New Insights on ADHD Revealed Through Twitter
등록일 2019년 01월 07일 토요일
수정일 2017년 11월 25일 토요일

Photo by: Photo-Mix via Pixabay

ADHD is a disorder that is characterized as the most common behavioral disorder among children and teens as well as adults.It involves an individual having a consistent pattern of hyperactivity and inattention in social, academic, and occupational settings.A child or an older individual being unable to focus on something without being distracted primarily characterizes this.Children with ADHD are unable to control what they are doing or saying.In every person the symptoms of ADHD are different thus; it may be difficult to recognize ADHD symptoms.New research published in the Journal of Attention Disorders seeks to find out what Twitter can reveal about people with ADHD.Two researchers Sharath Chandra Guntuku and Lyle Ungar from the University of Pennsylvania carried out this study.

These researchers turned to Twitter to try to comprehend and find out what people with ADHD spend their time talking about.Sharath Guntuku, a postdoctoral researcher working with the World Well-Being Project in the School of Arts and Sciences and the Penn Medicine Centre for Digital Health, says that social media is the best platform where people freely express their mental state, which is rare in a clinical setting.In a clinical setting, patients have about 30- or 60-minute sessions, which is not enough time for the manifestation of ADHD conditions. "However, these individuals post their feelings broadly, and it is easier to know what their life is like," Sharath further adds.

The two researchers collected 1.3 million publicly available tweets posted by about 1,400 Twitter users who self-reported diagnosis of ADHD, and another set of individuals without the condition as a control group.Both groups constituted similarity in gender, age, and the time spent on social media.The researchers then ran models to measure factors such as posting frequency, type of message, and the personality of these individuals.

Sharath stated that some of their findings were by what is known about ADHD medically.For instance, some of the tweets from the experimental group often showed that they use marijuana for medication of the condition.  He further adds that their co-author Russell Ramsay, a medic for people with ADHD, affirmed that this is something that he has observed in conversations with his patients.

Study findings also indicated that the messages posted by people with ADHD were more inclined to intention, self-regulation, failure, and lack of focus, along with expressions of physical, emotional and mental exhaustion.Their tweets included words like sad, cry, hate, feeling low, and disappointed more often than those of the control group.They further tweeted during weird hours of the day.For instance, between midnight and 6 a.m.when most people are asleep.

Ungar, a professor of computer and information science in Penn Medicine and Wharton school, further added that people with ADHD experience more negativity and mood swings and are more likely to have less control on their emotions.He says this is the reason why these people enjoy social media's instant feedback.An appealing tweet posted at an appropriate time could yield positive feedback within minutes, encouraging the continued use of the online platform.

Sharath and Ungar, said they hope to develop condition-specific apps that offer intuition into various conditions such as ADHD, anxiety, opioid addiction, depression, and stress from the information obtained from this research and others.They aspire to consider facets of individuals, how severe their ADHD is or their personality, together with what triggers particular symptoms.

In addition, these applications will comprise of mini-interventions.For instance, a recommendation for an individual who cannot sleep will be able to switch off their phone one hour before going to bed.Again, if stress or anxiety is the central aspect, the app will likely suggest a simple exercise like taking a deep breath while counting 10 and back to zero.Ungar added that if a person is prone to particular issues or various things set them off, then this idea is meant to help set back the mind of that person.

Understanding people with ADHD better has a great potential of helping clinicians in treating ADHD patients more successfully.However, these findings have limitations.It can reveal aspects of a person's personality unintentionally, by merely carrying out an analysis of what is posted on Twitter.Furthermore, researchers affirm that the 50-50 split between ADHD and non-ADHD research participants is not exactly true to life; according to the National Institute of Mental Health, because only about 8 percent of people in the US have this behavioral disorder.Again, the participants in this study reported a self-ADHD diagnosis rather than having a medical record.

Regardless of the downside of this study, the researchers agree that the findings have a strong potential to help medics understand the different manifestations of ADHD, as well as become a complementary feedback tool to help people living with ADHD get personal perception.This study provides a better understanding of ADHD.

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