Neurology

The Scary Connection Between ADD/ADHD and COVID-19


Does having ADD/ADHD put you at an increased risk of contracting COVID-19? If the ADD/ADHD is untreated, the answer is yes, according to a new study in the Journal of Attention Disorders. The research involving 14,022 people in Israel found that people with untreated ADD/ADHD are about 52% more likely to have tested positive for the coronavirus illness compared with individuals who don’t have ADD/ADHD.

The
researchers found, however, that in people with the attention-deficit disorder
who are being treated with stimulant medication, the infection rate for
COVID-19 is no higher than in those without ADD/ADHD. In these individuals, the
infection rate was about 10%.

WHO’S AT RISK?

An estimated 6.1 million children ages
4-17 have been diagnosed with ADD/ADHD and approximately 8 million U.S. adults have the disorder. However,
it is estimated that less than 20% of adults with the condition have received a
diagnosis. And of those who have been diagnosed, only about 1 in 4 seek
treatment. This adds up to millions of adults who are at increased risk of
developing COVID-19 due to untreated ADD/ADHD.

WHAT’S
ADD GOT TO DO WITH IT?

What is behind
the connection between ADD/ADHD and increased risk? It likely lies in the hallmark
ADD/ADHD symptoms, including:

  • risk-taking behavior
  • impulsivity
  • forgetfulness
  • inattention
  • poor attention to detail
  • poor judgment
  • difficulty with follow-through

During the
pandemic, these characteristics can manifest in potentially harmful ways, such
as forgetting to wash your hands, impulsively hosting a wild party with a lot
of people, or not following health directives. These actions put people at
greater risk of exposure to COVID-19 and to developing the illness.

ADD/ADHD ISN’T
JUST ONE THING

What most people don’t realize is that ADD/ADHD isn’t just one thing. Over 30 years of brain SPECT imaging studies at Amen Clinics have shown that there are 7 types of ADD/ADHD. One size does not fit all, and each type has its own set of symptoms and requires a personalized treatment plan. What works for one person with ADD/ADHD may not work for another—or could even make the symptoms worse.

At Amen Clinics, brain scans of people with ADD/ADHD
consistently point to decreased activity in the prefrontal cortex (PFC).
Typically, when a person without ADD/ADHD tries to concentrate, activity
increases in the PFC, but when someone with the condition attempts to
concentrate, activity decreases. The harder they try, the worse it gets.

The 7 Types of ADD/ADHD are:

Type 1: Classic ADD: When most people think about attention-deficit disorder they think about this type, which is characterized by hyperactivity, restlessness, impulsivity, disorganization, distractibility, and trouble concentrating.

Type 2: Inattentive ADD: This is the second most common type of ADD/ADHD. People with this type tend to be labeled as slow, lazy, spacey, or unmotivated. They can be quiet and distracted.

Type 3: Overfocused ADD: People with this type have all of the core ADD/ADHD symptoms plus tremendous trouble shifting attention and a tendency to get stuck of locked into negative thought patterns or behaviors.

Type 4: Temporal Lobe ADD: The temporal lobes, which are located underneath your temples and behind your eyes, are involved with memory, learning, mood stability, and visual processing of objects. Learning and behavior problems are commonly associated with this type.

Type 5: Limbic ADD: In this type, ADD/ADHD and depression intersect. The core ADD/ADHD symptoms are present in addition to negativity, moodiness, sadness, low energy, and decreased interest in life.

Type 6: Ring of Fire ADD: Unlike those with type 1 who have low activity in certain areas of the brain, these people tend to have excessive activity throughout the brain. On brain SPECT scans, it lights up like a ring of hyperactivity. Symptoms commonly seen in this type include irritability, hyperactivity, excessive talking, overfocus issues, extreme oppositional behavior, and cyclic periods of calm behavior alternating with intense aggressive behavior. Stimulant medication tends to make these people worse.

Type 7: Anxious ADD: In people with this type it is common for ADD/ADHD symptoms to become magnified and to be accompanied by anxiety, a fear of being judged, predicting the worst, being conflict avoidant, and having physical stress symptoms (such as headaches, stomachaches, muscle tension).

Knowing your type of ADD/ADHD is the key to finding the most
effective treatment.

ADD/ADHD,
anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues can’t wait. During these
uncertain times, your mental well-being is more important than ever and waiting
until life gets back to “normal” is likely to make your symptoms worsen over
time.

At Amen Clinics, we’re here for you. We offer in-clinic brain scanning and appointments, as well as mental telehealth, remote clinical evaluations, and video therapy for adults, children, and couples. Find out more by speaking to a specialist today at 888-288-9834. If all our specialists are busy helping others, you can also schedule a time to talk.

The post The Scary Connection Between ADD/ADHD and COVID-19 appeared first on Amen Clinics.

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