by Claire West

Dancing with the Stars performer discusses her struggle with ADHD to encourage other adults with ADHD to seek evaluation and appropriate treatment

In recognition of national ADHD Awareness Day, “Dancing with the Stars” performer and professional dancer, Karina Smirnoff, is adding her voice to the growing attention about adult Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) by sharing her personal experiences for the first time and advocating for others to seek evaluation and appropriate treatment. Karina is partnering with Shire plc (LSE: SHP, NASDAQ: SHPGY), the global specialty biopharmaceutical company and a leader in ADHD treatment, in an effort to highlight the impact of ADHD on adults at work, at home, and in social settings, and to educate people that ADHD symptom management is possible.

“As a professional dancer, I’ve become known for my moves and my career accomplishments, but most people don’t know about another part of my life–I’m an adult with ADHD,” said Karina Smirnoff, performer on ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars.”

Karina has struggled with the ADHD symptoms of inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity, throughout her life. She was diagnosed after a friend recognized how her symptoms were impacting her life, and urged her to see a doctor. With the hope that other adults with ADHD will benefit from her story, she is speaking out about her experiences with ADHD to reinforce that ADHD is a real, treatable medical disorder.

“My parents tried anything and everything just to address my inattention and provide an outlet for my hyperactivity,” said Karina. “They enrolled me in activities that held my interest like figure skating, ballet, gymnastics, and playing the piano. Throughout my life, I have found ways to cope with my symptoms, because I thought they were just part of who I am.”

“After speaking with my doctor and getting diagnosed with ADHD, I realized that having tools–such as medication and organizational strategies–would help manage my symptoms. In addition to recommending strategies, such as taking breaks during rehearsals, my doctor prescribed Vyvanse® (lisdexamfetamine dimesylate) Capsules CII, as part of my ADHD treatment plan. Like most adults, my schedule is very busy. My day is filled with 10-hour dance rehearsals for my television show, teaching choreography, dancing in shows, and constant travel. With improvement in my ADHD symptoms, I can focus on finishing what I start.”

“My doctor did let me know about the possible side effects of Vyvanse, including possible heart problems, as well as more commonly associated side effects including decreased appetite, difficulty falling asleep, and dry mouth,” said Karina. “Talk to your doctor about your symptoms. Because everyone is different, work with your doctor to find a treatment plan, which may include educational approaches, psychological or behavioral modification, and/or medication, that may be right for you.”

In a clinical study in adults with ADHD, Vyvanse significantly improved symptoms of inattention (eg, lack of focus), hyperactivity, and impulsivity. In another clinical study, once-daily Vyvanse provided consistent efficacy throughout the day at work, through home and family time, and even at 14 hours after taking. When taken at 7 AM, Vyvanse was shown to be effective 2 hours after taking, and effectiveness continued until 9 PM.

ADHD Can Affect Adults’ Daily Lives
Although many people tend to think of ADHD as a childhood disorder, up to 65 percent of children with ADHD may still exhibit symptoms into adulthood. Based on a survey of adults aged 18 to 44, an estimated 4.4 percent of adults have ADHD. When you consider the full US population aged 18 and over, this adds up to almost 10 million adults. While the symptoms of ADHD in children and adults may be the same, the impact on their lives and how others perceive these symptoms may be different. Adults sometimes develop strategies to cope with their ADHD symptoms, but each day of an adult’s life brings new duties and challenges which may eventually overwhelm those strategies, and new options may be needed.

“It’s great to see adults like Karina openly discuss their experiences with ADHD to lend increased visibility to the impact of the disorder on adults and the importance of effective treatment,” said Theresa Cerulli, MD, board certified psychiatrist at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston and Hallmark Health’s Lawrence Memorial Hospital. “Because the ADHD symptoms of inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity may impact adults throughout their day at work, at home, and in social settings, long-acting medication may be important for adults with ADHD.”

Vyvanse may not be right for everyone. Your doctor should check you carefully for any heart problems and you should tell the doctor about any mental problems you may have before starting treatment.