ADHD is often thought of as a childhood disorder. Although it may only affect some people during childhood, it continues to affect many into adulthood. Several studies have looked at the long-term effects of ADHD. One of the most recent ones gives us a look not just at the persistence of ADHD, but also at its effects on those who suffered from the disorder as children.
The Wall Street Journal ran a story last Sunday which reports the results a new study of adults who were diagnosed with ADHD as children. That study compared the incarceration rates, mortality rates, and incidents of other psychiatric disorders in adults who had been diagnosed with ADHD as children to adults from the same age group who had not been diagnosed. The adults with childhood ADHD were at greater risk of suffering from ADHD as adults but were also at greater risk of incarceration, and over three-quarters of those with adult ADHD were found to be suffering from at least one other mental disorder while fewer than half of those without adult ADHD (whether or not they had ADHD as children) had additional diagnoses.
Similar results were found in an earlier study that compared men who were diagnosed with ADHD as boys to men who had not. That study found that those who had been diagnosed were less likely to have a high school diplomas or college degrees. They were less likely to be employed, and those who were employed were making less money on average than those who did not have ADHD in childhood. They also had less successful marriage and were more likely to abuse drugs.
The authors of that study recommend continued monitoring of children diagnosed with ADHD, and Dr. William Barbassi, an author of the recent study mentioned in the Wall Street Journal recommends that children with ADHD be evaluated for other conditions.
Finally, an even earlier study found that children diagnosed with ADHD who received long-term follow-up care had better outcomes, regardless of the kind of treatment received.
The results of this and other research suggest that if you were diagnosed with ADHD as a child, further assessment and care may be wise, even if you no longer have apparent symptoms.