A very long running study, 33 years and still going, has been looking at various aspects of how ADHD affects people across life. A new paper in Pediatrics (out now on-line and in the June paper edition) has found that children with ADHD in childhood are twice as likely to be obese as the non ADHD population in later life, even if the ADHD appears to be in remission.
It is a very solid study since it has been going for so long so can be sure of accurate records (some studies rely on people’s memories which is okay as far as it goes, but aren’t nearly as reliable as having contemporary records). One point to note is that, even in a very long running study, because two things correlate, here ADHD and obesity, cause and effect is not necessarily proven. Cause has to precede effect, so obesity in middle age can’t have caused childhood ADHD, but the ADHD may not have caused the obesity, there may be a common cause. This is discussed in a very digestible form for the non-scientist in this article in the Scientific American.
However, whatever the cause, it is yet another burden for those afflicted. Obesity, in common with ADHD is a problem that is often regarded by the general public and even members of the medical profession as a moral failing in the sufferer rather than a medical problem to be treated.
To people with a long-standing knowledge of ADHD the study isn’t entirely surprising. One might think that people with ADHD in remission wouldn’t suffer the side effects, but ADHD used to be considered as ‘just’ hyperactivity and people simply slow down as they get older. The human dynamo nature of hyperactive children may drop off, but there is no reason to suppose the other aspects just go away on their own. Study after study has shown that people with ADHD fare worse in all sorts of measures compared to the general population.
Something to watch out for in discussions of the paper is that the study was only done on boys, so when a headline says that ADHD is linked to obesity in men, it is pretty likely that it is linked to obesity in women too, just that the study only followed boys. 33 years ago ADHD and its various forms was barely recognised in girls (and even in boys it was fairly new and was considered to be mainly hyperactivity).
A very interesting paper in The Harvard Review of Psychiatry looks at the effect methylphenidate has on the brain. This is a link to the original article (the abstract is free).
There is a more layman friendly description in ScienceDaily. (And before anyone writes in, yes, we are aware that the word ‘normalises’ is spelled differently on either side of the Atlantic.)
On line course on ADHD:
Reviews, thoughts, or details of other courses gratefully received.
“ADHD Persists in Adulthood, Ups Mental Illness, Suicide Risk”
Here is an interesting approach to non-drug therapy for adult ADHD. There is an associated book which we’ll review if/when we get a review copy (the list price is over £17 so unless you are very flush we wouldn’t recommend buying without the recommendation of someone who has read it or having had a good look at it yourself).
Here is the book (but read the blog first – it is free!)
We’ll let the organisers of the Cambridge Science Festival speak for themselves:
Re: Cambridge Science Festival promotion
I am writing in the hope of promoting the 2013 Cambridge Science Festival on your website’s event page.
The Festival takes place 11 – 24 March 2013, and bookings for events are now open.
Please see below for information on our talk that may be of particular interest to you:
5.30pm – 7pm, 14 March
Focusing on ADHD
Babbage Lecture Theatre, New Museums Site,
Supported by The Wellcome Trust and the
British Association of Psychopharmacology
Poor concentration, hyperactivity and impulsivity
are common in people with ADHD. These
symptoms may be distressing and cause difficulties
in daily life, but what causes them? How can they
best be treated? This Brain Awareness Week
discussion panel includes Professor Barbara Sahakian,
Dr Ulrich Müller and Dr Sam Chamberlain.
Event: 27, Map: 4, Talk, Ages 14+, Pre book*
With over two hundred events for all ages, the Festival aims to give everyone the opportunity to discover, question and take part in scientific activity at the University of Cambridge and partner organisations. Over the two week period, guests will be able to explore research that is leading the world at events that discuss science and its place in our lives – covering subjects from astronomy to zoology, with hands-on experiments and talks from leading researchers and celebrities.
Highlights this year include: Professor John Gurdon, winner of the 2012 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine; science comedian Robin Ince; author Simon Mayo; and up-and-coming BBC Science presenter Helen Czerski. We’re also delighted to welcome Benedict Cumberbatch as our Guest Director, whose note on the festival and its importance can be found in the programme and on our website.
Our family open days are on 16, 17 and 23 March, and there are hundreds of activities running throughout the entire Festival fortnight. With so much going on, there really is something for everyone and we hope you really enjoy it: we invite you to challenge your mind, try something new and join us on a journey of discovery and excitement.
Here are some details of a group that has just started on the Isle of Wight:
The regular central London meeting meets on the first Tuesday of the month. This means that the next one will be on January the First 2013. We still plan to hold the meeting, same time, same place, so please feel free to come along. More details here.
