7 Facts You Need To Know
About ADHD

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  1. ADHD is Real

    Nearly every mainstream medical, psychological, and educational organization in the United States long ago concluded that Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a real, brain-based medical disorder. These organizations also concluded that children and adults with ADHD benefit from appropriate treatment. [1,2,3,4,5,6,7]

  2. ADHD is a Common, Non-Discriminatory Disorder

    ADHD is a non-discriminatory disorder affecting people of every age, gender, IQ, religious and socio-economic background.

    In 2011, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that the percentage of children in the United States who have ever been diagnosed with ADHD is now 9.5%. [8] Boys are diagnosed two to three times as often as girls.

    Among adults, the Harvard/NIMH National Comorbidity Survey Replication found 4.4% percent of adults, ages 18-44 in the United States, experience symptoms and some disability. [9]

    ADHD, AD/HD, and ADD all refer to the same disorder. The only difference is that some people have hyperactivity and some people don’t.

  3. Diagnosing ADHD is a Complex Process

    In order for a diagnosis of ADHD to be considered, the person must exhibit a large number of symptoms, demonstrate significant problems with daily life in several major life areas (work, school, or friends), and have had the symptoms for a minimum of six months.

    To complicate the diagnostic process, many of the symptoms look like extreme forms of normal behavior. Additionally, a number of other conditions resemble ADHD. Therefore, other possible causes of the symptoms must be taken into consideration before reaching a diagnosis of ADHD.

    What makes ADHD different from other conditions is that the symptoms are excessive, pervasive, and persistent. That is, behaviors are more extreme, show up in multiple settings, and continue showing up throughout life.

    No single test will confirm that a person has ADHD. Instead, diagnosticians rely on a variety of tools, the most important of which is information about the person and his or her behavior and environment. If the person meets all of the criteria for ADHD [10,11], he or she will be diagnosed with the disorder.

  4. Other Mental Health Conditions Often Occur Along With ADHD

    • Up to 30% of children and 25-40% of adults with ADHD have a co-existing anxiety disorder. [12]
    • Experts claim that up to 70% of those with ADHD will be treated for depression at some point in their lives. [13]
    • Sleep disorders affect people with ADHD two to three times as often as those without it. [14]
  5. ADHD is Not Benign

    ADHD is not benign.[15] Particularly when the ADHD is undiagnosed and untreated, ADHD contributes to:

    • Problems succeeding in school and successfully graduating. [16,17]
    • Problems at work, lost productivity, and reduced earning power. [18,19,20,21]
    • Problems with relationships. [22,23]
    • More driving citations and accidents. [24,25,26,27]
    • Problems with overeating and obesity. [28,29,30,31]
    • Problems with the law. [32,33]

    According to Dr. Joseph Biederman, professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, ADHD may be one of the costliest medical conditions in the United States: “Evaluating, diagnosing and treating this condition may not only improve the quality of life, but may save billions of dollars every year.” [34]

  6. ADHD is Nobody’s FAULT

    ADHD is NOT caused by moral failure, poor parenting, family problems, poor teachers or schools, too much TV, food allergies, or excess sugar. Instead, research shows that ADHD is both highly genetic (with the majority of ADHD cases having a genetic component), and a brain-based disorder (with the symptoms of ADHD linked to many specific brain areas). [35]

    The factors that appear to increase a child’s likelihood of having the disorder include gender, family history, prenatal risks, environmental toxins, and physical differences in the brain. [36]

  7. ADHD Treatment is Multi-Faceted

    Currently, available treatments focus on reducing the symptoms of ADHD and improving functioning. Treatments include medication, various types of psychotherapy, behavioral interventions, education or training, and educational support. Usually a person with ADHD receives a combination of treatments. [37,38]

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  1. Mental Health: A Report of the Surgeon General, Chapter 3, Section 4: Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. www.surgeongeneral.gov/library/mentalhealth/chapter3/sec4.html
  2. National Institute of Mental Health: Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/attention-deficit-hyperactivity-disorder-adhd/
  3. Center for Disease Control and Prevention: Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/adhd/
  4. U.S Department of Education Research: Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. www2.ed.gov/rschstat/research/pubs/adhd/
  5. American Academy of Pediatrics Children’s Health Topics: ADHD. www.aap.org/healthtopics/adhd.cfm
  6. Phelan, K. (2002). World of Distraction: Adult Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. www.ama-assn.org/amednews/2002/03/18/hlsa0318.htm
  7. American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry: ADHD Resource Center. www.aacap.org/cs/ADHD.ResourceCenter

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  8. Akinbami, L.J., Liu, X., Pastor, P.N., Reuben, C.A. (2011). Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder Among Children Aged 5–17 Years in the United States, 1998–2009. www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db70.htm
  9. National Institute of Mental Health. (2006). Harvard Study Suggests Significant Prevalence of ADHD Symptoms Among Adults. www.nimh.nih.gov/science-news/2006/harvard-study-suggests-significant-prevalence-of-adhd-symptoms-among-adults.shtml

