Mount Laurel, NJ, December 17, 2007 – 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.”
Approximately 7.8 percent of all school-age children, or about 4.4 million U.S. children aged 4 to 17 years, have been diagnosed with ADHD at some point in their lives, according to the CDC. ADHD is one of the most common psychiatric disorders in children and adolescents. The disorder is also estimated to affect 8.1 percent of adults, or approximately 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. ADHD is a neurological brain disorder that manifests as a persistent pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity that is more frequent and severe than is typically observed in individuals at a comparable level of development. To be properly diagnosed with ADHD, a child needs to demonstrate at least six of nine symptoms of inattention; and/or at least six of nine symptoms of hyperactivity/impulsivity; the onset of which appears before age 7 years; that some impairment from the symptoms is present in two or more settings (e.g., at school and home); that the symptoms continue for at least six months; and that there is clinically significant impairment in social, academic or occupational functioning and the symptoms cannot be better explained by another psychiatric disorder.
Although there is no "cure" for ADHD, there are accepted treatments that specifically target its symptoms. The most common standard treatments include educational approaches, psychological or behavioral modification, and medication.
Shire provided financial support for Dr. Barkley’s national speaking tour.
About Dr. Russell Barkley
Dr. Russell A. Barkley is a clinical scientist, educator and practitioner who has authored, co-authored, or co-edited 20 books and clinical manuals and published more than 200 scientific articles related to the treatment of ADHD and related disorders. He has also received numerous awards over his career for his work in ADHD and the field of psychology. He worked in the Child Neurology Division at Milwaukee Children’s Hospital and founded the Neuropsychology Service at Medical College of Wisconsin. Dr. Barkley also served as the Director of Psychology and as a Professor of Psychiatry and Neurology at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. He also works as a Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the Medical University of South Carolina and is on the faculty of the Department of Psychiatry at the SUNY Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, NY.
The Attention Deficit Disorder Association (ADDA) is a nonprofit organization working to provide information, resources and networking to help adults with AD/HD lead better lives. ADDA generates hope, awareness, empowerment and connections worldwide in the field of AD/HD by bringing together science and the human experience for adults living with ADHD and the professionals who serve them. For information visit: www.add.org.