November 25, 2016

High-risk Behaviors Linked to Attention Deficit Disorder

By Bobby Kushner / November 25, 2016

GUELPH, ONT. – Feeling overwhelmed by ever-growing responsibilities at home, sudden changes at work and lack of sleep – Thomas Johnston destroyed everything in his home.

When police arrived at his residence, he looked at his wife.

“I want the police to kill me,” Johnston said before grabbing a replica gun, charging out the door and pointing it at police.

Thomas Johnston , 45, was arrested then taken to a psychiatric hospital in Guelph.

“When overwhelmed, I have sometimes reacted this way since a 12-year-old boy,” Johnston says.

A growing number of people, admitted to psychiatric hospitals for high-risk behaviors, are being diagnosed with attention deficit disorder (ADD) instead of schizophrenia or bipolar disorder.

“When someone’s not hearing voices, doesn’t have racing thoughts and isn’t awake for days – a more logical explanation for these behaviors is ADD,” Dr. Shuang Xu says, a psychiatrist at Homewood Health Centre. “especially if these individuals struggled with impulsive behaviors since childhood.”

According to information from the Canadian Mental Health Association, impulsive behaviors begin in childhood for ADD patients. But for schizophrenic and bipolar disorder patients, they begin in adulthood.

Dr. Xu explained, ADD is often difficult to diagnose in adults because most patients aren’t forthcoming about their struggle with impulsive behaviors during childhood.

“This is frequently why many adults with ADD are misdiagnosed as being bipolar or schizophrenic,” Dr. Xu says.

“Uncontrolled anger, mood shifts and other impulsive behaviors are also key traits in biopolar disorder and schizophrenia, not just ADD.”

Johnston is learning to cope with his disorder by attending dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) programs at Homewood Health Centre.

He is also prescribed Concerta, a stimulant used for treating ADD.

“An uncle of mine told me. I’ll live a hard life,” Johnston says. “if I continue destroying the things I’ve worked very hard to get when overwhelmed.”

Two therapy options for ADD individuals wanting to better manage stressful life events

Five medication options for ADD individuals lacking norepinephrine in the body

Nonstimulant Form

High-risk Behaviors Linked to Attention Deficit Disorder
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