Ignorance of ADHD is pain not bliss

Disgraceful lack of support

In much of the World, the current state of recognition, support and help for ADHD is a disgrace.

In many regions there has been an unwillingness, a dragging of the feet to accept ADHD as a problem. We might disagree about the treatments but there is no scientific doubt a large genetically determined group of people share very similar mental characteristics. These ADHD traits lead to a much higher chance of addiction, depression, anxiety, job loses, marriage breakdown, accidents and even jail.

But simply being aware that you are ADHD, goes a long way to helping manage the symptoms and to avoid these troubles and to live a much happier and richer life. Better public awareness on ADHD would cost virtually nothing, yet many governments and medical institutions do nothing? Governments predict that:

higher public awareness of ADHD –> higher ADHD diagnosis costs –> higher ADHD medication cost

In the more insurance driven USA market, government plays a minor role and pharmaceuticals can advertise their benefits. In Europe, since much health care is part or wholly state funded there is clearly concern about a major new health care cost.

ADHD big numbers

ADHD is pretty common too, experts estimates vary from 2-10% of the population – it really depends on how inclusive the medical symptom criteria are. In a major ADHD screening analysis Fayyad et al, in 2007:
  • screened over 11 thousand adults (18-44 years old)
  • divided across ten countries in the Americas, Europe and the Middle East
  • estimates of adult ADHD prevalence low-income countries: 1.9%, high: 4.2%, average: 3.4%
So calculating ADHD adult numbers, using the higher-income countries figure of 4.2% for Europe/USA and population numbers from Google 03/2016:
  • over 242 million ADHD adults worldwide
  • over 2.6 million ADHD adults in the UK
  • over 31.1 million ADHD adults in Europe
  • over 13.3 million ADHD adults in the USA
Less than 1% of ADHD adults worldwide are diagnosed.

230+ million undiagnosed ADHD adults

So at least 230 million adults harassed and found fault with, on a daily basis by non-ADHD partners, spouses, bosses, partners, bureaucrats and friends. They had bumpy childhoods and now stand by and watch their own ADHD children be criticised because the can’t pay attention in Victorian classes, delivered by dull teachers reading from prescriptive notes.

So much unnecessary pain for so many people, simply for being different and not behaving or thinking as “normal” people behave and think. Being ADHD can feel like being in a persecuted minority, yet the persecutors don’t realise that’s what they are doing because we are not seen as a minority but a single person with a problem – a “disorder”.

With better awareness comes understanding, adjustment, change and acceptance. It’s not about medicating everyone. For some Ritalin helps, but there is a far greater need for a positive ADHD label – to let people know they are ADHD, to pursue an agenda of awareness and societal change too.

Ignorance is pain, not bliss

Despite all this suffering, many people in positions of authority, deny and refute, disparage or ignore the existence of ADHD. With over 20,000 scientific reports on ADHD, consensus statements from leading medical specialists, overwhelming genetic evidence and brain scans

Denial of ADHD is based on self-interest, or prejudice, and ignorance but not on science.

People with positions of authority: doctors, presenters, journalists, specialists and politicians put hurdles in place of those with ADHD for reasons of ignorance, prejudice, arrogance, and politics. The issues involved with the use stimulant medications unfortunately complicate matters and ADHD becomes a discussion about medicating children, not about awareness and education.

Labels help more than hinder

Some professionals believe they are helping the child by avoiding giving them a label. This is not help, this is damage. The label of ADHD brings many positive things. Books to be read, support groups to visit, advice to be taken, coaches to engage. As self-awareness and understanding and acceptance grows, so wellbeing improves. I have never met an adult they did not welcome their label of ADHD and regret that it was not received earlier in life. With the label of ADHD, you can know your tribe, how people like you think and act, how to be more effective given your distinct neurology.

The greatest help you can give someone with ADHD is to let them know they are ADHD

ADHD Coach, Andrew Lewis

Andrew Lewis

Andrew Lewis is an ADHD Coach, writer and founder of SimplyWellbeing. He has over 15,000 hours and 18 years of experience in coaching over 500 ADHD executives, ADHD business professionals and ADHD creatives. Andrew ran a major ADHD support group and an ADHD diagnostic clinic for a while. He is an ADHD specialist backed with business expertise from a twenty years career in software, from roles in programming, through marketing, sales and to running a few software start-ups. His ADHD insight is personal, with decades understanding his own ADHD experience and in bringing up his ADHD daughter. He has published his writing primarily via this website, with interactive ADHD courses in development.


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