THE first national multi-disciplinary service dedicated to adults with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) has opened in Dublin.
The Dean Clinic on Capel Street estimates there may be up to 120,000 adults in the country with undiagnosed ADHD.
According to the service co-coordinated by Dr Jessica Bramham, this figure is based on the US prevalence rate which is estimated to be up to 4% of the population.
Dr Bramham, a specialist clinical neuropsychologist, who previously co-ordinated Britain’s National ADHD Service in London, said at its very lowest the figure would be 30,000.
“Many people’s understanding of ADHD relates to misbehaviour, however, there is a biological basis for this, the control functions in the brain are not operating properly,” she said.
“Medication is not the only treatment option for adult ADHD and in some cases non-pharmaceutical interventions are more appropriate,” she said.
Until recently, ADHD was viewed as a childhood disorder and the symptoms were thought to disappear during adolescence and adulthood.
However, studies that have looked at the long-term outcome of childhood ADHD, suggest the disorder does persist into adulthood.
Dr Bramham said an initiative running at Trinity College was looking at non- pharmacological interventions and their outcomes, and that researchers were currently looking for participants in the project.
Funded by the Health Research Board, it will evaluate whether attention can be improved through training people in attention skills which will be practiced at home on computers and tested by setting goals.
Dr Bramham said the programme runs for five weeks and researchers are looking to treat 64 people.
Anyone interested in participating in the project should call 01-896 8405.
However, consultant psychiatrist Dr Pat Bracken said it was important to point out that ADHD is a controversial and disputed concept.
Dr Bracken also questioned the figures presented by the new service.
“Are they saying that adult psychiatrists are misdiagnosing patients who are coming to services already? If so, they would need to present evidence of this. Or if they are saying that these patients are unwell but do not attend services, where is the evidence for this.”
Dr Bracken said assertions about ADHD being simply a “biological disorder” do not stand up to scrutiny.
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