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How can this pandemic trigger an ADHD brain?

The world we currently live in has become an extraordinary and turbulent place with social distancing, shelter-in-place orders, restaurants, and shopping malls closures. Coronavirus transformed everything we thought we knew about our daily lives, government, and health into a bizarre world where FaceTime dating and panic-buying toilet tissue are the new norms. It’s taking a toll on even the foremost optimistic people as we attempt to stay positive amidst what seems like bleaker and bleaker news every day. It’s hard to imagine how this already unsettling situation feels for over 45 million Americans with mental disorders.

People affected by anxiety, depression, PTSD, drug abuse, and other types of chronic mental disorders are immediately vulnerable in terms of loneliness, isolation, and the potential for self-destructive behavior, attributed to a scarcity of consistent support and a disrupted routine.

In an attempt to assist those with a mental disorder, we analyzed the precise challenges people with the common mental and physical health conditions face and what actions they can practice and networks they will access to stay healthy and safe.

What do we know about COVID-19?

There are still several questions and misconceptions surrounding coronavirus that has so severely disrupted with just about every aspect of our day-to-day activities. Before we dive into the precise toll it’s taking over people with ADHD, here are a couple of crucial facts we all know about the coronavirus pandemic.

Coronavirus or SARS-CoV-2 (and the illness it causes, COVID-19) is a new virus that scientists believe started in December 2019 within the Wuhan province of China spread to each continent, but Antarctica. As of now, there are over 5.22 million cases, and over 338,000 deaths reported globally. In the US, those numbers are over 1.64 million and 96,370, respectively—and increasing daily.

Coronavirus presents as an upper respiratory disease with symptoms almost like pneumonia. You can exhibit the symptoms anywhere from two to 14 days after exposure. It’s a high contagion that will be spread from person to person through respiratory droplets that are released within the air when someone infects coughs or sneezes, and possibly by touching a surface or object with the virus thereon then touching your mouth, nose, or eyes. However, the CDC doesn’t consider that the last one may be a primary way the virus is transmitted.

In most people, —80 percent, consistent with a WHO report on China’s cases—the symptoms are mild. However, the danger for severe infection is more significant in those over 65 and people who are immunosuppressed or with pre-existing physical health conditions like a heart condition, lung disease, cancer, diabetes, and smokers.

While the virus itself could also be mild for many, the priority is that the spread of it’ll overwhelm our hospitals and healthcare providers, leaving doctors and medical staff to limit life-saving resources. Because the supply of tests for the virus within the US is insufficient, to place it mildly, several people are being advised to self-quarantine if they show the three main symptoms:

  • Fever

  • Cough

  • Shortness of breath

They’re also advised to avoid getting to hospitals and urgent care facilities unless their symptoms become severe. A replacement test has been launched and approved by the FDA to give results within a couple of hours. The new test is now used in hospital labs across the US to check for coronavirus cases.

ADHD and Addiction

ADHD can harm academic or work performance and should hinder social development. Many people who have ADHD address drug abuse as how to combat these effects. People with ADHD could also be inclined to abuse drugs or alcohol to make up for the shortage of dopamine in their brains, as they need lower levels of the chemical than people that don’t have ADHD.

Treating ADHD and drug abuse are often challenging because the medications don’t always treat ADHD, and drugs can also become a habit. Stimulants, including Ritalin and Adderall, are often effective at managing symptoms, but they have a high potential for abuse. During treatment, it’s imperative to watch both issues at an equivalent time.

ADHD Symptoms and Effects

The development of ADHD symptoms varies from person to person, as some will exhibit symptoms that others lack supported the sort of ADHD that’s present.

The core characteristics of this disorder fall under three categories:

  • Lack of ability to concentrate or focus

  • Hyperactive behavior or constant physical activity

  • Impulsive behavior

Within these three categories, various behavioral patterns meet the standards of ADHD:

  • Difficulty finishing tasks

  • Problems taking note of others

  • Struggles with organizing projects or responsibilities

  • Forgetfulness

  • Being easily distracted

  • Constant fidgeting

  • Inability to regulate speech or actions

  • Frequently losing or misplacing personal items.

People can feel chronically disorganized and misplace essential items needed to finish a task. Relationship problems can also develop, as individuals with ADHD are inclined to form offhanded remarks stupidly or fail to concentrate on others because they’re distracted. These frustrations in life can cause people with ADHD to indulge in substance abuse often as a means to escape and relax.

Addiction and ADHD Treatment

Addiction and ADHD are often treated simultaneously through a dual diagnosis program. It’s essential to treat both disorders directly because the cycle of frustration with ADHD can cause self-medication with alcohol or drugs. Counselling, group therapy, self-help groups, and holistic therapy are the core components of a successful recovery program for people with ADHD and addiction. A secure and supportive environment can be provided in addition to the treatment to boost healing while in recovery.

A dual diagnosis program focuses on:

  • Modifying destructive thoughts and behaviors that promote drug abuse

  • Building self-esteem and inspiring internal motivation

  • Controlling the symptoms of ADHD through behavioral modification and drugs therapy

  • Identifying drug abuse triggers and learning the way to manage impulses

  • Educating partners and relations about ADHD

It may allow people battling ADHD and addiction to measure a healthy, functional life without being hooked into any substance. If you or your beloved has ADHD and is fighting drug abuse, please contact a mental health professional for help.


Image Credits: Getty Images

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