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Statistics on Adult ADHD: Do the Numbers Tell the Story?

written by: jamesj • edited by: Paul Arnold • updated: 11/23/2010

Adult ADHD statistics show that two to seven percent of the adult population has the condition to some degree. Studies have only begun to research what impact adult adhd has on society and on those who have the condition.

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    Percentages

    People with ADHD may appear lazy or unintelligent. The diagnosis is controversial because there are those who think it is not a condition at all. However, adult ADHD statistics reveal that a significant number of people do have a condition that causes them to be disorganized and unable to focus or pay attention.

    The diagnosis of ADHD in children is relatively common, but there is a growing number of adults being diagnosed as well. Sometimes children grow out of ADHD, but adult ADHD statistics show that between 30 and 50 percent of children diagnosed with the disorder will carry it into adulthood.

    The statistics further demonstrate that seven percent of adults have ADHD. However, many do not know they have it because modern medicine is only beginning to recognize the condition, therefore many cases go unreported.

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    Investigation

    As ADHD receives more attention, more studies are being conducted to try to determine the causes and perhaps to come up with new ways of treating the symptoms. There are four types of basic studies conducted by the Massachusetts General Hospital that demonstrated evidence that ADHD is real and that it is genetic in nature.

    Family studies have determined that it runs in families. If a person has ADHD there is a 25 percent chance someone else in the immediate family will have it too. In the study the control group rate was five percent.

    Adoption studies showed that children resembled their biological parents with regards to ADHD much more than their adoptive parents.

    Twin studies showed that the ADHD trait was shared by 82 percent of identical twins, but only 38 percent in non-identical twins. This is significant because identical twins have exactly the same genetic information.

    Genetic research continues to try to find specific genes and dopamine genes are the focus of current research. The twin studies support the idea of ADHD being genetic, but more research is needed to deliver more answers.

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    More numbers

    Another interesting aspect of ADHD research is that it appears a significantly higher number of boys have ADHD than girls. According to the Center for Disease Control, as many as 13.2 percent of boys in school may have ADHD, while that estimate is at 5.6 percent for girls. This could be because girls have better coping skills at a young age, because scientists have found a larger incidence of ADHD in girls as they get older.

    The CDC also noted that more cases of ADHD are being reported. This may not mean more people have it, but rather that more people are becoming aware of the condition. From 1997 to 2006 there was a three percent increase in cases reported per year. Between 2003 and 2007, that percentage climbed to 22.

    Many of these children will carry the condition into adulthood.

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    Not reported

    Many adults have developed compensation strategies that have allowed them to cope with the condition without ever knowing they have it. The severity may be slight, and not be much of a problem, so they never have any reason to be concerned.

    ADHD only becomes a problem when it disrupts one's life, either in family, work or school settings. This may be one of the reasons that it is controversial, because there are many different levels of ADHD severity.

    There are also some positive aspects to ADHD, such as creativity and being able to focus on many things at once. The opposite of distractibility, which is called hyper-focus, can also be considered a positive in certain situations.

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    Resources

    My ADHD: Massachusetts General Hospital Studies

    Center for Disease Control: ADHD Facts

    Help Guide: ADHD Symptoms