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  10. Center for Disease Control and Prevention: Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder Symptoms and Diagnosis. www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/adhd/diagnosis.html
  11. Searight, H.R., Burke, J.M., Rottnek, F. (2000). Adult ADHD: Evaluation and Treatment in Family Medicine. www.aafp.org/afp/20001101/2077.html

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  12. National Resource Center on ADHD. (2008). What We Know: AD/HD and Coexisting Conditions. www.help4adhd.org/documents/WWK5.pdf
  13. National Resource Center on ADHD. (2008). What We Know: AD/HD and Coexisting Conditions: Depression. www.help4adhd.org/documents/WWK5c.pdf
  14. National Resource Center on ADHD. (2008). What We Know: AD/HD, Sleep, and Sleep Disorders. www.help4adhd.org/documents/WWK5d.pdf

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  15. Barkley, R.A., et al. (2002). International Consensus Statement on ADHD. www.russellbarkley.org/images/Consensus 2002.pdf
  16. Adler, L.A and Cohen, J. (2002). ADHD: Recent Advances in Diagnosis and Treatment. www.medscape.org/viewarticle/443113
  17. Biederman, J., Faraone, S.V. (2006). The Effects of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder on Employment and Household Income. www.medscape.com/viewarticle/536264
  18. Adler, L.A and Cohen, J. (2002). ADHD: Recent Advances in Diagnosis and Treatment. www.medscape.org/viewarticle/443113
  19. Kessler, R. C., Lane, M., Stang, P. E., Van Brunt, D. L. (2009). The Prevalence and Workplace Costs of Adult Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder in a Large Manufacturing Firm. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18423074

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  20. Gjervan, B., Torgersen, T., Nordahl, J M., Rasmussen, K. (2011). Functional Impairment and Occupational Outcome in Adults with ADHD. jad.sagepub.com/content/early/2011/06/29/1087054711413074.abstract
  21. Biederman, J., Faraone, S.V. (2006). The Effects of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder on Employment and Household Income. www.medscape.com/viewarticle/536264
  22. Barkley, R.A., Murphy, K., and Fischer, M. (2007). ADHD in Adults, What the Science Says. New York, NY: Gilford Press.
  23. Biederman, J., et al (2006). Functional Impairments in Adults with Self-reports of Diagnosed ADHD: A Controlled Study of 1001 Adults in the Community. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16669717

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  24. Barkley, R.A., Guevremont, D.C., Anastopoulos, A.D., DuPaul, G.J. & Shelton, T.L. (1993). Driving—Related Risks and Outcomes of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder in Adolescents and Young Adults: A 3- to 5-Year Follow-up Survey. pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/92/2/212.abstract
  25. Barkley, R.A., Murphy, K.R., Kwasnik, D. (1996). Motor Vehicle Driving Competencies and Risks in Teens and Young Adults with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/98/6/1089.abstract
  26. Snyder, J. (2001). ADHD & Driving: A Guide For Parents of Teens with AD/HD. Whitefish, MO: Whitefish Consultants.
  27. Murphy, K. (2006). Driving Risks in Adolescents and Young Adults with ADHD. preview.tinyurl.com/3nkpn7u
  28. Dukarm, C.P. (2006). Pieces of a Puzzle: The Link Between Eating Disorders and ADD. Washington, DC: Advantage Books.
  29. Waring, M.E., and LaPane, K.L. (2008). Overweight in Children and Adolescents in Relation to Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder: Results From a National Sample. pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/122/1/e1.full.pdf

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  30. Pagoto, S.L. et al. (2009). Association Between Adult Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder and Obesity in the US Population. www.nature.com/oby/journal/v17/n3/full/oby2008587a.html
  31. Dempsey, A., Dyhouse, J. and Schafer, J. (2011). The relationship between executive function, AD/HD, overeating, and obesity. wjn.sagepub.com/content/33/5/609.abstract
  32. Quily, P. (2011). Up To 45% 0f Prisoners Have ADHD Studies Show. Crime & Jail Are Costly, Treatment Is Cheap. adultaddstrengths.com/2011/01/12/adhd-and-crime-ignore-now-jail-later-15-clinical-studies/
  33. Biederman, J., et al (2006). Functional Impairments in Adults with Self-reports of Diagnosed ADHD: A Controlled Study of 1001 Adults in the Community. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16669717
  34. Medical News Today. (2005). $77 billion in lost income is attributed to ADHD annually in USA. www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/24988.php

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  35. Barkley, R.A., et al. (2002). International Consensus Statement on ADHD. www.russellbarkley.org/images/Consensus 2002.pdf
  36. American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry: ADHD Resource Center. www.aacap.org/cs/ADHD.ResourceCenter/adhd_faqs

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  37. National Institute of Mental Health: Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/attention-deficit-hyperactivity-disorder/how-is-adhd-treated.shtml
  38. Center for Disease Control and Prevention: Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/adhd/treatment.html

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All citations were retrieved from the Internet September 1, 2011.

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