Nadia Sawalha ADHD: Loose Women panellist shares news of diagnosis - symptoms of condition explained

Nadia Sawalha got emotional after finding out that she has ADHD

Loose Women panellist Nadia Sawalha shared a “life changing” diagnosis that she had received after undertaking an investigation into how ADHD specifically affects women. After going through an assessment, Sawalha was revealed to have symptoms “consistent with ADHD”.

This is everything you need to know.

What did Nadia Sawalha say on Loose Women?

During the pre-recorded segment on Loose Women, Sawalha underwent an ADHD assessment and talked to others who had been diagnosed with the condition, including her husband Mark Adderley.

Sawalha met up with specialist Rebecca Whelan to go through her assessment, part of which saw her look back on things throughout her childhood and adult life, reflecting on her thoughts and feelings and the way that she handled things. In one part, Sawalha noted how low self esteem had prevented her from driving due to “losing consciousness”.

At the end of her assessment, the specialist told Sawalha: “The symptoms you exhibit are consistent with ADHD.”

Nadia Sawalha attends the “Knives Out” European Premiere during the 63rd BFI London Film Festival at the Odeon Luxe Leicester Square on October 08, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Lia Toby/Getty Images for BFI)

Reacting to the news, Sawalha got emotional and replied: “I don’t know why that makes me cry, sorry!”

Back in the live studio, Sawalha gave her fellow panellists an update about how things have been going since being diagnosed, and encouraged viewers to get themselves checked out.

She said: “I couldn’t accept there was some reason for all this chaos I’ve experienced throughout my life.”

Sawalha added: “If any of this resonates with you, just investigate it a bit further because I am now finding out so much stuff. I have now started medication and things are really changing for me.”

What is ADHD?

ADHD stands for “Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder”, and is a condition that can affect a person’s behaviour - people with ADHD may seem restless, can have trouble concentrating and might find themselves often acting impulsively.

The NHS states that symptoms of ADHD tend to be noticed at an early age, and most cases are diagnosed when children are under 12 years old, but you can be diagnosed at any age. ADHD symptoms can improve with age, however adults who were diagnosed with ADHD as children tend to continue to experience problems throughout their life.

If you’re concerned that you, or your child, has ADHD, you should speak to your GP (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

While the exact cause of ADHD is unknown, research has shown that the condition can run in families, and there are some factors that have been suggested as potentially contributing to ADHD, like:

  • Being born prematurely (before the 37th week of pregnancy)
  • Having a low birthweight
  • Smoking, alcohol or drug abuse during pregnancy 

There is no cure for ADHD, however there are things that can help - for children, it can be managed with appropriate educational support, advice and support for parents and affected children, alongside medicine, if necessary. For adults with ADHD, medicine is often the first treatment offered, although psychological therapies such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) may also help.

What are the symptoms of ADHD?

The symptoms of ADHD can be split into two types of behavioural problems - inattentiveness, which refers to difficulty concentrating and focusing, and hyperactivity and impulsiveness.

Many people with ADHD have problems that fall into both of these categories, but that isn’t always the case for everyone.

According to the NHS, around two to three in 10 people with ADHD have problems with concentrating and focusing, but not with hyperactivity or impulsiveness. This form of ADHD is also referred to as attention deficit disorder (ADD).

The symptoms of ADHD in children and teenagers are pretty well defined.

The main symptoms of inattentiveness are:

  • Having a short attention span and being easily distracted
  • Making careless mistakes – for example, in schoolwork
  • Appearing forgetful or losing things
  • Being unable to stick to tasks that are tedious or time-consuming
  • Appearing to be unable to listen to or carry out instructions
  • Constantly changing activity or task
  • Having difficulty organising tasks
ADHD can affect a persons ability to concentrate (Photo by DANIEL LEAL/AFP via Getty Images)

The main signs of hyperactivity and impulsiveness are:

  • Being unable to sit still, especially in calm or quiet surroundings
  • Constantly fidgeting
  • Being unable to concentrate on tasks
  • Excessive physical movement
  • Excessive talking
  • Being unable to wait their turn
  • Acting without thinking
  • Interrupting conversations
  • Little or no sense of danger

Adult symptoms of ADHD tend to be more subtle than that of childhood symptoms.

Some specialists have suggested the following as a list of symptoms associated with ADHD in adults:

  • Carelessness and lack of attention to detail
  • Continually starting new tasks before finishing old ones
  • Poor organisational skills
  • Inability to focus or prioritise
  • Continually losing or misplacing things
  • Forgetfulness
  • Restlessness and edginess
  • Difficulty keeping quiet, and speaking out of turn
  • Blurting out responses and often interrupting others
  • Mood swings, irritability and a quick temper
  • Inability to deal with stress
  • Extreme impatience
  • Taking risks in activities, often with little or no regard for personal safety or the safety of others – for example, driving dangerously

If you think you or your child have ADHD, then you should speak to your GP. While your GP cannot formally diagnose ADHD themselves, they can discuss any concerns with you and can refer you for a special assessment if required.