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Friday, December 28, 2007

Adult ADHD significantly impacts on social, financial and personal aspects of life

Nationally recognized Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) authority Russell Barkley, Ph.D., has embarked on a national speaking tour to discuss the symptoms of ADHD in adults and the potentially serious consequences these symptoms may have on the life of an adult living with this disorder.

ADHD is believed to affect an estimated 8.1 percent of adults, or 9.2 million adults across the U.S. based on a retrospective survey of adults aged 18 to 44, projected to the full U.S. adult population. The purpose of this tour is to help raise awareness about the importance of identifying, diagnosing and treating adult ADHD.

In children, ADHD may interfere with paying attention in school, completing homework or making friends. Difficulties experienced in childhood may continue into adulthood. The symptoms of ADHD in adults may lead to potentially serious consequences. Surveys have shown that when compared with their non-ADHD peers, adults with ADHD may be:

  • Three times more likely to be currently unemployed

  • Two times more likely to have problems keeping friends

  • Forty-seven percent more likely to have trouble saving money to pay bills

  • Four times more likely to have contracted a sexually transmitted disease

"This educational initiative is meant to provide information about ADHD in adults including the results of recent studies of adults with ADHD concerning their symptoms, impairments and functionality in many domains of life that support the results of previous research in this area," said Dr. Barkley author of a recently published book, ADHD in Adults: What the Science Says.

Two studies, one conducted at the University of Massachusetts (the UMASS study) and one conducted at The Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee (the Milwaukee study), were recently published in a book by Dr. Barkley. They were both designed to observe secondary outcomes of patients living with ADHD. These secondary outcomes included: educational and occupational functioning; drug use and anti-social behaviors; health, lifestyle, money management and driving; sex, dating, marriage, parenting and psychosocial adjustment of offspring; and neurological functioning. Observational outcomes showed that adults with ADHD, when compared to a control group, were more likely to use certain illicit drugs, engage in certain anti-social behavior, have financial problems and engage in risky sexual behavior. Outcomes of both studies were observed and documented through a combination of data gathering techniques, such as self-reporting, patient interviews and observation.

"These results, together with what we already know about ADHD, give the impression that ADHD has a potentially significant impact on the lives of many patients. There is hope for adults with ADHD. Today there are ways to manage this chronic condition, and I hope these findings serve as an impetus for adults with ADHD to seek medical advice from their healthcare providers," said Dr. Barkley.

The UMASS study, conducted from approximately 2003 to 2004, examined lifestyle outcomes among three cohorts of adult patients: 146 clinic-referred adults with ADHD, 97 adults seen at the same clinic who were not diagnosed with ADHD, and also a third general community sample of 109 adults without ADHD. Specifically, the UMASS study found that the adults with ADHD when compared to the non-ADHD control group were approximately three times more likely (21 percent compared to 6 percent) to sell drugs illegally. Additionally, the UMASS study found that 67 percent of adults with ADHD compared to the control group (15 percent) had trouble managing money.

The Milwaukee study, ongoing since 1977 (with the most recent follow-up conducted from 1999 to 2003), is an observational longitudinal study that looked at secondary lifestyle outcomes of 158 children who had been diagnosed with ADHD and, as adults, either continue to experience symptoms or no longer have the disorder at the age of 27, compared to a community control group of 81 children without ADHD who were followed concurrently. The Milwaukee study found that the adults with ADHD were approximately three times as likely when compared with the community control group to initiate physical fights (30 percent compared to 9 percent), destroy others property (31 percent compared to 8 percent) and break and enter (20 percent compared to 7 percent).

"As an organization dedicated to providing information and resources to adults with ADHD, we are excited to see such attention paid to this disorder," said Evelyn Polk-Green, MS, Ed., ADDA President-elect and adult living with ADHD. "The reason why these findings are so important is that they help to inform people that ADHD is not just a childhood disorder, but in fact, a disorder that may affect multiple aspects of adult life and should be properly diagnosed and treated. This research also reinforces the need for formalized and validated criteria for the diagnosis of adult ADHD and may play a significant role in the development of this diagnostic criteria and the addition of it to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders."

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