things don’t go the way they’ve planned, or they have difficulty meeting others’ expectations or deadlines, they tend to just give up, blame themselves, and accept defeat. The same attitude applies to seeking therapy- she dismisses the notion that change is possible. This type of self-fulfilling prophecy becomes a vicious circle of failure and regret.
8. It’s a PMS thing
Hormonal fluctuations cause moodiness, depression, and attention difficulties, thereby masking any underlying symptoms of ADHD in women who suffer from PMS, pre-menopause, or postnatal depression.
Women are at high risk of suffering from iron deficiency caused by heavy periods. Unless you take iron supplements, you could experience symptoms such as disorientation, memory loss, and other delays in cognitive behavior, especially if you also have a disposition for ADHD.
10. It’s personal
Women who grew up in abusive homes may become adults who have personal problems socializing and generally “fitting in,” maintaining organizational skills, and accomplishing long-term goals. Similarly, women with ADD or ADHD who have suffered from a traumatic experience or lack parental role models might never suspect that ADHD is among their many other social problems.
Malissa Jones, once nicknamed “Britain’s fattest teen” is now quite possibly Britain’s skinniest…and unhappiest teen, following gastric bypass surgery.
Lose weight now, she was told, or your life is at stake
At the age of 16, Ms. Jones was warned by her doctor that she would have only months to live, unless she lost weight. Morbidly obese, Malissa weighed in at 34 stone. (In American-speak, that’s 476 pounds.) Having already had a mild heart attack a year earlier, Malissa was told to lose 280 pounds, lest the next heart attack be her last.
Her diet consisted of mainly junk food like chocolate and potato chips. At 5’8, Malissa consumed about 15,000 calories a day, more than 7 times the amount recommended for a girl of her age with her build. Malissa had all the symptoms of obesity; she suffered from angina, a cardiovascular disease normally associated with old age, at the tender age of 15. At nighttime she was forced to wear an oxygen mask, because doctors warned that her heart and lungs couldn’t withstand the force of her weight while she was lying down.
In 2008, at the age of 17, Malissa Jones made headlines when she became the youngest person ever in the UK to receive gastric bypass surgery, of which the cut-off age is generally 18. The $20,000 NHS funded operation entailed stapling her stomach to a significantly smaller size and “bypassing” her digestive system so as to limit food absorption. For this reason, gastric bypass patients are unable to digest vitamins such as B12 from food sources, and must submit to a lifetime of vitamin supplements in order to prevent severe vitamin B12 deficiency.
The surgery was a success, at least at first. Two years post surgery, Malissa had lost half her body weight, although she still carried about 28 pounds of loose, excess flabby skin, a side effect which causes quite a bit of dismay among bariatric surgery patients.
“I’m too thin. My body shocks me. But swallowing is painful.
Eating a tiny amount gives me stomach cramps or makes me sick,” admits Malissa.
At the age of 20 she became pregnant. Doctors were concerned that her newly stapled stomach might rupture from the weight of the baby’s womb; at six months Malissa suffered liver failure, so she was forced to have a Cesarean birth. Her baby boy, named Harry, died only one hour after surgery of malnutrition. During her pregnancy, and likely as a result of her weight loss surgery, she was not physically able to eat enough food to support herself and the baby. Malissa was devastated.
Today, Malissa once again battles for her life, only now her enemy is anorexia nervosa
Now, Malissa is 21-years-old and weighs a mere 112 pounds. Diagnosed with anorexia nervosa, she admits that she has food phobia, and that eating makes her feel physically ill. Sometimes, she says, she would rather die than make herself eat. ”I’m too thin. My body shocks me. But swallowing is painful. Eating a tiny amount gives me stomach cramps or makes me sick,” admits Malissa.
Her regular daily diet consists of 3 cooked carrots, some turnips, and a roast potato, amounting to 300 calories, although she was advised to consume between 500 and 1,000 calories per day. Once again, Malissa is told that because of her weight she will likely die of a heart attack within months, only now the challenge is to eat enough to keep her alive.
Too late for regrets
In an interview from 2009, Malissa admits that she wishes she had never had the gastric bypass surgery, and that she liked her body better before when she was fat. The cost for excessive skin removal is $33,000, more than this 21-year-old, who had to quit her job because of disability caused by anorexia, can afford to save up. While the NHS agreed to pay for her $20,00 weight loss surgery, they have not agreed to fund the plastic surgery required to remove the scarred, wrinkled, overhanging skin which typically results from rapid weight loss.
“At least it was firm and curvy, not droopy and saggy,” she says. “I had nice firm arms – now the skin just hangs and I have to cover them up because they look so awful.”
In addition to suffering anorexia, Malissa has chronic depression, for which she takes antidepressants; she also suffers gastrointestinal diseases, chronic fatigue and low immunity. Because she is not able to follow a healthy nutritious diet, her immune system has been severely compromised, leaving her at risk for infections.
On a final note, Malissa has this to say to any obese individuals considering gastric bypass surgery:
“I wish I’d lost the weight through exercise and healthy eating. I know this operation was life-saving, but the complications I’m suffering now might still kill me. The truth is I feel I’m no better off than I was before.”
