By Alexander Germanis
Most people are familiar with the popular arcade game known as pinball; the clangs and dings elicited by the machine are instantly recognizable. And although there are a tremendous variety of pinball games, the mechanics of them are usually the same: a steel ball is propelled into a glass-encased world and is knocked about for as long as possible.
Many people can relate to that chaotic world of the steel pinball. For some — the bouncing from activity to activity, being surrounded by distraction, moving to and fro with no seemingly controlled direction —the world of a pinball machine mimics their struggle with everyday behaviors.
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a medical condition that affects not just those who have it, but their families as well. However, there is an often knee-jerk reaction to automatically “label” any person who has difficulty sitting still, concentrating, or paying attention with ADHD. That is why Dr. Anjum Bashir of Decatur Psychiatry Ltd., firmly believes proper diagnosis is the vital first step toward helping someone who exhibits the symptoms of ADHD.
Making the right call
Most often diagnosed in childhood, ADHD is a neurobehavioral disorder that can make itself known in children as young as three. The symptoms often become more noticeable when children begin school. But ADHD can be very difficult to diagnose due to the fact that there are many different symptoms — some of them quite subtle — and not all of the symptoms will be shown by a single individual. Furthermore, children mature at different rates and have different personalities, temperaments, and energy levels. Sometimes, these normal factors may be mistaken for ADHD. A child may go undiagnosed completely or — just as dangerous — be misdiagnosed.
Before you say, “My child does all those things,” physicians and psychiatrists like Dr. Bashir want to make it clear that most children will exhibit some or all of these symptoms at some point. It is perfectly normal for a child to be energetic beyond what their parents can seemingly handle. These behaviors are more severe and occur more often in children with ADHD.
It is important to have a child evaluated by a medical professional before jumping to the wrong conclusion.
ADHD Quotient Test
Few parents want their child to have any kind of disorder, so making certain there is a problem before trying to treat it is crucial. ADHD is traditionally diagnosed by gathering information about the child and his or her behavior and environment. The problem with this method of diagnosis is that it is very subjective. Fortunately, a test has been developed to determine whether or not a child has the disorder. Explained by Dr. Bashir, “the Quotient® ADHD System measures motion and analyzes shifts in attention state to give an objective picture of the core symptom areas of ADHD. We use this to assess severity of hyperactivity, inattention, and impulsivity.”
In about 15 minutes, the FDA-approved test objectively measures the child’s movements while they attempt to focus on altering stimuli. For example, for younger children, an eight-pointed star may appear on the screen in front of them. They are instructed to press the space bar whenever it appears but do nothing if a five-pointed star appears. The child wears a headband with an infra-red reflector on it — allowing the system to measure the movement of the child’s head during the duration of the test.
The data is securely uploaded to the Quotient server and compared to various tested groups. The resulting report helps Dr. Bashir guide the next steps to be taken.
Not just for boys
The terms ADD and ADHD are often used interchangeably, but the difference is that ADD does not include the hyperactivity component. Though the pinball behavior of ADHD is most often associated with male children, it is vital to point out they are most certainly not the only ones affected by the disorder. Girls can also suffer from the condition, but they may go undiagnosed because they often do not display the symptoms in the same way as their male counterparts.
Girls may not exhibit hyperactivity as often but may still have difficulty focusing or paying attention. Their grades may not always be an indicator, either — by subconsciously compensating for the disorder, girls may often still perform well in school, further masking the fact they struggle with ADHD. To complicate things, studies show girls with ADHD are at higher risk than boys to develop anxiety and depression.
Adults are another demographic that are often overlooked when it comes to diagnosis. They may have ADHD and not know it because they were never diagnosed as a child. They may find it impossible to get organized, manage their time, stick to a job, or remember and keep appointments and deadlines. Daily tasks such as getting up in the morning, preparing to leave the house for work, arriving at work on time and being productive on the job can be especially challenging. Life often seems chaotic and out of control. Oftentimes, they have muddled through for so long, they attribute their problems to stress or increased responsibilities when, instead, they may be exhibiting symptoms of undiagnosed ADHD.
