Challenging Yet Attainable: Complete Mental Health with ADHD
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Challenging Yet Attainable: Complete Mental Health with ADHD

When can you be in complete mental health? When you are free from mental illnesses like substance use disorders, depression, anxiety, and suicidality, when you feel happiness almost daily or satisfied with life in the past month, and when you experience high levels of social and psychological well-being in the past month. ADHD (Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder), with its symptoms such as inattention, impulsivity, and/or hyperactivity is associated with numerous adverse outcomes across the lifetime especially detrimental mental health outcomes. But one of the shifting mental health research studies in favour of a more holistic view on mental health recovery and flourishing reported 2 in 5 (42%) adults with ADHD were in complete mental health.

The study compared the prevalence and odds of achieving complete mental health among individuals with and without ADHD and identified factors associated with complete mental health among those with ADHD. The author Esme Fuller-Thomson, professor at the University of Toronto’s Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work and director of the Institute for Life Course and Aging considers this finding a very hopeful message for individuals struggling with ADHD and their loved ones.

The investigators conducted a secondary analysis of the 2012 Canadian Community Health Survey-Mental Health (CCHS-MH), and the sample consisted of 480 respondents with ADHD and 21,099 respondents without ADHD. Among the several factors associating those with ADHD with complete mental health, namely religious and spiritual involvement, physical activity, the presence of co-morbid mental health conditions, the role of debilitating pain, gender gap, absence of physical abuse during childhood, marital status, etc, individuals who were not subject to chronic pain and had no lifetime history of co-morbid mental health conditions such as depression or anxiety had more thriving chances of attaining complete mental health.

Though the effects of religiosity in ADHD patients are still not clear, continuing research stressed the potential for religiosity to support the social, emotional, and psychological dimensions of complete mental health.

Lauren Carrique, co-author, a recent Master of Social Work (MSW) graduate from the University of Toronto highlighted the significance of physical activity compared to sedentary lifestyles in helping individuals with ADHD achieve complete mental health.

Bradyn Ko, co-author, a recent MSW graduate, of the University of Toronto emphasized the importance of addressing co-morbid mental health issues concerning the substantial barriers faced by individuals with ADHD also struggling with depression and anxiety in achieving complete mental health and in substantially benefiting from targeted care. This study also reported that 1 in 4 (25%) adults with ADHD had debilitating pain indicating unmet treatment needs.

Andie MacNeil, a recent MSW graduate, University of Toronto underlined the observation that there has been increased vulnerability to adverse mental health outcomes like depression and suicidal ideation, and a high proclivity to experiencing symptoms of anxiety observed among women with ADHD associated with their higher lifetime history of depression and anxiety.

The study aligned with the bidirectional relationship between the absence of physical abuse during childhood such as child maltreatment and hostile parenting styles and physical disciple to name a few and the early onset of ADHD. It also stated that compared to their single, divorced, or widowed counterparts, individuals with ADHD who were married or in a common-law relationship had 83% higher odds of living in complete mental health as their partners often take part in finance management, appointment tracking , home maintenance and other compensation strategies.

With the prevalence of limited positive mental health outcomes research, the area of research focusing on ADHD and complete mental health could be benefited from examining other significant factors contributing to ADHD diagnosis, in particular, research on interventions such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and other relevant therapies could aid in recognizing the best strategies for increasing the prevalence of complete mental health among individuals with ADHD.

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