Childhood ADHD Linked to Poor Outcomes in Adulthood
Research has found that men diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in childhood have significantly worse functional outcomes as adults compared to men without the disorder.
Since functional outcomes are defined as “the cost of ADHD in terms of real-life adaptations and managing the demands of adulthood”, these findings really emphasize the importance of identifying ADHD symptoms in patients of all ages.
What Research Says
A 33-year follow-up study conducted by investigators at the Child Study Center at New York University Langone Medical Center in New York City showed that men who were diagnosed with ADHD as children had worse educational, occupational, economic, and social outcomes compared with non-ADHD comparison participants.
Led by Rachel G. Klein, PhD, the researchers also found higher rates of divorce, ongoing ADHD, antisocial personality disorder, and substance use disorders as well as more hospitalizations and incarcerations.
“Our findings confirm that men diagnosed with ADHD as children had multiple disadvantages throughout their lifetime,” Dr. Klein said in a statement. “It’s essential that we monitor children with ADHD through adolescence and continue to treat them to help offset issues that can extend into adulthood,” she added.
To examine the long-term outcomes in this patient population, the investigators followed 135 men who were diagnosed with ADHD at a mean age of 8 years and a comparison group of 136 men not diagnosed with childhood ADHD. The average age at follow-up was 41 years.
At 33-year follow-up, results revealed that only 3.7% of affected men had academic degrees higher than high school diplomas, compared with 29.4% of comparator control participants. Further, those with ADHD as children also had lower occupational status levels and relatively poorer socioeconomic status compared with control participants.
Men with Childhood ADHD
Men with childhood ADHD also had higher rates of ongoing ADHD, at 22.2% vs 5.1% for the comparison group. The authors note, however, that ADHD symptoms in the comparison group may have emerged during adulthood.
Both antisocial personality disorder and substance abuse disorder were also more frequent in men with childhood ADHD. However, the groups did not differ in the frequency of ongoing mood or anxiety disorders.
“Difficulties with substance use, academic underachievement, and relationship issues — all of those are already there in adolescence, so it speaks to the importance of addressing these problems in adolescence because they have lifelong consequences,” said Dr. Rostain.
He noted that one of the issues not addressed in the study was how much treatment ADHD men received and what percentage of patients continued treatment at any point in time. In fact, these men were diagnosed in the 1970s, when it was believed stimulants were addictive, so treatment with stimulants was discontinued by the time the children reached adolescence, he noted.
How We Can Help
If you or a loved one is suffering from any of the symptoms of ADD/ADHD, The Amen Clinics Method of integrative psychiatric care can help. Using innovative and personalized care, our outcomes consistently demonstrate improvement for patients – including many who have tried and failed prior treatment.
Our Full Evaluation of your biological/psychological/social/spiritual history, coupled with two brain SPECT imaging scans (at rest and at concentration), cognitive testing, and clinical assessment is designed to address your unique needs and offer targeted treatment options. We invite you to call today at 888-288-9834 or visit us online to schedule a visit.