ADULT ADHD FACTS AND NUMBERS

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Adult ADHD Statistics:

Adult ADHD diagnosis rates are on the rise. ADHD diagnoses among adults are growing four times faster than ADHD diagnoses among children in the United States. Prevalence increased by only 26.4% among children compared with the 123.3% increase observed in adults. 1

Still, ADHD is thought to be underdiagnosed in adults compared to children.

It is estimated that fewer than 20% of adults with ADHD are currently diagnosed and/or receiving treatment from psychiatrists. Most scientists believe adult ADHD remains underdiagnosed 2 because diagnostic criteria for ADHD in the DSM-V were developed for children, and because adults with ADHD often have other psychiatric disorders that may mask the symptoms of ADHD.

ADHD, especially if untreated, is seen as the cause of reduced quality of life for adults.

  • People with ADHD, especially those who were not treated at childhood, are more likely to face difficulty obtaining and maintaining employment compared to adults without ADHD. 4

  • People with ADHD are more likely to experience difficulties with all types of relationships (friendships, romantic, with family, etc.). 5


Other outcomes associated with adult ADHD include vulnerability to anxiety, mood disorders, negative habits, impaired driving safety, and even premature death from accidents. 3

Symptoms of inattentiveness are more common than are symptoms of hyperactivity and impulsivity in girls and women with ADHD. 6

Women with ADHD are more likely to experience low self-esteem compared to men with ADHD and women without ADHD. 6

Even with symptoms present in childhood, diagnosis tends to come in adulthood for a significant proportion of women with ADHD. 7

Article sources:

1) Chung W, Jiang S, Paksarian D, et al. Trends in the Prevalence and Incidence of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder Among Adults and Children of Different Racial and Ethnic Groups. JAMA Netw Open. 2019;2(11):e1914344.

2) Ginsberg, Y., Quintero, J., Anand, E., Casillas, M., & Upadhyaya, H. P. (2014). Underdiagnosis of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder in adult patients: a review of the literature. The primary care companion for CNS disorders, 16(3), PCC.13r01600. https://doi.org/10.4088/PCC.13r01600

3) Geffen, J., & Forster, K. (2018). Treatment of adult ADHD: a clinical perspective. Therapeutic advances in psychopharmacology, 8(1), 25–32. https://doi.org/10.1177/2045125317734977

4) Halmøy, A., Fasmer, O. B., Gillberg, C., & Haavik, J. (2009). Occupational outcome in adult ADHD: impact of symptom profile, comorbid psychiatric problems, and treatment: a cross-sectional study of 414 clinically diagnosed adult ADHD patients. Journal of attention disorders, 13(2), 175–187. https://doi.org/10.1177/1087054708329777

5) Ginsberg, Y., Quintero, J., Anand, E., Casillas, M., & Upadhyaya, H. P. (2014). Underdiagnosis of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder in adult patients: a review of the literature. The primary care companion for CNS disorders, 16(3), PCC.13r01600. https://doi.org/10.4088/PCC.13r01600

6) Quinn, P. O., & Madhoo, M. (2014). A review of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder in women and girls: uncovering this hidden diagnosis. The primary care companion for CNS disorders, 16(3), PCC.13r01596. https://doi.org/10.4088/PCC.13r01596

7) Holthe, M. E. G., & Langvik, E. (2017). The Strives, Struggles, and Successes of Women Diagnosed With ADHD as Adults. SAGE Open. https://doi.org/10.1177/2158244017701799
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