Friday 22 March 2013

ADHD Increases Risk of Mental Illness in Adulthood

A 20 year long study conducted by Mayo Clinic published recently showed that not only did symptoms of ADHD persist into adulthood, children with ADHD were also much more likely to be diagnosed with other psychiatric illnesses as adults.

In this study, the researchers followed a cohort of 5718 children born between 1976 and 1982. Within the cohort, 367 were diagnosed with ADHD and 75% received treatment for ADHD as children. 29.3% of the children with ADHD were later found to still have the disorder in adulthood and within this group of children, 81% had at least one other psychiatric condition. The concomitant conditions they had included major depression, generalized anxiety, hypomanic episodes, substance abuse and antisocial personality disorder. Also 57% of all children with ADHD had another psychiatric disorder as adults compared to 35% in the control group. The study also showed that suicide rate amongst ADHD children was five times higher than those without the disorder.

These data are no doubt disturbing and brings to the table stronger evidence to what doctors and psychiatrists have long suspected and observed anecdotally about ADHD. The evidences indicate that ADHD is an illness with serious consequences, morbidity and mortality. Starting treatment young will help the children cope with the hyperactive, inattentive and impulsive symptoms, preventing the eventual pathways leading to other serious mental illnesses, personality disorders and suicide. Treatment into adulthood is often necessary and doctors must be vigilant in assessing and picking up co-morbid psychiatric illnesses.

ADHD is by far the most common neuro-developmental condition in children. It should not be trivialised and ignored as it progresses into long term difficulties for the individual. Seek help today!