The former Liverpool legend, who also played for Arsenal, Birmingham, Liverpool, and Stoke during an 18-year professional career, discussed how the diagnosis made a lot of sense to him due to his previous troubles both on and off the field.
Speaking to Kate Garraway and Ben Shephard, Pennant bravely opened up on how much of his career was plagued with controversy but, after receiving the diagnosis, it helped him to understand his issues much more and why he acted the way he did.
“It is life-changing because I would ask myself so many questions over the years,” he said.
“Why do I leave destruction in my path? How have I got myself in certain situations? I just thought it was down to me being a lunatic or just not well or having serious issues.”
He continued: “But not actually identifying what they were so I was just round in the circles making the same mistake and telling myself, ‘I know I’m not a bad person, but why am I doing this?’”
He further elaborated how his forgetfulness was due to his diagnosis of ADHD alongside his Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), linked to childhood trauma, which led to a number of poor life choices.
Living with undiagnosed ADHD as an adult is said to cause unstable relationships, poor work or academic performance, low self-esteem, major mood swings, and other problems.
ADHD UK states that 2.6 million people in the UK are estimated to have ADHD. But what exactly is ADHD, what causes it, and how can adults get diagnosed?
Here’s everything you need to know.
What is ADHD?
ADHD, which stands for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, is a condition that affects people’s behaviour.
Its symptoms include restlessness, impulsivity, hyperactivity, and issues with concentration.
Many people experience inattention or changes in energy levels from time to time. However, for a person with ADHD, the inattention, energy levels, and concentration difficulties are major and more frequent, which has the potential to put pressure on their work and home life.
ADHD is widely divided into three types: inattentive/distractable, impulsive/hyperactive, and combined.
What causes ADHD?
While the exact cause of ADHD is still unknown, evidence suggests that genetic factors might be at play.
According to Hopkins Medicine, children with ADHD have low levels of the brain chemical dopamine.
Additionally, their brain metabolism in the areas of the brain that control attention, social judgement, and movement seem to be lower.
The NHS believes that being born prematurely, having a low birth weight, and parents consuming alcohol, drugs, or cigarettes during their pregnancy could play a role, as well as genetics and diet.
How can you get diagnosed as an adult?
If you’re an adult that believes you may have ADHD, the NHS suggests that you speak to your GP.
GPs aren’t qualified to formally diagnose you with ADHD, but they can refer you for specialist assessment.
During your GP appointment, they may ask you questions about your symptoms, family history, health conditions, and recent life events.
If they conclude that you have undiagnosed ADHD, have symptoms that can’t be explained by a mental health condition, and/or have symptoms that significantly affect your daily life, they will refer you to a specialist.
Who you’re referred to depends on your symptoms, age, and what’s available in your area. It could be a psychiatrist or another appropriately qualified healthcare professional.
Getting diagnosed as an adult is more difficult because there is some disagreement over which ADHD symptoms are seen in adults vs children with the condition.
Under the current diagnostic guidelines the NHS uses, adults cannot be diagnosed with ADHD unless their symptoms have been present from childhood. This is because medical professionals currently believe that ADHD cannot develop for the first time in adults.
Their symptoms also have to have at least a moderate effect on areas of their life, like their social relationships, romantic partnerships, work or education, and driving habits.
How is ADHD treated?
The condition can be treated using medicine or therapy, but the NHS advises that a combination of the two is often the best treatment plan.
These do not permanently cure ADHD, but they help those with ADHD concentrate better, be less impulsive, and feel calmer.
Another possible treatment that has displayed good results is sticking to a healthy and balanced diet, and keeping a diary of what you eat and drink, and the behaviour that follows to see if there is a link between certain types of food and your symptoms.
You can also discuss taking omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acid supplements with your GP, as there is some evidence suggesting that they may be beneficial for people with ADHD.