I've heard about adult ADHD before, never really took much notice as I honestly thought that grown-ups wouldn't be taken in by such mumbo-jumbo. I didn't even know [my naivety] that adult ADHD was being promoted here in New Zealand - kind of makes sense that it is though seeing as the NZ government tackle everyday emotions with drugs. Quit smoking - try Champix - Depressed - Try an SSRi.
Adult ADHD is, it has to be said, one of the more ridiculous mental disorders to hit the streets and make the pharmaceutical industry even richer.
Yesterday, whilst sitting in the waiting room of a doctor's surgery, I was thumb twiddling, bored out of my mind as the only magazines available to read were trashy gossip types, you know the kind, the close-up paparazzi shots of actresses in their mid thirties who [shock-horror] have rings under their eyes or a crease or two on their thighs.
Not one for reading about rings and creases I turned my attention to the array of brochures lining the waiting room wall. Two in particular caught my attention, one was a quit smoking brochure, the other 'Adult ADHD'.
The quit smoking brochure was basically promoting Champix, the smoking cessation drug that can make you want to kill yourself. I've highlighted the whole Champix promotion here in New Zealand in a previous post [see - Sometimes the New Zealand Government Get It Wrong]
In this post I will focus on the second brochure I picked up yesterday. [See Fig 1 and 2]
I was giggling to myself whilst reading the 'science' or lack of. There's even a test adults can take to seek help from their doctor if they score 4 or more out of the 6 questions provided.
I took the test, hey I had nothing better to do and I found it more entertaining than reading about creases and rings on the latest celebrity to be dragged down from a pedestal she never wanted to be on in the first place.
I scored 4 and the brochure recommends that I make an appointment to see my doctor.
Yikes! I may have adult ADHD - How on earth did I get this mental disorder?
Well the brochure tells me, in no uncertain terms, that adult ADHD may be a result of my kids having ADHD?
Now, I'm confused? My kids don't have ADHD, although if they had taken any of the tests designed to make them have ADHD then I'm sure the brochure would have reeled me in.
Okay, so my kids don't have it, how come I do?
According to the brochure common symptoms of adult ADHD are:
Difficulty in relationships - Yup, myself and Maria do have our disagreements and, hey, I was divorced many years ago due to having difficulties in a relationship - They got me.
Difficulty in starting complex tasks and completing tasks - Um, does that include putting a shelf up or prepping a wall to be plastered? If so, they got me again.
Increased incidence of car accidents/traffic violations - well, I don't drive but I do cross the road without using pedestrian crossings - I think that's called Jaywalking in America - maybe it's now been deemed as a mental disorder? You laugh but almost everything else is so why not Jaywalking?
Lack of organisation - Oops, they got me again. I couldn't organise a drinks festival in a brewery!
Apparently, when compared with adults who don't have adult ADHD, I may have higher rates of anxiety, depression and substance use disorders. I'm doomed, doomed I tell ya.
Fear not, the brochure tells me some important news, a lovely big green box with bold white writing tells me, "While ADHD cannot be cured, medication and behaviour management strategies can help to control the symptoms associated with ADHD."
Oh yippie! I'm saved... saved I tell ya.
Okay, so how did I get this brain disorder? - I know it's a brain disorder because the brochure tells me so.
"ADHD is a brain disorder that can cause hyperactivity, impulsivity and difficulties paying attention"
Oh, someone just walked in the waiting room with a limp....
Dang it there goes my concentration.
The brochure continues with the science behind adult ADHD:
"It is estimated that 4% of adults in the US have ADHD" - Golly, must be something they put in the water, right? Anyway, I live in New Zealand and drink rain water [through a filter of course]
"If this rate of occurance is true for NZ", according to the brochure, "this means that approximately 86,000 adults between the ages of 18 and 50 years of age have ADHD."
Furthermore, the brochure tells me:
"ADHD is a highly heritable disorder, and approximately 20% of parents of children with ADHD have ADHD themselves."
The test is based around six questions, the answers range from never to very often. You can take the test yourself, just click on Fig 2.
I have to say the whole brochure kept me entertained and lifted my boredom whilst sitting for almost an hour in the waiting room - very uncomfortable on those hard plastic chairs that I found myself fidgeting a lot, ironically that's yet another symptom of ADHD.
The 6 question test that appeared in the brochure, called 'The Adult ADHD Self Report Scale Screener' [ASRS] is copyrighted to the World Health Organisation [WHO]
The information sourced in the brochure comes courtesy of Janssen Pharmaceuticals. Janssen manufacture and market Concerta [methylphenidate], a drug used for ADHD.
The brochure may fall into the hands of someone who actually believes the garbage written within it. How often do people get emails telling them they have won the Nigerian lottery? Many of us do, but many of us recognise that it's just a scam - sadly there's a small percentage sucked in and it's those that often part with money to release the lottery winnings from the Bank of Umberjaja.
This brochure was written in exactly the same way as those Nigerian email scams. They were designed to target the vulnerable, to make those vulnerable people believe that, a; they could have something and b; they just needed to part with some cash to get to that something.
That's pretty much how the pharmaceutical industry work - they plant the seed then offer the remedy. They offer no science but selective science. They'll gather 50 or so studies on ADHD, cherry pick all the bits that benefit them and bury the bits that would actually benefit the patient.
If written in the 1970's, early 80's this brochure would have made a great skit for the 'Not the Nine O'Clock News' team. Messrs Atkinson, Smith, Jones and Stephenson wouldn't have needed to work out a funny routine, the brochure is basically the screenplay.
I've used 'Not the Nine O'Clock News' as an example because the brochure reminds me so much of the 'Constable Savage' skit performed by Rowan Atkinson and Griff Rhys Jones. It's so ludicrously absurd that one has to laugh at the belief.
Constable Savage [Jones] likes to take the law into his own hands. This is frowned upon by his Sergeant [Atkinson]. It's not difficult to make comparisons here.
The comedic brochure, complete with The Adult ADHD Self Report Scale Screener, is below.