What happens when children with ADHD grow up? According to a report out of Germany’s Central Institute of Mental Health, the majority of them remain undiagnosed and untreated. In approximately two-thirds of people who have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), the condition persists into adulthood. Around three to four percent of adults have ADHD, but few receive diagnosis or treatment.
Research by Dr. Esther Sobanski of the Department of Psychiatry and Psychology at Manheim, Germany’s Central Institute of Mental Health indicates that despite the prevalence rate of ADHD in adults, only 0.5% receive diagnosis. This indicates that most adults with ADHD are not being diagnosed and suggests that they are also not receiving appropriate treatments for the disorder.
ADHD manifests differently in adults than in children. It can affect peer-group relationships, cause parenting difficulties, and inhibit work or academic performance. Adults with ADHD also tend to exercise unsafe driving habits and they may be accident-prone in their daily lives. Furthermore, there are associated symptoms that are exhibited as problems in emotional regulation, sleep disturbances, low self-esteem, and more.
Medication can help with ADHD’s core symptoms—improving psychological functioning, driving, or parenting—and it can improve associated symptoms like sleep problems and emotional regulation, according to Sobanski’s research.
Guidelines for the treatment of adult ADHD recommend a mutli-modal approach that includes psycho-education, pharmacotherapy, disorder-oriented psychotherapy, and occupational rehabilitation. Pharmacotherapy has been proven by research to be effective. Mounting evidence has demonstrated the utility of disorder-oriented psychotherapy for residual symptoms. Despite the availability of effective treatments, many adults with ADHD are untreated.
According to Dr. Sobanski, “New pharmacological treatment approaches not only target ADHD core symptoms but also co-morbid psychiatric disorders like alcohol use or social phobia … available data from a cross national suggest that most adults with ADHD in Europe are untreated.”
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