A new study shows there is a significant rise in the diagnosis of ADHD in adults. It confirms a growing recognition in the medical community that ADHD is not a condition that individuals necessarily grow out of when they become adults. The implications are significant as a diagnosis of adult ADHD is linked to a near 13-year reduction of estimated life expectancy.
Recent research shows that about 60% of adults with ADHD have comorbid psychiatric conditions including: mood and anxiety disorders, substance use disorders, and personality disorders. The presence of these other conditions can often complicate the process of diagnosing and treating ADHD in an adult. Early recognition and treatment of ADHD and its comorbidities has the potential to change the trajectory of these psychiatric conditions later in life.
Katherine Ellison has achieved many things in her life. She has been a foreign correspondent in Latin America, the author of 5 books on practical neuroscience, and a Pulitzer Prize winner at age 27. She also has ADHD. One of her most popular works, Buzz: A Year of Paying Attention, was a memoir and journalistic overview of a year spent coping with ADHD after both she and her 12-year-old son were diagnosed with the disorder. In fact, it was her son’s diagnosis that ultimately led to her own.
Does having ADHD put you at higher risk of dying prematurely? Recent research suggests having ADHD can significantly shorten your life. Dr. Russell Barkley, an ADHD expert, has cast this as a serious public health issue that needs to be addressed through better education, evidence-based treatment interventions and lifetime monitoring. The importance and urgency of addressing ADHD as a public health concern have become higher as more children are diagnosed with ADHD.
A new genomic study of families whose members had ADHD showed they all had specific features in certain genes. The identification of such patterns may help improve the diagnosis of ADHD. Genetically based diagnosis of ADHD could provide earlier detection and treatment. This is especially critical now that 10% of children in the U.S. are being diagnosed with ADHD.
Parents with ADHD that has not been diagnosed are often overwhelmed by the demands of parenting and struggling to meet their children’s needs. Lacking organizational skills, they may find keeping up with their kids’ schedules and managing their behavior very stressful. With the right treatment, parents who have ADHD themselves can be the best caregivers for their children with ADHD.
As researchers discover more about ADHD, we are beginning to see that the disorder presents differently in boys and girls, and later, in adult men and women. Understanding these gender differences could help the medical community make earlier diagnoses of ADHD for girls and perhaps help forestall issues related to untreated ADHD later in life.
More adults in their 40s, 50s and 60s are being diagnosed with ADHD. They have experienced the symptoms of ADHD for years without understanding the cause. The understanding that comes from such a diagnosis can have positive, life changing effects. However, getting an ADHD diagnosis as an adult can be difficult because the normal aging process mimics some of the symptoms of the condition.