Adult ADHD Underdiagnosed

a little boy with a doctors coat on and a toys

The Problem

The Criteria used is based on diagnosing ADHD in school-aged childern not Adults.

The criteria used to diagnose adult ADHD are outdated, and as a result, many cases could be missed or misdiagnosed. The problem, says James J. McGough, MD, is that the criteria are based in large part on diagnosing attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in school-aged children. These may not be the right criteria for identifying adults.

1 figure standing out of a group of 25 figures

1 in 25

Can you name an Adult with ADHD? You Should be able to because 1 in 25 people suffer from ADHD

ADHD afflicts about 3% to 5% of school-age children; in 30% to 60% of them, the disorder will persist into adulthood. Overall, more than four in 100 U.S. adults have the disorder, according to McGough a professor clinical psychiatry at the UCLA Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior.

a big red x hovers over a disorganized of spread out charts

For Starters, They're Wrong

The stated age of onset inattentive behavior isn't based on clinical evidence

For starters, they state that patients should shows signs of hyperactivity, impulsivity, or inattentive behavior before age 7, he says. That's extremely impractical and not based on clinical evidence. Research suggests that the age of onset should be changed to age 16 or 18 years, or abandoned entirely,

a man stars out the window as he sits on a patients table waiting for the doctor

Wrong Symptoms

Better criteria might be frequently driving too fast or having trouble making appointments

Also, many symptoms used to diagnose the disease don't apply to adults, he says. For example, one hallmark symptom is "running and climbing incessantly. For adults, better criteria might be frequently driving too fast or having trouble making appointments,

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Temple University

Even some of our doctors don't realize they have ADHD.

Temple University's David Baron, DO, chairman of the committee that chose which studies to highlight at the meeting, says many adults -- and their doctors -- don't realize they have ADHD.

a person trys their best not to cry as they shrug their shoulders

Dismiss It

People don't label it. They say "Oh, I've been this way since the second grade."

Many other psychiatric disorders such as anxiety and depression come and go, but ADHD is more of a constant. Because of that, people don't label it. Or they dismiss it. They say, 'Oh, I've been this way since the second grade.'

"I think adult ADHD is underdiagnosed," --Temple University's David Baron, DO, chairman

"That anyone who suffers from symptoms of ADHD should be checked out by a health care professional with training in the field.

The good news:

Once the diagnosis is made, the same drugs used to treat children with ADHD are very effective in adults, he says. "The drug therapies available now will not just improve symptoms, but also quality of life," Baron says.