For those adults who do question this possibility, Dr. Bashir can apply the Quotient system as well. While the test takes about five minutes longer for adolescents and adults than for children, it is, nevertheless, just as effective. For many adults, a diagnosis of ADD/ADHD can bring a sense of relief. Adults who have had the disorder since childhood, but who have not been diagnosed, have likely developed negative feelings about themselves over the years. Receiving the correct diagnosis allows them to understand the reasons for their problems, which is helpful in taking steps to control many of the symptoms.
Disorder to depression
Those who suffer from ADHD usually do not have ADHD as their only struggle. While some children outgrow the symptoms of ADHD, over half continue to exhibit symptoms throughout their lives. It is estimated that half of adults who have ADD/ADHD also have at least one other diagnosable mental health condition, such as depression or anxiety. Depression is a common partner of ADHD.
Depression is a serious, often complex medical illness, and, like ADHD, it can be difficult to properly diagnose. There are many different symptoms, no known cause, and people exhibit symptoms in many different ways. For adults, the undiagnosed ADHD may be a contributing factor in their depression. Because depression can be life threatening, it becomes all the more important to properly diagnose and treat both conditions. While there is no “cure” for either ADHD or depression, treatment can eliminate or control many of the symptoms so that adults and children alike can deal with their problems more effectively.
Many adults and parents of children with ADHD shy away from treatments, often because medication is usually part of a comprehensive plan of therapy. Dr. Bashir stresses that there are many different treatment options, and it is possible to achieve excellent improvement without medication. The Quotient Test is not an end-all, be-all of the child’s assessment. Periodic re-assessment and closely monitoring progress is highly recommended. In most cases, ADHD is best treated with a combination of medication and behavior therapy.
For adults who have been diagnosed with major depression and have not seen improvement with medication and therapy, there is an alternative. Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) is an FDA-approved, non-invasive, prescription-based therapy for depression. Much like an MRI, TMS uses precisely targeted magnetic pulses to stimulate the areas of the brain that are less active in people with depression. Dr. Bashir is one of the few physicians that have the TMS technology and are trained and qualified to deliver TMS therapy. It is a safe, effective therapy, free of side-effects and covered by most insurance companies.
The importance of getting the proper diagnosis for any medical condition cannot be emphasized enough. For children experiencing symptoms of ADHD, it is crucial for parents to take the necessary steps to help them succeed in school and life. Proper diagnosis is equally important for adults who are having any sort of mental problems. “We are fortunate to have access to technologies such as the Quotient test for ADHD and TMS therapy for depression,” Dr. Bashir says, “to help people escape from that chaotic world and an experience a happy, healthy life.”
For more information, contact Anjum Bashir, MD at 217-422-0027. He is one of the few physicians in Central Illinois offering TMS Therapy for Depression and Quotient Testing for ADD/ADHD. His office is located at 1900 E. Lake Shore Drive, Decatur, 62521.
TMS therapy is covered by many insurance companies including BCBS.
Signs and Symptoms of ADHD in Children
- Have trouble staying focused in tasks or play
- Appear not to listen, even when spoken to directly
- Have difficulty following through on instructions
- Have trouble organizing tasks and activities
- Lose items needed for tasks or activities
- Be easily distracted
- Fidget with both hands or feet
- Have difficulty staying seated in the classroom or in other situations
- Be on the go, in constant motion
- Run around or climb in situations when it’s not appropriate
- Have trouble playing or doing an activity quietly
- Talk too much or blurt out answers
- Have difficulty waiting for his or her turn
- Interrupt or intrude on others’ conversations or activities
Signs and Symptoms of ADHD in Adults
Symptoms for adults are usually less obvious than symptoms in children.
Source: Web MD
Back to Top
- Trouble being organized
- Reckless driving and/or traffic accidents
- Marital difficulties
- Extremely distractible
- Poor listening skills
- Trouble starting a task
- Trouble being on time
- Difficulty prioritizing tasks