Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder: Is that child just being “stubborn”?

Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder: Is that child just being “stubborn”?

By Pharm. Ifunanya Ezeumeh.

It was one of those days. Work was hectic, the Lagos traffic didn’t make the day any better and to make matters “worse”, I wasn’t headed for home just yet. I still had some errands to run, one of which led me to the market where I currently was.


I had just walked into my favorite soup condiments merchant, Iya Tunde’s shop when I saw her beating and yelling at her son who was about 9 or 10 years. I immediately rushed to stop her from beating the child and pulled him away from her. I then asked her what the child had done to make her believe he deserved to be beaten.


“Doctor”, she referred to me as most Nigerians were wont to call members of the healthcare team who weren’t clearly nurses, “you don’t understand! He is too stubborn! Even his teachers in school complain of the same thing! When you are talking to him, he doesn’t pay attention or listen. When you send him on little errands, he gets distracted by almost everything and he is always losing one thing or the other!”

As if that is not enough, his teacher just left my shop a couple of minutes ago and told me that he had been meaning to talk to me about how my son never sits still or pays any attention to his studies and instead always distracts his classmates by talking excessively and interrupting his teachers while they are teaching!”.


She paused for a bit and I could tell that she was truly at her wit’s end.


“I don’t know what else to do doctor. When I first noticed all these about two years ago, I didn’t do anything for a while about it because I thought he would outgrow it. When he didn’t, I took him to my pastor because I became convinced that it was a spiritual attack. But after a lot of praying and fasting sessions, he is still the same way. I truly do not know what else to do!”


After her outburst, I tried to calm her down. When I was convinced that she was sufficiently calm, I proceeded to ask her if she had ever taken her child to see a general physician or more specifically, a psychiatrist.


“God forbid! Psychiatrist? Isn’t that the doctor for mad people? My son is not mad! Why should I take my son to even see a doctor at all? He is not sick. He is just very stubborn!”


I am going to share with you what I told her that day.


First of all, we, members of the healthcare team, believe there are no “mad” people. What we have are mentally ill people. Just as how a person can be physically ill and require medical intervention to attain optimum physical health once more, so can a person be mentally ill and all it will also take to attain optimum mental health once more is medical intervention.


Second, mental illnesses or disorders are not as a result of spiritual attacks.  Mental disorders can be as a result of chemical imbalances in the body, excessive neuronal discharges in the brain and a host of other identified causes or triggers.


Children generally have high energy levels and might be, sometimes, difficult to handle. But if the child exhibits most or all of these symptoms as outlined by Iya Tunde or as a parent your instincts tell you something is not quite right, it would be better to err on the side of caution and seek a doctor’s opinion on the child’s behaviour. That child may be suffering from ATTENTION DEFICIT AND HYPERACTIVITY DISORDER also known as ADHD.


ADHD is, very simply, defined a condition characterized by the inability to maintain and sustain attention and control behavior and impulses. It can ONLY be correctly diagnosed by a LICENSED PSYCHIATRIST and the disorder is treated using pharmacological and/or non-pharmacological approaches. Most mental disorders can be completely treated if the patient is diagnosed early with treatment beginning as soon as possible.


A Pharmacist, which I am very proud to be, is not a doctor and cannot completely play the role of a doctor and vice versa.


A Pharmacist, in a nutshell, is the ONLY licensed medication expert.


We ensure that every patient is given individualized care which enhances the quality of life and overall health of the patient: mentally, physically, socially and emotionally by ensuring that our patients are taking the right drugs; at the right doses, and at the right time, that the drugs are stored correctly in ensure maintenance of the drugs full potency at the time of administration, to minimize side effects experienced by our patient, improve social and occupational functioning by reducing dependency, to prevent relapse and rehospitalization, to reduce the financial burden of healthcare costs for our patients and a host of other functions.


We, our society, need to stop the stigmatization associated with mental health disorders. It is NOT contagious and it is NOT a death sentence. With our love, understanding and support, People living with mental disorders can live full and happy lives.


I will come to a close with this, “People [only] fear what they do not understand”– A.J. Darkholme.


Do not hesitate to read extensively and/or ask your healthcare providers on mental health disorders to educate yourself and those around you.


Until next time, I hope you will join me in creating more awareness about Mental health and the role pharmacists play.

Ifunanya is a pharmacist from Nigeria passionate about mental health awareness, volunteering and Pharmaceutical Care. Currently she is working on leveraging technology to ensure Universal Health Coverage for all.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @ifunanyaezeumeh


1 thought on “Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder: Is that child just being “stubborn”?

  1. Debola

    True. People fear what they do not understand. Nice right up ify.

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