Kids With ADHD Face Mental Health Woes

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, or ADHD, is thought of a disorder that affects a kid’s ability to sit still and pay attention in school, but the truth is that ADHD can stay with the person who was diagnosed as a child.

As William Barbaresi, associate child of developmental medicine at Boston Children’s Hospital and author of the study, puts it, “We suffer from the misconception that ADHD is just an annoying childhood disorder that’s overtreated. This couldn’t be further from the truth.”

A new long-term study has yielded results that show experts that ADHD can continue on into adulthood, and that kids with ADHD face mental health woes as adults. According to the study, almost 60% of the children who were diagnosed with ADHD in childhood had been diagnosed with one or more mental illness or psychiatric disorder during adulthood, confirming that Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is a lifelong, chronic condition for more who have it.

Center For Disease Control And Prevention

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention state that about 5.4 million children ages four to seventeen have been diagnosed with ADHD in children, making approximately 9.5% of our child and adolescent population labeled as having ADHD. This now also means that apparently that many adults will carry the symptoms and difficulties of ADHD into adulthood with them.

As the children who have ADHD grow up, they enter the working world and face similar issues as those they faced in the classroom. Interpersonal relationships, and especially romantic relationships, are impacted and made more difficult than for those who have never been diagnosed with ADHD.

Treatment For ADHD

Treatment for the diagnosis while the individual is still a child or adolescent has shown to be most effective in limited the impact the disorder has in adulthood. Barbaresi goes on to say that, “The treatment needs to be by qualified individuals, it needs to start early, and…we need to reform our healthcare system so that we treat this as a chronic medical condition worthy of our attention — for the long haul, and not just in children.” With timely treatment and continuous maintenance, ADHD can be a manageable and livable disorder as a child grows up.

The study was conducted by researchers following a group of children who were born between 1976 and 1982, who still lived in the city of Rochester, Minnesota at age five. The total came out to a little more than 5,700 kids, 370 of which were diagnosed with ADHD. Two-thirds, or 247, or those kids received treatment for ADHD while still children.

Around age 27, each now grown child was surveyed, and it was found that:

  • 29% of those 370 kids who were diagnosed with childhood ADHD still had the disorder in adulthood, 108 kids,
  • 57% of the 370 kids, so 211, had some form of a psychiatric disorder in adulthood, compared with 35% who now had a psychiatric disorder but did not have diagnosed ADHD as a kid,
  • 10 of the 370 ADHD kids had been arrested and were serving jail or prison time,
  • 7 of the 370 ADHD kids had died (almost 2%), 3 from suicide, compared with 37 total deaths among those who did not have ADHD (4,960, so less than 1%), 5 of which were suicide,
  • the most common disorders found among those who had ADHD as a kid were: substance abuse disorder, antisocial personality disorder, hypomanic episodes, which is similar to bipolar disorder, generalized anxiety, and major depression.

The Director of the ADHD Center at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York, Dr. Mary Solanto, commented on the issue by saying that, “There are a lot of people who have had it [Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder] that learned to cope and deal with it, but in order for that to happen, it’s important to diagnose and treat it as soon as possible.”

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Jared Friedman is quality improvement manager at Sovereign Health Group providing opiate addiction rehab services, other drug rehab services and mental health treatment services.

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