New(ish) article on WebMD:
“Dec. 10 2012 — Teens diagnosed with ADHD are likely to have an array of issues as adults, including problems with physical and mental health, work, and finances, according to new research.”
A very interesting piece of research the ADHD skeptics should be aware of (although we would like to point out that the vast majority of people with ADHD are not and have never been involved in crime!): http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-20414822
A very interesting study from the Wellcome Trust counteracts some of the negative things the anti-ADHD brigade comes out with. Excerpt below, click link for full article:
15 October 2012
Children living with ADHD tend to feel they benefit from medication to treat the condition and do not think the medication turns them into ‘robots’, according to a report published today. In fact, they report that medication helps them to control their behaviour and make better decisions. The study, which gives a voice to the children themselves, provides valuable insights into their experiences and the stigma they face.
The ADHD VOICES – Voices on Identity, Childhood, Ethics and Stimulants – study has worked with 151 families in the UK and the USA to examine ethical and societal issues surrounding attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), particularly the use of treatments such as methylphenidate (Ritalin). The project has been led by biomedical ethicist Dr Ilina Singh from King’s College London and was funded by the Wellcome Trust. Full article here.
This study, from a reputable source, suggests one factor in causing ADHD may be mercury poisoning in the womb, which can be caused by eating too much of certain types of fish.
Those of you who know Professor Nutt may like to listen to this recent BBC programme:
It’s a condition normally associated with children. But what’s it like to be an adult sufferer of ADHD? Francesca Townsend, 29, from Brighton explains…
‘For most people, the weekly supermarket shop is a tedious, but uneventful, part of their week. For me, it’s a moment I dread. I’ll be halfway round the store when my heart starts racing, the bright lights overwhelm me and the neatly packed shelves with all that choice fill me with panic.
Procrastination is more or less a way of life to people with ADHD, especially those with the inattentive sort, so this programme may be of interest (but we’d be surprised if they mention ADHD – let’s see)…
We had a recent enquiry as to whether medication for ADHD has an effect on heart rate and blood pressure. Intuitively one would think that the stimulant medications, at least, would raise them, and many people are of this opinion, however the research does not always support this idea.
Here is a paper on the subject by researchers at St Mary’s Hospital, London, that suggests there is harldy any effect at all:
You may like this video:
There have been reports of healthcare being rationed in various media. We note, however that the Government has said this is wrong.
From today’s news:
Health minister Simon Burns described such practices as “unacceptable”.
“If local health bodies stop patients from having treatments on the basis of cost alone, we will take action against them.”
Full story here:
The article has a space for readers to write in their own experiences. Please could anyone with ADHD (or suspected ADHD) who has had difficulty or specifically is now having trouble getting a referral write in. It could make a huge difference. No matter that the article doesn’t mention any mental health issues, they are equally valid when it comes to needing treatment and this needs to be said.
Do you ever need someone to e-mail you to remind you of something but have trouble finding someone reliable enough to do it at the right time, or at all?
A web service www.followupthen.com will do it for you. There are several ways to set up reminders, including by e-mail, and you can copy people in. Have a go and let us know what you think, or even let us know your own top tip.
ADHD in the news, but maybe not in the best way…
Our Bristol support group was featured on BBC Radio 4′s Inside Health, part of the ‘Medical Matters’ strand.
Probably nothing vintage students of ADHD won’t already know, but a good introduction to adult ADHD and very good for getting the word out.
And you should be able to find the podcast version here (useful if you want to listen on MP3 player or to keep on your computer and it might be better for people outside the UK.)
Now, does anyone know who we need ot speak to at the BBC to put a link to us on their relevant page?
The situation in Scotland has been difficult. Provision of services for adults has been poor to non-existent (although that sums up the situation for most of the UK with one or two notable and welcome exceptions) and, to make matters worse, the NHS guidelines for treating ADHD in Scotland only cover children!
So we are delighted to have received this letter:
I am an occupational therapist working in a small project team in Edinburgh. We are hoping to establish an Adult ADHD Team within Lothian the first of its kind in Scotland and would like some service user feedback. We are tasked with looking at patient pathways, training of staff/general public, developing treatment resources and developing a shared protocol for medication. We believe that user involvement is vital and hope to get some information via the questionnaire attached. We would value it if you could circulate this to adults with ADHD that you may be in contact via your organisation. We have a tight time line for the project with the service to be up and running by May. We would therefore require feedback by no later than the end of April. If you would prefer to contact me by phone you are most welcome. We look forward to your responses.Catriona DillinghamCatriona.Dillingham@nhslothian.scot.nhs.ukSenior Occupational TherapistNorth West Primary Care Liaison TeamBase : Craigroyston Health Clinic1B Pennywell RoadEdinburghEH4 4PHTel: 0131 315 2026Fax: 0131 343 2416
Service User Questionnaire
1) How old were you when diagnosed with ADHD?
