Book review: “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Adult ADHD”
Posted Jul 18 2010 12:10am
By Eileen Bailey and Donald Haupt, M.D.
Review by Scott Keith
Many people think Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder strikes children only. We can only imagine the discomfort a child in elementary school faces, as he or she fidgets and squirms, trying to absorb every last fact and figure.
Yet numbers from the World Health Organization reveal that about 4.5 percent of adults throughout the world suffer from ADHD. A psychiatrist who has first-hand experience with the disorder, Dr. Donald Haupt, has co-written a book explaining that ADHD symptoms often stretch into adulthood. The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Adult ADHD, by Haupt and Eileen Bailey, provides the layperson with a thorough overview of ADHD, including characteristics, myths, related conditions and treatment options.
In an interview with Men and Health: It’s a Guy Thing, Haupt says he was diagnosed with the condition about 16 years ago, adding that when he was going to residency, about 35 years ago, the terms adult ADD andADHD weren’t known. At the time it was called “minimal brain dysfunction.” Describing himself, Haupt says, “I am certainly fidgety, I was a classic pacer on the telephone as a kid. My family used to joke that I would wear a groove in the floor as I walked back and forth (on the kitchen phone). My grandmother called me intense.”
There was a time when the condition was not well know. According to Haupt, “When we were growing up, even the best-informed parents hadn’t heard much about minimal brain dysfunction, or ADD. If they heard about it, they thought of kids who were tearing the classroom apart.” Some of these parents, says Haupt, may have responded by suggesting the child “buckle down” or study harder.
The book describes three main types of ADHD: The hyperactive/impulsive type is characterized by, among other things, fidgeting, trouble sitting still, constant movement and excessive talking. The Inattentive type describes a person who can be careless and disorganized. According to the book, If you have at least six symptoms of both the hyperactivity/impulsiveness type and the inattention type, you would be diagnosed with ADHD, combined type.
Chapter two knocks down myths surrounding the disorder. Among them, ADHD is not a “real” disorder. Bailey and Haupt write, With judgements based on emotion and no scientific data, critics will accuse people with ADHD of simply wanting to sweep poor behavior under the carpet instead of taking responsibility. Or some may rant about how the psychiatrists and pharmaceutical companies got together and made up a diagnosis in order to increase profits.
ADHD can exist with other debilitating conditions, such as depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder. As explained in chapter three, Many mental-health conditions can coexist with, or be caused or complicated by, ADHD.
If medical intervention is needed, part two of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to ADHD provides a number of treatment options. According to the book, Stimulant medications have been used effectively to treat ADHD for many years. Surprisingly, even though they are stimulants, they work to decrease hyperactivity and impulsiveness and help to increase attention and executive functioning. A treatment could involve therapy. According to Haupt and Bailey, Many different health professionals may be involved in your treatment. It is important to understand what each medical professional can do and the role each may play in your treatment. The two explain the importance of psychiatrists, psychologists, therapists, counselors, psychopharmacologists, family doctors, nurse practitioners and social workers. The book explores alternative and complementary treatments.
Throughout the book, you discover how ADHD can affect your college years, love life and career.
If you’re a fan of “Complete Idiot’s Guide” books, you’ll enjoy this multi-pronged introduction to a condition that’s often misunderstood. Perhaps this book will ease your guilt if you had ADHD symptoms that continued into adulthood.
Softcover, 315 pages, Alpha Books. Available at Amazon.com. Contact your local book store for book availability.