What Is Attention Deficit Disorder | Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) are neurological conditions characterised by three primary symptoms:
- Decreased ability to pay attention and control focus on activities;
- Difficulty controlling one’s impulses; and frequently
- Increased motor activity.
What Is Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)?
ADD is part of a continuum. As with most disorders, there are severe, moderate and mild cases of ADD. Most of us fit on this continuum in that we all have qualities that are common to ADD, but normal forgetfulness, daydreaming and impulsive behaviour are not Attention Deficit Disorder.
The key is impairment. It’s not that people with ADD can never focus or pay attention. They just can’t select when to pay attention, what to pay attention to, and when to stop. While they often fall out of focus in class, at work, or in the middle of conversations, sometimes they get so hyperfocused on things that they forget to take a break.
One expert likens it to an out-of-adjustment autofocus camera that can’t quite focus on the current object because it is still focused on the previous one, it’s lens adjusting back and forth, back and forth, back and forth.
They can focus on easy tasks!
Tasks that are boring, routine, and uninteresting are especially difficult for people with ADD. They can focus readily on easy tasks such as watching TV and playing video games. But run the risk of becoming so intensely focused that they are almost unable to break away.
Besides their problems regulating focus and attention, people with ADD tend to be impulsive. They often dive into things they later regret. They blurt out answers before people finish asking a question. And they frequently engage in addictive behaviours such as substance abuse, overeating, compulsive shopping, and indiscreet or unwise sexual encounters.
When hyperactivity is present, people with ADHD often are described as if “driven by a motor.” Even when seated, they frequently squirm and shift in their chairs, swing their legs, or tap their fingers. They’re “always to be on the go,” and may seem at times to be frenetic. While all children are normally quite active. Activities of children with ADD appear to be less goal-directed.
Is it difficult to live with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)?
It’s difficult to live with ADD. You’re constantly losing things, showing up late, and forgetting appointments. Even though you may be highly intelligent. People may think of you as scatter-brained and clueless. Your behaviour impacts on your family relationships, your performance at work and at school, and your social life.
Repeated difficulties and failures in these arenas can lead to lower self esteem and even clinical depression. If untreated, ADD can shape your personality in ways that you don’t even realise. You may become shy or avoidant, angry or blameful, pessimistic or passive. And it’s not your fault.
ADD is a neurophysiologic genetic disorder that tends to run in families. It is not due to weak will, a character defect, bad parenting, or poor discipline. It’s a physical dysfunction that is treatable with medicines and other interventions.
Psychostimulant medications are extremely effective in most cases. “Waking up” the sluggish part of your brain that is causing most of the problems. But medication is only part of the picture. Most top experts recommend treatment combining medication. And psychotherapy that trains you to pay attention, control your impulses, and behave appropriately.
While ADD is a brain disorder, the picture isn’t all negative. People with ADD frequently have capabilities and talents that are lacking in others. Many are creative, productive, famously successful individuals. Beethoven, Mozart, and Einstein are all believed to have had ADD.