Mental health disorders

Depression, bipolar illness, schizophrenia and other psychoses, dementia, and developmental diseases such as autism are examples of mental disorders. Mental diseases, such as depression, can be prevented with the use of efficient strategies.

The "moral diagnosis" of ADHD, according to Ned Hallowell, is the belief that symptoms of ADHD, such as difficulty completing tasks or sitting still, are actually moral flaws. "If Johnny would only try harder... he has so much untapped potential..." is a common phrase heard by persons with ADHD as children, meaning that, unlike you and me, Johnny is unconcerned about whether he succeeds or fails. Or perhaps he's just plain lazy. Alternatively, you could be self-centered. When people didn't know as much about ADHD as we do now—that it is physiologically based and not a question of willpower—the "moral diagnosis" was what they relied on.

Despite this, the notion that a person with ADHD is simply indolent persists. This does not appropriately recognize the tremendous amount of effort they frequently put out. Even though adolescents appear "lazy" because they have problems finishing (and often even starting!) things, young minds are working hard to arrange a boatload of undifferentiated information in their brains. However, fMRI study conducted with ADHD youngsters confirms that "lazy" is simply an ADHD myth. Biologist Tudor Puiu claimed in a presentation to the Society for Neuroscience that in children with ADHD, a critical mental control area of the brain (the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex) works significantly harder and, maybe, less efficiently than in children without ADHD. "These networks have been shattered. The ADHD brain is forced to work harder than the average brain "he stated

Adults with ADHD can tell you that they are working extremely hard to get mentally organized—expending a great deal of energy in the process—yet are frustrated that they are constantly being told that they aren't working hard enough by important people (teachers when they were younger, parents, spouses, and friends). This conflates hard labor with results, which can be difficult for people with ADHD to distinguish. "Having the Library of Congress in your head, but no card catalogue," one person I know characterized what it's like to have ADHD. Consider how difficult it would be to get organized—it would be a Herculean undertaking! Dealing with this kind of mentality on a constant basis can leave you feeling helpless—like "I'm dancing as fast as I can, so don't ask any more of me." Sometimes that sentiment is expressed (often to the disbelief of a frustrated husband or parent, who asks, "Then why aren't you doing better if you're trying so hard?"). The sense of "dancing as quickly as I can" isn't often expressed, but it might lead to feelings of overload or immobility.

One reason why "trying harder" doesn't work as well with ADHD as "trying differently," i.e., in ways that work for persons with ADHD brains, is that the brain is already working extremely hard. Creating external mechanisms to facilitate action and decision-making is frequently part of "doing differently." Setting audible alarms, preparing master packing lists to help remember what you need, and utilizing written decision-making charts to keep the pieces of potential options structured while you contemplate them are just a few examples.

It's critical for non-ADHD spouses and parents to appreciate how much effort ADHD people put in. It can lead to increased empathy, among other things. In the best circumstances, this knowledge allows a non-ADHD partner or parent to shift from "chief critic" to "understanding advocate." (For example, knowing how long it takes to arrange that "Library of Congress" brain makes it a lot easier to justify asking for more time on examinations at school rather than telling your child he has to do it like everyone else.) It's also important to keep in mind that the extra work required to organize the ADHD brain should be factored into your expectations, especially when it comes to organizing duties. To put it another way, most people with ADHD won't perform tasks as quickly as their non-ADHD peers since it requires some extra processes inside the brain. Those steps aren't visible, yet they exist.

Of all, just because "my brain is already working incredibly hard" doesn't mean a person with ADHD shouldn't try to achieve challenging goals or make adjustments. To put it another way, it should not be used as an excuse to do nothing. Rather, it just reinforces the principle of "try differently, not harder." Develop "ADHD-friendly" behaviors, remember to schedule additional time, and seek out treatment that calms the mind and enhances focus. People with ADHD are not slackers. Please don't put that label on them.