In 2017 there are smartphone apps available for virtually every aspect of daily life, including socializing, banking, news and entertainment, shopping and dating. And healthcare is no exception. Indeed, there are countless smartphone-orientated tools that address both preventative healthcare and the management of chronic conditions. For example, a health-conscious young woman may use her phone to keep an exercise diary, while an older heart disease patient may use a smartphone app to help ensure medication adherence.
In addition to physical health concerns and disease prevention, there are also smartphone apps that can help address mental disorders and provide support for patients living with these often long-term conditions. Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is an example of one of these illnesses.
As detailed by The American Psychiatric Association, ADHD is a condition wherein patients struggle to maintain what would be considered a normal attention span. Those with ADHD typically engage in impulsive behavior, and will also experience frequent episodes of hyperactivity. The condition is more common in children, although it can develop in adulthood. The APA noted that ADHD is thought to affect around 2.5 percent of the adult population, while roughly 5 percent of children are impacted. There is also a marked gender disparity in terms of diagnosis. Healthline explained females are diagnosed far less frequently than males - in fact, girls are up to three times less likely than boys to develop the condition.
In terms of what causes ADHD, Healthline explained that researchers have proposed that dopamine - a chemical released by the brain - may play some role. The APA also explained how research has indicated that ADHD may be a genetic condition, given the fact that it seems to run in families. The APA cited a statistic which found that for every four children with ADHD, three are related to someone also living with the illness. Despite these findings, scientists have been unable to find a definitive cause for ADHD.
The APA elaborated that under the ADHD banner there are actually three distinct types of the illness - the hyperactive/impulsive type, the inattentive type or a type that features characteristics of both. Symptoms vary between each subdivision, with the hyperactive/impulsive form obviously characterized more by symptoms of hyperactivity and impulsive behavior, and the inattentive type more defined by struggles with concentration. However, there are multiple symptoms that can indicate the presence of ADHD which can differ depending on when the patient is diagnosed. Trouble concentrating, difficulty sitting still and being easily distracted are all common signs, but so are less obvious symptoms such as depression, anxiety, feelings of strong emotion and daydreaming, Healthline explained. The later four symptoms tend to be more common in girls.
ADHD is usually diagnosed after patients exhibit certain symptoms for an extended period of time, the APA detailed. A diagnosis is made after a formal evaluation from a primary care provider - it is not possible to diagnose the condition via lab testing. In terms of treatment, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control explained that the condition is typically managed, especially for children, with a combination of medication and behavior therapy.
Apps that can make a positive difference
In addition to other treatment options, those living with ADHD, or their parents, can use apps to help learn more about and manage the illness. Some effective platforms that may be able to help include:
1. Rescue Time
For those living with ADHD who experience issues with concentration or time management, Rescue Time can help. As reported by Psychology Today, this app is able to generate reports for users, indicating to them the time they spend on certain activities and time spent procrastinating. It can be a helpful tool for those looking to making adjustments to their daily routine and get more from their time. Rescue Time is available to download for Android.
2. Epic Win
Designed primarily for children with ADHD, although equally fun for adults, Epic Win enables users to imagine daily tasks or chores as quests or games, Healthline explained. Upon completion of said tasks, users can earn points. Better still, users can create their own avatars that best represent them. Epic Win is particularly helpful for those with active imaginations and problems with long-term focus or concentration. The platform costs just under $2 to download and is compatible with iPhone.
As mentioned, keeping on top of deadlines and daily expectations is often more challenging for those with ADHD. The app named Due can make a positive difference. As detailed by Mind How, this simplistic platform is essentially a reminder alarm - users can plug in tasks and the corresponding deadline and the app will send push notifications with reminders. Due is available for iPhone or iPad and costs $4.99 to download.
Another helpful app geared toward time management, 30/30 provides users with routine reminders - every 30 minutes or so - that it's time to take a break, the Attention Deficit Disorder Association reported. The purpose of the tool is to encourage users to focus on tasks in terms of half hour increments, which in turn can help assignments feel more manageable. During the breaks users are encouraged to assess whether they have made good progress or given in to temptation by procrastinating.
Individuals are free to set their own task times - for example, it is possible to assign half an hour for one task and then add another to the list to follow directly after. The app informs users when the time is up for a particular assignment, the University of Missouri elaborated. The tool is free to download and available for iPad and iPhone.
5. ADHD Treatment
This app is designed with children in mind. The platform is able to help children improve cognitive function, as it carries a number of programs that research projects have shown to be effective at helping to treat the illness, Mind How explained.
In the digital age one of the most common forms of distraction, for those with and without ADHD, is the internet. Emails, social media, shopping, games, work - it can all eat into one's daily routine and time set aside for other things. This is where an app called Freedom can be of assistance. As outlined by ADDitude, a publication for those living with ADHD, Freedom works by automatically shutting off the internet at certain times, removing distraction.
For example, if a user of the app decides they want to stop playing online games or perusing social media at 6 p.m., they simply enter the time into the app and it takes care of the rest, switching off the internet when the time comes. This tool is compatible with desktop computers, including PC and Macs. It is also available to download as a smartphone app for Android. To use Freedom, individuals must pay a fee of $2.42 each month, although there is a free trial period available.