2) How would you describe the impact of having ADHD as an adult on daily life? And which parts of daily living are most affected? Eg managing money, organising the house, socializing, working, building relationships etc?
3) What is your diagnosis ‘journey’?
4) What difference do you think it has made having that diagnosis both positively and negatively?
5) We are putting together training for a wide range of health professionals about Adult ADHD what specifically do you feel it would be useful for them to know?
5) We are developing an awareness raising campaign for public, so what you think would be effective here?
6) What are your experiences of taking medication?
7) Have you wanted to take medication as an adult?
8) What supports have been useful to you through your diagnosis/ experience?
9) What self-help materials or information has been useful? (feel free to send copies!)
10) What coping strategies have you employed during your time with this condition? What has helped, and what would you suggest to avoid?
Thank you for your feedback
There is an article in Psychology Today about adult ADHD. It doesn’t really tell any of us with it anything we don’t already know, saying the problems that come with ADHD are usually: self/time management, self organising and problem solving, self-discipline (because we’re all moral retards right?!), self-motivation, self-activation and concentration.
We have to applaud the article though, because it is in a pretty mainstream publication and so helps get teh word out to the millions and millions of people who either haven’t heard about adult ADHD or just refuse to accept there is such a thing.
ADHD gets a mention in New Scientist again this week, along with schizophrenia, autism, depression and a few other disorders. The article is here, but you may need a subscription (so pop out to a good bookshop and read it there before you decide to buy).
Here’s the bit that mentions ADHD:
Such adaptability would have been crucial in the past 50,000 years as our ancestors migrated around the world, and it turns out that the gene responsible for SERT is among many that evolved rapidly during this period (see The 10,000 Year Explosion by Henry Harpending and Gregory Cochran, Basic Books, 2009). The genetic analysis that revealed this dramatic acceleration in human evolution also exposed the rise of another gene variant linked with mental disorder – this time one that helps regulate dopamine, the neurotransmitter associated with pleasure and reward. Harpending and colleagues found that a particular variant of the gene that codes for the D4 dopamine receptor has increased very rapidly in frequency in humans. People with this variant, known as DRD4-7R, tend to have very high energy levels and an increased risk of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Yet the prevalence of the variant among certain groups – it is found in 80 per cent of lowland Amazonian Indians, for example – indicates that extra energy has its advantages. “Previously these traits have been highly regarded in some societies,” says Lesch.
“We see a higher percentage of ADHD-associated traits in migratory people, for example.” Like the SERT gene, DRD4-7R can be both a boon and a bane. Some researchers describe such genes as “orchid genes”: nurture them and the carrier thrives, neglect them and a maladaptive personality trait appears. If Spikins is correct, many other genes associated with developmental conditions and mental illness should possess such Jekyll-and-Hyde characteristics. Our ancestors may have benefited from this, but modern societies tend instead to view different minds as a major impediment. “Nowadays, being ‘mad’ is bad,” says Whitley. “In the west, we continue to pathologise difference, and lose its potential adaptive advantage.”
The thrust of the article is that when we were hunter-gatherers spreading out across the world, the characteristics that help be so adaptable and restless were helpful, but in the modern world a lot aren’t, and are now seen as mental illness or developmental disorders. It is an idea put forward by New Scientist before and one we can’t disagree with. Knowing quite what to do about it isn’t quite so easy.
We’ve just had a message from the group in The Wirral:
Hello every one this is Gary Sendall the founder of the Wirral support group I messed up earlier this year and lost my fone for the group witch ment we had to get a new number the new number is as follows 077548 54283 you can also contact via email if you wish to speek to a female member leeders aswell thare emails are email@example.com
The Waaddsup@hotmail.com is being used aswell
A representative of AADD UK was on BBC Radio 2 this afternoon, albeit rather briefly. It was to take part in a discussion about the Motability Scheme and whether or not people with ADHD get free cars and was set off by a couple of particularly disingenuous articles in the Daily Mail, one of which is referred to in the post below.
We got the call rather late, so only made a brief appearance, but hopefully it was a significant one. If you’d like to listen iplayer has it for seven days from the date this is posted. A summary of the show is here and it is on iplayer here. Be warned, it is a really long programme (two hours) and we only appear for a few seconds about 46 minutes in, and you may find one or two of the comments on before a bit annoying.
A website (www.fullfact.org) gives a detailed analysis of the fact-bending that went on to get to the manufactured outrage the Mail’s editor was looking for so we won’t go into detail, but we’ll just make a few points.
It seems that ADHD is being used, once again, as an easy target for ‘journalists’ who don’t seem able to make the effort find any real news.