Mel B opens up about her ADHD, ADD and dyspraxia - but what are they?

LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 01:  Mel B speaks on stage during "A Brutally Honest Evening With Mel B" in support of Women's Aid at The Savoy Theatre on September 1, 2019 in London, England.  (Photo by David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images)
Mel B has opened up about the struggle of dating with ADHD. [Photo: Getty]

Mel B has opened up about the struggles of dating while battling a range of behavioural disorders.

Speaking on The Truth Flirts podcast, Scary Spice admitted to battling attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), attention deficit disorder (ADD) and dyspraxia.

With her “brain functioning differently”, the popstar worries she is “very vulnerable” and a potential partner could “take advantage”.

Mel B, 44, recently opened up about her 10-year marriage to her now ex-husband Stephen Belafonte, telling Lorraine it was “very, very abusive on every single level”.

Amid the singer’s struggles, Yahoo UK looks at what her conditions are and how they affect patients day-to-day.

Shocked grandma closing ears not to hear noisy stubborn fussy little granddaughter screaming demanding attention, preschool spoiled kid girl yelling at grandmother, child tantrum manipulation concept
Often associated with children, ADHD causes hyperactivity. [Photo: Getty]

What is ADHD?

ADHD is a behavioural disorder that causes hyperactivity, impulsiveness and inattentiveness, according to the NHS.

Most often associated with children, symptoms tend to start at an early age and become more severe during a “life change”, like starting school.

Between 2% and 5% of school-aged children in the UK are thought to have ADHD, ADHD Coaching statistics show.

And in the US, 6.1 million (9.4%) of youngsters aged two-to-17 are said to suffer, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

With many children going through periods of restlessness, the condition may go unnoticed for some time.

READ MORE: Some hyperactive kids may actually have sleep apnea, not ADHD

Warning signs to look out for include having a short attention span, always forgetting things, often changing activities midway through, being easily distracted and an inability to carry out instructions.

Fidgeting, excessive movement or talking, interrupting conversations and having no sense of danger should also raise alarm bells.

Although ADHD typically improves with age, adults can still suffer.

By 25, around 15% of patients still have a “full range” of symptoms, while 65% suffer to some extent, NHS statistics show.

A lack of research into the disorder in later life means less is known about symptoms in older patients.

Experts believe hyperactivity tends to improve with age, while inattentiveness may get worse.

Other symptoms include carelessness, poor organisational skills, mood swings, extreme impatience and an inability to cope under pressure.

READ MORE: How ADHD Affects Adults

The exact cause of the behavioural disorder is unknown, however, it can run in families, suggesting a genetic link.

Brain scans also imply some parts of the vital organ are larger or smaller in ADHD patients. They may also have an imbalance of the chemical messengers that allow different parts of the brain to “communicate”.

ADHD has also been linked to being born premature or of a low birth weight. Smoking or drug abuse during pregnancy may also raise the risk.

The condition is more common in children with learning difficulties, anxiety, depression, autism, epilepsy, dyslexia and Tourette’s.

Adults may also contend with personality disorders, bipolar or obsessive compulsive disorder.

ADHD has no cure, but medication and cognitive behavioural therapy can help to control symptoms.

Failure to treat children can cause them to fall behind at school or struggle to make friends.

Sticking to a set routine, with a defined bedtime can also help, according to the NHS.

Children also respond well to plenty of exercise, praise for good behaviour and clear instructions, like “please put your toys back in the box”.

Children together at modern school
Children with ADHD often daydream, distracted by their own thoughts. [Photo: Getty]

How is ADD different from ADHD?

ADD leaves patients struggling to concentrate, however, it does not cause the same impulsiveness or hyperactivity as ADHD, according to Lanc UK.

Symptoms include a lack of attention to detail or making careless mistakes, for example while doing homework.

Patients may also seem not to be listening when spoken to, as well as becoming easily distracted and deliberately avoiding things that require a lot of concentration.

They may also easily misplace items like pens, books or toys.

READ MORE: Three reasons your to-do list is not getting done if you have ADHD

Another tell-tale sign is daydreaming, where their own thoughts distract them.

While different from ADHD, the two conditions often occur in the same family, Lanc UK claims.

A low dose of a “psychostimulant” medication may help improve focus and concentration, however, in rare cases it can lead to poor appetite and insomnia.

Similar to ADHD, ADD is thought to affect between 3% and 5% of school-aged children, according to the Optometrists Network. It is unclear how many adults are suffer.

What is dyspraxia?

Dyspraxia is a developmental coordination disorder that affects movement, according to the Dyspraxia Foundation.

It is thought to come about due to a disruption in the way messages from the brain are sent around the body, preventing tasks from being carried out in a “smooth” way.

Dyspraxia is said to affect up to one in 10 people in the UK to some extent, with 2% suffering severely, Foundation for People with Learning Difficulties statistics show.

Worldwide, 6% of children are thought to suffer to some degree, according to the Dyspraxia Foundation USA.

Boys are said to be up to four times more likely to suffer than girls, NHS statistics show.

Signs may be obvious in babies or toddlers, with them often taking longer to crawl, walk or feed themselves.

Children may then struggle to write, type, play or ride a bike, while adults may find it difficult to drive or do DIY.

Some patients also find their speech is affected. They may also struggle to concentrate, follow instructions or pick up new skills.

READ MORE: 11 Gifts I Recommend for a Person With Dyspraxia

All this can make it difficult for a sufferer to get by at school or in the workplace, according to the Dyspraxia Foundation.

They may also struggle socially, with dyspraxia being linked to ADHD, dyslexia and autism.

Some dyspraxia patients also suffer from poor memory, perception or the processing of information, which can make it difficult for them to plan their time.

Dyspraxia’s cause is known and likely complex, with coordination involving many different parts of the brain.

It has been linked to being born premature or of a low birthweight, as well as a family history of the condition or drug use during pregnancy.

The condition can also come about as a result of a stroke or a head injury.

Dyspraxia has no cure. Children may be taught how to break difficult movements up into “smaller parts”.

Many then find they “grow out” of the condition with age.