This month is the ADHD awareness month and we wanted to share with you an interview with one of the PROUD participants (CoCA project, Comorbid Conditions of ADHD).
The participant is a 21-year old male college student who is originally from Peru but has been living in Barcelona for a few years. He participated and did the exercise intervention of the PROUD Study.
- What is it like to live with ADHD?
Please describe your main symptoms. Have your symptoms changed since childhood vs. adulthood?
When I was an adolescent, my main symptoms were low concentration capacity and hyperactivity (I could not sit for a long time). I was always bored and doing too many things at the same time. I was very impulsive as well and I had problems with my family and friends because I meddled in their activities and conversations.
Now I am 21 years old and I notice I have less hyperactivity and I can control more my impulsivity. On the other hand, my concentration is still bad and I need external help in order to improve it (pharmacology).
When were you diagnosed with ADHD? By whom? How did you feel about getting the diagnosis?
When I was 11 years old, I had very many academic difficulties and the school Psychologist noticed some ADHD symptoms in me. So, she sent me to a specialized psychology center and I was diagnosed with ADHD. This was in Perú, my country, but here in Spain I repeated some tests and I was diagnosed again and the psychologist confirmed the diagnosis.
At that time, I felt like the most weird kid in my class because I had to spend some hours with the School psychologist and do some separate activities from the other children. My classmates asked me all the time where I was going and this bothered me.
How have you been treated (medication/ psychotherapy)? What are the effects?
When I was in Perú, I remember my parents gave me a syrup (I don’t remember the name) and my teachers were worried because they said I didn’t move from my chair in all day long, like I was sedated. My parents worried as well, and stopped giving it to me.
Then when I was older, in Spain, my brother told me I was very disorganized and I didn’t use the time well (referring to my studies). So I went to a different doctor and I started with ADHD medication.
The main effects I notice are irritability, low mood, less spontaneity and the fact that I prefer to be alone because I have a lot of concentration.
How does ADHD influence your life? (Work, friends/partnership, hobbies etc.)
When I was kid it was more difficult because I wanted to be like the other kids and be treated like a “normal” kid at school. I am competitive and I wanted to achieve the same goals as the other kids.
Regarding the friendships, it depends because there are times I want to be with friends and there are times I prefer to be alone. Some friends have been angry with me because I didn’t pay attention to them for a long time.
Do your friends/ colleagues know about your illness?
I mentioned the ADHD to a few friends and classmates because they didn’t understand some things about my behavior, my mood changes, etc. Sometimes I think people think I am dumb or something when I explain to them about the ADHD. That’s because it is difficult to me to talk about my disease.
What is the worst thing about having ADHD?
The worst thing about having ADHD is that people have a lot of prejudices about it and have a lot of incorrect thoughts about what it means. Some people told me that I will become a drug addict because I was taking pills for ADHD, they always think I don’t need the pharmacology. People usually treat me like a lazy person but I am not lazy, I just have low concentration capacity.
Sometimes, I believe that I won’t be able to achieve my objectives, I feel like I am not good for anything, and this is the saddest part about ADHD for me.
Do you think ADHD has any positive influences in your life?
I think so. I have had to be creative and follow my own strategies. I have been alone (without any friends) sometimes but this has made me stronger. And the most important thing, I know I have difficulties because of ADHD but I have learned to be a tenacious person and never give up.
- Study and Intervention
How did you learn about the study?
My psychiatrist from Vall d’Hebron told me about the study.
What motivated you to participate?
What motivated me the most is that if I participate in this kind of study, it could help the professionals to investigate and improve the ADHD treatments.
What were your expectations about the study before you started?
I wanted to learn more about this illness so I thought this study could help me too.
What intervention did you participate in? When?
I did the Exercise condition. I started 5 months ago more or less.
What did you like about the intervention? What did you dislike about the intervention?
I really liked the fact that I had a continuous monitoring and regular visits. Furthermore, the psychologist J.P. helped me a lot to understand all the devices I had to use and was very patient with me. She also helped me with more ADHD issues and gave me good advice.
On the other hand, what I didn’t like was the sensor I had to wear all the time because it was very big and uncomfortable.
Was the intervention helpful? (Any effects on ADHD core symptoms, mood, sleep, weight, fitness etc.?)
I think the intervention was helpful for improving my physical condition and I was more tired so it helped me to sleep better. I also understood that my emotions and mood are important and that I have to take care of my mental health.
Was it difficult/easy to use the App?
It was easy to use the App but sometimes I had doubts about the sensor, because I didn’t know if it was synchronized with the smartphone or not.
Would you recommend other people with ADHD to participate in the study? Why?
Yes, I would recommend it, because it is important to investigate and you can learn more about the symptoms and adverse events of ADHD.
Any suggestions/ways that the researchers could improve the experience for people in this study?
I would just change the sensor or the fact that you have to wear it all the time. I was embarrassed and it was very big.
Are you interested in participating, or do you want more information?
The trial will be continued until 2020. All outpatients with ADHD aged 14 to 45 years old living in and around Barcelona, Frankfurt, London or Nijmegen are invited to participate in the trial.
More information about the trial can be found on the CoCA website: http://coca-project.eu/coca-phase-iia-trial/study/