(dailyRx News) Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is the most common psychiatric condition in children. Many believe that the symptoms of ADHD are likely to go away with age - but a new study claims otherwise.
Because ADHD symptom patterns change and become less obvious in adults, it is often assumed that ADHD is less frequent in adults than in children. To the contrary,
ADHD symptoms in middle and late life have been associated with other mental health problems, like depression and anxiety.
Debjani Das, postdoctoral fellow of John Curtin School of Medical Research, led the study which concludes that “individuals experiencing even few ADHD symptoms have impaired functioning in personal and social domains, which correlates with poor health and well-being.
Persistence of these impairments is likely to increase late-life morbidity.”
In other words, adults who have only mild symptoms of ADHD still have increased chances of having other psychiatric disorders, like depression and anxiety. The combination of these may lead to problems with employment, finances, relationship quality, and overall well-being.
There were 2092 adults aged 47 to 54 who participated in the study. They used a self-reporting questionnaire developed by the World Health Organization in order to diagnose and categorize the participants. Of those that showed the strongest symptoms of ADHD, 45% also showed signs of depression. 25% showed signs of anxiety disorder.
Since Adult ADHD is associated with other psychiatric disorders, it can be difficult to properly diagnose. This makes it difficult for providers to understand ADHD and give proper treatment.
“The presence of co-existing depression and anxiety often make adult ADHD difficult to identify. Often the treatment for these more common diagnoses either have no effect, or a negative effect on the symptoms of ADHD,” notes LuAnn Pierce, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Adult ADHD specialist.
Substance abuse disorders are also associated with late-life symptoms of ADHD. “Substance use/abuse and addiction can also be a major problem for people with ADHD who are not receiving proper treatment. The use of alcohol and other drugs to to self-medicate is all to common, usually beginning in adolescence,” says Pierce.
With new information from this study, the researchers hope to develop better diagnosis and intervention programs for ADHD.
The study was published in the online journal PLoS One on February 8th, 2012, and funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia.