How Much Money Is Untreated ADD/ADHD Costing You?

This is How Much Money You Lose from Having ADD/ADHD

You may think that seeking treatment for a learning issue or mental health issues, such as attention-deficit disorder (ADD) or attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), is the biggest expense associated with the condition. But the total cost is so much higher. New research from researchers in Denmark shows just how much of an impact ADD/ADHD can have on your wallet. And it isn’t just the individual with the condition who is affected. The money drain also hits their spouses and long-term partners.


The 2020 study in European Neuropsychopharmacology calculated the direct and indirect costs associated with people who have ADD/ADHD compared with people who don’t have the disorder. For the study, they looked at 83,613 individuals with ADD/ADHD and 334,446 people without it. They also compared the costs for 18,959 partners of people who have ADD/ADHD with 74,032 control partners.

The astonishing results show the real costs of having ADD/ADHD:

  • The average annual healthcare costs for people with ADD/ADHD and their partners were 2,636 euros (about $3,018) higher than those of people without the condition.
  • Partners of people with the condition shelled out an additional 477 euros ($546) for healthcare compared with controls.
  • People with ADD/ADHD earned less income compared with controls.
  • People with the learning disorder and their partners were more likely to receive sick pay or disability pension.

Add it all up and the additional direct and indirect costs amounted to 23,072 euros ($26,410) for those with ADD/ADHD and 7,997 euros ($9,154) for their partners.

Other studies have found that adults with ADD/ADHD earn $5,000-$10,000 less per year than their colleagues. That’s bad news for the 4.4% of U.S. adults diagnosed with the disorder and the millions more who have it but don’t know it, as ADD/ADHD remains vastly underdiagnosed, especially in adults.


ADD/ADHD impacts all aspects of life, including your career. It can be both positive and negative in the workplace. On the positive side, people with ADD/ADHD often are high in energy, enthusiastic, full of ideas, creative and they often have bursts of energy. If they surround themselves with people who organize them and manage the details, they can be very successful. Unfortunately, many people with this disorder are not that lucky and they often have serious problems at work.

Here are some of the difficulties that people with ADD/ADHD are likely to have at work that can ultimately affect your bottom line:

1. The harder they try, the worse it gets

Brain imaging studies at Amen Clinics, which has the world’s largest database of functional brain scans related to behavior, show that the more these people try to concentrate the worse it gets for them. Their brain actually turns off, rather than turning on. When a supervisor or manager puts more pressure on them to perform, they often fall off in their work. The boss then interprets this decreased performance as willful misconduct and serious problems arise. In supervising someone with ADD/ADHD, it is much more effective to use praise and encouragement, rather than pressure.

2. Distractibility

Distractibility is often evident in meetings. People with attention problems tend to look around the room, drift off, appear bored, forget where the conversation is going, and interrupt with extraneous information. The distractibility and short attention span is commonly seen in ADD/ADHD may also cause them to take much longer to complete their work than their co-workers. They are often very frustrating to managers and co-workers.

3. Forgetfulness

Forgetfulness is common in ADD/ADHD and a serious handicap on the job. Missed deadlines, forgotten reports, and steps have gone undone on a job are just a few examples.

4. Impulsivity

Often, a lack of impulse control, which is common in this condition, gets the ADD/ADHD person fired. They may say inappropriate things to supervisors, other employees, or customers. Poorly thought out decisions also relate to impulsivity. Rather than thinking a problem through, these people want an immediate solution to the problem and act without the necessary forethought. In a similar vein, the impulsivity causes these people to have trouble going through the established channels at work. They often go right to the top to solve problems, rather than working through the system. This may cause resentment from co-workers and immediate supervisors. Impulsivity also may lead to such problem behaviors as lying and stealing.

5. Conflict seeking

Many people with ADD/ADHD are in constant turmoil with one or more people at work. They seem to “unconsciously” single out people who are vulnerable and begin to pick verbal battles with them. They also have a tendency to embarrass others, which does not endear them to anyone. Shades of the grown-up version of the class clown are also evident at work, such as cracking inappropriate jokes in meetings. Conflict may follow the ADD/ADHD person from job to job.

