Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder still a Stigma in India

Bangalore City Health National Top Story

Social blame and lack of medical research have failed to recognise the disorder.

By Sharathkumar Nair

Bengaluru, March 21, 2019: Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder is a common neurodevelopment disorder most commonly diagnosed in children. But if left untreated during childhood, there is a high possibility of the child carrying the symptoms to adulthood. Men are more affected by ADHD than women.

Both adults and children can be affected and every individual displays unique symptoms of the disorder. The key to tackling this mental disease lies in acknowledging its existence and then seeking professional help. One of the major challenges in India is the social stain associated with acknowledging that they suffer from a mental disorder.

School kids quite often get neglected by their teacher or parent if they show symptoms of ADHD.  Difficulty in focusing, forgetful about completing tasks, and difficulty in staying organized are few of the symptoms shown by children.

Most of these kids get sometimes punished by their teachers for showing these symptoms and are forced to suppress their behaviour. Indian parents consider these symptoms shown by the child as lack of will to study.

Lack of awareness among parents and teachers leaves the kids to handle the disorder by themselves. These kids later on in their adult lives resort to addiction and substance abuse to handle their forgetfulness, inattention, and hyperactivity.

The fear of being tagged as mentally ill by society leads to many adults not seeking medical help in dealing with ADHD. If not treated in adulthood, it can severely affect everything from relationships to careers. Daydreaming, difficulty paying attention or focusing when reading or listening to others, having simultaneous thoughts that it is difficult to follow one, are few of the symptoms.

“I have been suffering from ADHD throughout my entire life. I never knew until recently when I stumbled upon this disorder while surfing the internet. My parents were never aware of ADHD while I was growing up. They always blamed my lack of will for my underperforming in academics during school and college. If I had got help, I might have performed better during my school and college days,” said Badri, an IT professional from Bangalore, who has switched to yoga and meditation to deal with his ADHD.

“Awareness is the only way we can fight ADHD. The society needs to change its outlook on patients suffering from ADHD. Western countries have recognized ADHD as a disorder long ago. We still have a lot of catching up to do in terms of research and social recognition”, said Dr Vishnu Varadhan, Head of Psychology at RajRajeshwari Medical College in Kengeri.

“In India, there is not enough study done on ADHD. More medical institutes and doctors should come forward to create awareness in the society about ADHD,” he added.