It’s a familiar irritating phenomenon: you’re trying to fall asleep, read or concentrate, but a catchy song is playing over and over in your head.
According to some commentators on TikTok, this isn’t a normal part of life – it is in fact a sign you have the behavioral disorder, ADHD.
ADHD, or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, is a condition characterized by lack of attention and impulsivity. At least 14 million Americans are estimated to have it and rates have been steadily increasing in recent decades.
The number of people in the US with ADHD more than doubled between 2007 and 2016, according to a study published in the medical journal JAMA.
The soaring prevalance has led some experts to accuse professionals of over-diagnosing the condition, and following a ‘trend’, to the fury of ADHD patients themselves.
The man, who has 70,000 followers, uses the strange term ‘earworms’ – which describes a catchy or memorable piece of music that constantly occupies a person’s mind, even after it is no longer being played or spoken about
In the clip, which has been viewed more than 4million times, a young man, who shared videos under the username ‘@himroids’, says: ‘ I just learned five seconds ago that songs being stuck in your head on repeat is not normal.
‘A friend of mine was just giving me a life update, and she said she had run out of a medication because she didn’t go to get a refill – and now that she’s back on her medication, she doesn’t have songs stuck in her head all day.’
The man, who has 70,000 followers, uses the strange term ‘earworms’ – which describes a catchy or memorable piece of music that constantly occupies a person’s mind, even after it is no longer being played or spoken about.
Dr Stuart Fischer, an internal medicine physician in New York, told .com that 90 percent of people regularly get songs stuck in their head, or ‘earworms’.
He said: ‘When you hear a new catchy pop song you’ll be thinking about it and maybe humming it up once you get the melody. This doesn’t mean you have a mental illness. That’s crazy.’
He added: ‘Certain tunes, let’s say the can-can, or if you go to see something on Broadway, the composer would love you to be singing their hit tune as you leave the theater.
‘If it happens, this is not people with ADHD, not at all.’
In fact, earworms are simply the result of the activation of specific brain areas, including the auditory cortex which is near the ear lobes, as well as other lobes involved in memories and emotional connections.
One 2020 study found 97 per cent of people surveyed had experienced an earworm in the past year.
ADHD is a life-long condition what is typically diagnosed in childhood, but recent years have seen an increase in adult diagnoses.
Neuroscientists have not pinned down a cause, though genetics is believed to play a major role.
The primary symptoms, which typically manifest before age 12, include troubles with paying attention and hyperactive-impulsive behavior.
People with ADHD may be continuously fidgety, unable to concentrate on a given task, talking excessively, interrupting others and easily distracted.
In adults, ADHD symptoms often include impulsiveness, poor time management, problems focusing on a task, disorganization, mood swings, a temper and poor planning.
Dr Fisched said: ‘ADHD is overdiagnosed… kids are given medication and some of them may not truly have a chemical abnormality. They’re being given a medicine for a problem they may outgrow very easily.’
Someone with ADHD, ‘would probably have altered behaviors’, Dr Fischer said, but they’d also have ‘repetitive physical behaviors, repetitive vocabulary.
‘Symptoms of ADHD are reflected in many different areas of life.’
He added: ‘People are looking for diagnoses to validate their behavior… they self diagnose based on the internet. They come up with some very strange ideas.
‘There is no disease that only causes people to repeat tunes over and over.’
What is ADHD?
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a behavioral condition defined by inattentiveness, hyperactivity and impulsiveness.
Symptoms typically appear at an early age and become more noticeable as a child grows. These can also include:
- Constant fidgeting
- Poor concentration
- Excessive movement or talking
- Acting without thinking
- Inability to deal with stress
- Little or no sense of danger
- Careless mistakes
- Mood swings
- Difficulty organizing tasks
- Continually starting new tasks before finishing old ones
- Inability to listen or carry out instructions
Most cases are diagnosed between six and 12 years old. Adults can also suffer, but there is less research into this.
ADHD’s exact cause is unclear but is thought to involve genetic mutations that affect a person’s brain function and structure.
Premature babies and those with epilepsy or brain damage are more at risk.
ADHD is also linked to anxiety, depression, insomnia, Tourette’s syndrome and epilepsy.
There is no cure.
A combination of medication and therapy is usually recommended to relieve symptoms and make day-to-day life easier.
Source: NHS Choices