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ADHD Awareness Week

VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – All this week the News1130 Evening Show is marking ADHD Awareness Week with a series of interviews with experts in the condition, such as people who help support and coach those with it, and people who have ADHD themselves.

We wrap up our series with Dr. Margaret Weiss, a clinical professor of psychiatry at UBC and author who’s one of the pre-eminent experts on the condition.

What is ADHD?

By definition it’s a condition that is considered to be a developmental and neurobiological disorder. Genetic and neurological differences lead to hyperactivity. Not just motor-functions but talking too much, feeling restless inside, always being on the go, difficulty focusing and attention and finally, impulsivity. These are often people who are stimulus seeking and will try anything before realizing the consequences.

Is this something you’re born with or can you develop it as an adult?

We like to say it’s a common final pathway because it’s 80 per cent genetic. If you’re an adult with ADHD, the chances of each child having ADHD is 57 per cent. Same for children that come to the clinic. Many of their parents will have ADHD. In that case, yes, you are born with it. I’ve had mothers who’ve said their fetuses were different and so active that they’ve fractured a rib. On the other hand, anything that damages the brain will lead to difficulty with attention which is probably the most sophisticated part of our thinking function –  lead exposure, a traumatic brain injury, fetal alcohol syndrome will all affect and present in a similar way. We’re all paying a huge amount for this disorder but we could be paying upfront and preventing ADHD.

How has ADHD awareness increased?

There is now a recognition all over the world. This was sponsored by the World Health Organization but there’s now a strong world federation of ADHD. The emergence of awareness among families that deserves the same kind of funding, donations and services as diabetes and cancer. Just like depression and anxiety, this is not a disorder of laziness and boredom or a lack of morality, this is something we can treat.

The Weiss Clinic for ADHD Care is in West Vancouver, call 604-281-1219.