Physical health problems common in ADHD
There is a clear relationship between ADHD and obesity, both in children and in adults. Binge eating may occur – a sign of impulsivity. Unhealthy eating habits can result from poor planning of shopping and poor motivation to prepare healthy food.
Epilepsy is increased in patients with adult ADHD. Studies suggest that ADHD occurs in 10-30% of patients with epilepsy.
Migraine is in the top 3 of WHO most disabling conditions causing significant distress and time off work. Migraine is strongly associated with ADHD with comorbidity increasing with age and female gender.
Chronic Pain and Fibromyalgia
Fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS) is a common and chronic pain disorder which is much more common in women. There is some evidence it is more common in ADHD and that some people with ADHD and chronic pain treated with stimulant medicines, had a lower prevalence of chronic pain than those not treated.
Patients with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS) and Hypermobility syndrome (HS) frequently report musculoskeletal pain and appear to be at a significantly increased risk of being diagnosed with psychiatric disorders including ADHD.
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)
Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is a disorder characterised by very significant fatigue which worsens with physical or mental activity, which does not improve with rest and which is not explained by any underlying medical condition. About 30% of CFS patients have childhood ADHD, with ADHD persisting into adulthood in 21% of patients.
Restless leg syndrome (RPLS) and Periodic limb movements of sleep (PLMS)
Restless leg syndrome (RLS) is an urge to keep moving the legs (and rarely the arms) and is usually experienced when sitting resting in the evening and particularly when in bed at night-time. Patients describe having to get up and walk around the bedroom to relieve the unpleasant feelings. This is a very “physical” and uncomfortable sensory experience affecting the legs and can with careful enquiry, be separated from the internal sense of restless arising as a core feature of ADHD. Studies have shown that up to 44% of patients with ADHD have symptoms of RLS and this may further impede their ability to get off to sleep. Patients with ADHD may also be more likely to suffer with Periodic Limb Movements of Sleep (PLMS) which is the frequent movement of the legs during sleep.
ADHD was traditionally thought to just affect children and teenagers. Now it is recognised that most people with ADHD do not ‘grow out of it’ and it usually continues into adulthood.
Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria (RSD)
RSD is a form of emotional over-reactivity and is described as the exquisite sensitivity to teasing, rejection or criticism.