There is no doubt that childhood symptoms of ADHD — inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsiveness — often persist into adulthood. Researchers say that, in fact, nearly 30% of adults who were diagnosed with ADHD in childhood have persistent symptoms as adults. While that’s not surprising, a new study in Pediatrics finds a more worrisome problem: more than half (57%) of adults with ADHD also had mental health issues such as alcohol and substance abuse, anxiety, and depression. Leslie Wade has a jarring statistic:
Suicide rates were nearly five times higher in adults who had childhood ADHD compared to those who did not, according to the study. Researchers aren’t exactly sure why; they speculate that problems associated with childhood ADHD, such as lower academic achievement and social isolation, make people more prone to life issues as adults.
For years, parents worried that taking stimulants such as Ritalin or Adderall would predispose their children to substance abuse and law-breaking when they got older. But it’s not the medication that’s responsible for that. Rather, it’s the impulsiveness that is so prominent in children and adults with ADHD:
Living with ADHD can be challenging. The disorder often makes it more difficult for school children to pay attention in class. They may be more fidgety, hyperactive, and often act before they think things through, experts say. Their grades can suffer, and they tend to have trouble getting along with their peers.
As they grow up, people with ADHD are may be underemployed and are more inclined to have problems and accidents on the job, says Dr. Russell Barkley, clinical professor of psychiatry and pediatrics at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston.
Relationship and marital issues are not uncommon and they more likely to have substance abuse issues and higher arrest rates than those who do not have ADHD as a child, says Barkley. All of these troubles over time can lead to depression.
“We have known that ADHD predisposes people to depression. And the longer (ADHD) persists, the greater the likelihood someone with ADHD could develop depression or an anxiety disorder,” says Barkley. “But what triggers these [suicide] attempts is more the impulsivity of ADHD.”
Read article at CNN.com here.
Read study in Pediatrics here.