Studies have estimated the prevalence of adult ADHD in the U.S. between 2.5 and 4.4 percent, with a 5.4 percent diagnosis rate in men compared to a 3.2 percent diagnosis rate in women. Many adults with ADHD were never diagnosed as children. It is now known that while ADHD symptoms may diminish as children grow into adults, that is often not the case.
Adults with the condition may struggle for years and not understand what they are battling. For women, there is the extra complication of the how estrogen cycles affect ADHD symptoms. If they are finally diagnosed and get treatment, it may be well after irreparable harm has been done to their careers, finances and relationships.
The Problem with Delayed Diagnosis
A long term study in Sweden involving 1.2 million individuals showed that high school graduates with ADHD earn about 17% less than their peers without ADHD, are more likely to have stints of unemployment and to receive disability benefits because of their inability to work.
The study found that kids and teens with ADHD who continue their treatment have better outcomes than those who do not or who interrupt their treatment plan.
Another study, conducted as part of the Pittsburgh ADHD Longitudinal Study, found that adults with childhood ADHD could be expected to earn $1.25 million less over their lifetime than adults without a history of ADHD, over their lifetime, potentially reaching retirement with up to 75 percent lower net worth.
Researchers also found that at age 30, adults with a history of childhood ADHD continued to have worsening deficits across almost all financial indicators, including income, savings, employment status, and dependence on parents and other adults. Nearly half of the adults with childhood ADHD were regularly receiving money from parents, other adults, and/or the government.
These studies show that the cascade of negative career / financial impacts of undiagnosed and untreated ADHD can span a lifetime.
Changing the Odds
If you suspect that you or someone you know has adult ADHD, there are self-assessments you can take that will indicate whether you should seek a clinical evaluation and diagnosis. If diagnosed, a treatment plan might include medications, psychological counseling and / or coaching.
Another option may be to seek a career that is better aligned to your strengths where your creativity and different thinking can be fully realized,appreciated and rewarded. This may be one of the best way to tips the odds in your favor.