6. Disorganization

Disorganization is a hallmark of ADD/ADHD. Often when you look at the person’s work area, it is a wonder they can work in it at all. They tend to have many piles of stuff; paperwork is often hard for them to keep straight; they seem to have a filing system that only they can figure out (and only on good days).

7. Late to work

Many people with ADD/ADHD are chronically late to work because they have significant problems waking up in the morning. They also tend to lose track of time, which contributes to their lateness.

8. Start many projects but finish few

The energy and enthusiasm of people with ADD often push them to start many projects. Unfortunately, their distractibility and short attention span impair their ability to complete them.

9. Tendency toward addictions

People with ADD/ADHD have a tendency toward addictions, such as food, alcohol, drugs, and even work. Drug or alcohol addictions cause obvious work problems. Food addictions cause health and self-image problems that can impact work. Addiction to work is also a serious problem because it causes burnout and family problems that eventually show up as problems at work.

When ADD/ADHD is left untreated, it also costs employers millions of dollars every year in decreased productivity, absenteeism, and employee conflicts.

ADD/ADHD, anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues can’t wait. During these uncertain times, your mental well-being is more important than ever and waiting until life gets back to “normal” is likely to make your symptoms worsen over time.

At Amen Clinics, we’re here for you. We offer in-clinic brain scanning and appointments, as well as mental telehealth, remote clinical evaluations, and video therapy for adults, children, and couples. Find out more by speaking to a specialist today at 888-288-9834. If all our specialists are busy helping others, you can also schedule a time to talk.


  1. I am retired and was told by my primary care doctor that I needed to stop denying i have dementia – my first recollection of being told that! I have issues with 1,2,3,6 and 8 and either no problem or control over the rest. I have had what seems to be chronic fatigue for many years going on and off all the drugs for ADD/ADHD, depression etc. with no effect. I was recently put on Sunosi. It has given me my life back but only about 30%

    But, I’ll take it. I have watched your operation and believe in what you are doing and have longed to be able to come for an evaluation but do not have the funds to do so. I am just about 79 years old and so it seems like I should just allow myself to shut down. But, I have a very alert wonderful wife with big health problems and I need to be able to take care of her as she becomes less able. She is diabetic and on bi-weekly transfusions of immunoglobulin, insulin injections for many years and other serious issues.

    I had a problem like you describe in No. 1 above where I was being ‘eased’ out of a job about 22 years ago where I had been reviewed with high marks a few months earlier and was on track to save the organization millions of dollars in projects being worked on. But, I was being replaced by one of my employees for political favor and they needed cause so gave me frivolous or impossible work in impossible quantities and then wrote me up for non compliance. I became so anxious, I felt like a big electric motor that had the power to it but the shaft was frozen or seized up and all I had in my head was a loud energetic but powerless HUMM!

    We lost a 5 bedroom English Tudor home, 10 years worth of work up to a good retirement and a good paying job at an age when (in technology) there isn’t as much need for older employees. So, I barely squeaked through some menial jobs until I could qualify for Social Security.

    I am always busy – very, but not getting the important things done. I didn’t feel like I had diminished mental capacity, but now I’m feeling like I might. By noon, my body and mind are coming down off of the early morning Sunosi dose (150mg) and I start to feel anxious and depleted. I push but have to give in to laying down but can’t sleep – ever. But I can’t do anything either so I just lay there with racing thoughts. At about 3 or so, I take generic Furocet (I have problems with tough sciatic pain in both legs because of back problems and headaches) that get me through to about 5:30 or 6 when I take a Xanax which I take to go to sleep but take earlier now to help with the helpless anxious feelings.

    I am on CPAP but sleep pretty well with Tylenol PM and Melatonin.
    Oh, and I can’t take many pain drugs because I had a cancerous kidney removed a couple of years ago so I am on pain management with steroid injections every 3 months which rarely do any good and 2 Hydrocodone a day. I don’t always take both, I try not to unless I’m really really hurting.

    Besides being not to well off, we have a very large monthly medical outlay.


    Comment by Grant Collier — August 12, 2020 @ 7:43 AM

  2. interesting topic!

    Comment by Doug Morris — November 2, 2023 @ 2:32 PM

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