5 Essential Facts About Adult ADHD

by Staff Writer
January 30, 2023 at 9:09 AM UTC

Adult ADHD can lead to negative clinical and social effects.

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) doesn’t magically disappear on someone’s eighteen birthday. Many patients continue to display ADHD impairment into adulthood. 

British researchers wanted to understand the range of adverse effects ADHD has beyond childhood. so they reviewed the outcomes of more than 6,400 25-year-olds with ADHD over a year-long period. Here are five important findings from their The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry report.

  • Worldwide prevalence of adult ADHD is about 2.8 percent, according to the World Health Organization. In the US, estimates put the number somewhere between 2.5 and 4.4 percent. Men are diagnosed at a higher rate than women. But as ADHD influencer Dani Donovan pointed out in a recent Psychiatrist.com piece, it often takes women far longer to get a correct diagnosis and find the right medication.

  • The majority of adult ADHD patients experienced multiple adverse clinical outcomes including higher levels of depression, anxiety, substance misuse, and self-harm compared to their peers without ADHD. These adversities often carry a great personal, familial, and societal cost, the researchers noted. 

  • ADHD that persisted into young adulthood was also associated with multiple negative social outcomes including lower levels of emotional support and higher levels of “not in education, employment, or training”, or NEET for short. This pattern held regardless of sex, family of origin, and income level, and even when childhood comorbidities, young-adult emotional problems, and ADHD medication use were excluded. 

  • Severity of symptoms made a difference.The researchers linked persistent ADHD to a greater chance of multiple negative social outcomes compared to less severe ADHD. The odds of having multiple negative outcomes for those with persistent ADHD were two times higher than those with low symptoms. Additionally, 30 percent of individuals with persistent ADHD had at least one negative outcome such as unemployment or homelessness. One in four had multiple issues. 

  • Antisocial behavior was common in adults with ADHD too, the researchers noted. One meta-analysis they mentioned estimated a 5-fold higher prevalence of people with ADHD detained in youth prison populations (30.1 percent) and 10-fold in adult  prison populations (26.2 percent) across a number of countries, compared to others of the same age. 


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