For more information on some of the risks involved with gastric bypass surgery, please read:
The Journal of the American College of Cardiology recently published a report confirming that gastric bypass surgery not only helps you lose weight- it also might give you a healthier heart.
Scientific evidence supports the health benefits of gastric bypass surgery.
Scientists from the Medical College of Georgia recently concluded a study which focused on a group of individuals who were morbidly obese; the subjects studied were overweight to the point that if they didn’t lose weight immediately they would die an early age.
What is gastric bypass surgery?
Gastric bypass procedures essentially involve:
Division of the stomach into two pockets: a small upper pocket and a considerably larger lower pocket
Reconnecting of the small intestine to both pockets
Food bypasses the larger pocket in favor of the smaller stomach pouch
Typical life-threatening ailments resulting from morbid obesity include cardiovascular disease, type 2diabetes, and risk of stroke.
Out of the 733-member focus group, 423 elected for gastric bypass surgery while the rest did not.
Necessary weight loss led to reversed symptoms.
After two years the bypass surgery patients lost considerable amounts of weight, resulting in the following health benefits:
Decreased body mass index
Decreased waist measurements
Lowered systolic blood pressure
Lowered levels of triglycerides
Lowered levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol
Increased HDL (good) cholesterol
Increased insulin response
Heart structure improved, as well.
Obesity physically distorts the heart structure by creating excess muscular mass in the left ventricle and stretching the gap in the cavity of the right ventricle.
However, two years after gastric bypass surgery the following cardiovascular changes occurred among the 423-member group:
Reduced mass index in left ventricle
Reduced width of right ventricular cavity
Lowered heart rate
Gastric bypass surgery is a life-saving last resort.
In situations where obesity is not life-threatening physicians generally recommend losing weight naturally, no more than about a pound per week. Gastric bypass surgery is proposed only as recourse when the only other alternative is premature death. A dangerously high body mass index is necessary in order to qualify somebody for this elective surgery.
More information on the risks and benefits of gastric bypass surgery can be found at the Mayo Clinic.
Drink 8 8-ounce glasses of water every day. This rumor was started by the U.S. Food and Nutrition Board back in 1945. It’s important to keep your body hydrated, but keep in mind that we get plenty of water from the foods we eat and other fluids such as coffee, tea and milk.
Stress can make you go gray. A little stress is great for motivation, a lot of stress means it’s probably time to start taking it easy, but is there such thing as enough stress to actually make your hair turn silver? Doctors agree that excess stress does have an aging effect on the body by releasing stress hormones and free radicals, but the jury’s still out on it’s ability to change your hair color.
Reading in dim light will ruin your eyesight. Actually, the worst it will do is give you a bit of a headache and some worry lines from squinting. No permanent damage has been linked to extended period of reading in less-than-bright conditions.
Stop drinking coffee. Sure, a little too much of anything can be detrimental to your health, and it’s common knowledge that too much caffeine can make you feel nervous, anxious and even paranoid. Taken in moderation, though, coffee can be a great antioxidant. Plus, it gets you out the door in the morning.
Feed a cold, starve a fever. Nope. Ask any medical practitioner today and they’ll tell you the same thing: colds, viruses, fevers, flus – they go away when they’re good and ready. You can treat the symptoms – nothing soothes a scratchy throat like a steaming bowl of chicken soup – but nothing we do has any impact on how long the cold or virus lasts.
Fresh veggies are better than frozen. Actually, open-air produce loses quality and vitamin content the longer it sits in the sun, while frozen fruits and vegetables retain their original nutritional essence.
Eggs are high in cholesterol. Turns out the real culprits behind heart disease are saturated and trans-fats, while an egg a day is a good source of lean protein, vitamin A and vitamin D.
You can catch cold from being cold. Well, not exactly. Most people catch colds from exposing themselves to a virus. Stay warm enough to avoid hypothermia, but don’t blame your next cold on whoever left that window open all night.
Lipstick had lead poisoning. No more lead than your average candy bar. Lots of things contain minuscule amounts of lead, says the American Cancer Society, but serious lead poisoning is more likely linked to faulty plumbing.
Well, another year is upon us, and what better way to ring in the second decade of the 21st century than to make a firm commitment to live healthier, happier and wiser (once the confetti has settled and the bubbly champagne has fizzed out, that is).
Get your blood pressure down, that is. The WSU study concluded that soaking in water of any temperature is helpful for reducing blood pressure, although test participants who soaked in hot water demonstrated the lowest blood pressure of all.
Heart disease patients and diabetics should consider hydrotherapy for cardiovascular health and circulation. Water immersion gets your blood pumping and your heart thumping to a steady beat.
Athletes, listen up: soaking your muscles after a workout is more than just a treat to reward work well done – your body needs it in order to repair and soothe torn muscles.
Ever notice that wonderful light, anti-gravity feeling you get when you’re sitting in a body of water? Well, your joints notice it, too. Floating in a tub of water relieves the joints and increases flexibility.
And Just Chill
Studies have proven that taking a hot bath lowers stress by balancing the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems.