Many child-health advocates argue that American kids are over-treated with medications for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. But new research suggests adults with ADHD are under-treated, with many going without any help at all for the disorder.
Adult ADHD affects about 3-4 percent of adults, causing a host of psychosocial impairments that affect daily living, according to the new research presented at a meeting of the European College of Neuropsychoparmacology in Barcelona this week. But fewer than 1 in 100 adults with the condition are receiving treatment, according to researchers from the Central Institute of Mental Health, Mannheim, Germany.
"In contrast [to the 3-4 percent prevalence rate], diagnostic prevalence is below 0.5 percent, indicating that a majority of cases go undiagnosed and untreated," said lead researcher Esther Sobanski, M.D., with the institute's Department of Psychiatry and Psychology.
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Dr. Sobranski noted up to two-thirds of children ADHD continue to struggle with the disorder as they mature into adulthood yet only a small proportion of adults ever receive a formal diagnosis and treatment.
Reviewing the impact of ADHD in adults, Dr. Sobanski noted patients often struggle with relationships, parenting difficulties, poor work, and academic performance, as well as a tendency toward dangerous driving habits like speeding and accident proneness in daily living.
"In addition to ADHD core symptoms, patients often experience associated symptoms like emotional dysregulation, sleep disturbances, or low self-esteem, as well as suffering from comorbid disorders, particularly depressive episodes, substance use and anxiety disorders," she explained.
Dr. Sobanki's research suggests medication can have an impact beyond ADHD symptoms, improving psychosocial functioning like managing driving, parenting, emotional problems, and sleep disorders.
Experts say therapy and medication can help ADHD sufferers cope with the condition and everyday struggles many face.
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