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ADHD Costs Adults $77 Billion in Lost Income

Adult ADHD Affects Income and Educational Achievement in U.S.

Putting a Price Tag on Adult ADHD continued...

The study showed that adults with ADHD were less likely to have a full-time job (34% vs. 57%) and had a job turnover rate that was twice as high over the last 10 years compared with those without ADHD.

Biederman estimates that ADHD's effect on the ability to hold down a full-time job indirectly accounts for about 17% of the projected $77 billion in annual household income losses due to the disorder.

Researchers also found that adults with ADHD were less likely to finish high school or get a college or graduate degree. But the study showed that even when adults with ADHD had attained the same educational levels as others, they still had lower incomes.

"When you look at the average income by education level, we found that even if you have a graduate degree there was a big difference in what you bring home at the end of the day," says Biederman.

In addition, the study showed that ADHD had a major effect in many other aspects of the participants' lives. Compared with adults who don't have ADHD, those with ADHD:

  • Had higher divorce rates
  • Were more likely abuse alcohol or drugs
  • Were less likely to have a positive self-image or be optimistic
  • Reported lower levels of satisfaction with all aspects of their lives


Early Treatment May Prevent Economic Loss

Although as many as 8 million adults in the U.S. have the symptoms of ADHD, studies show that only about 15% of adults with ADHD are aware of their condition, and only a fraction of those receive treatment.

Experts say early identification and treatment of ADHD in young adults can help prevent some of the most significant effects the disorder can have on their educational achievement.

"Seventy-five percent of millionaires in this country have an undergraduate degree," says David Goodman, MD, assistant professor of psychiatry at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, who also spoke at the briefing. "If you don't finish college because of your ADHD and not being treated, you significantly limit your financial and occupational future."

"That's why it's critical for these folks to be identified so they can reach their maximum potential and improve their quality of life," says Goodman.

While treatment cannot change a person's educational past, researchers say treatment of ADHD at any age can help adults maintain employment and secure their financial future.

But they say biggest problems in treating adult ADHD is getting people to recognize the disorder in themselves.

"In childhood, it's other people who identify the child with ADHD. In adulthood, who is going to identify the adult who spent the last 20 years in this mindset and doesn't have a basis of comparison?" says Goodman. "They don't know that life can be any different. They just figure everybody is chaotic and forgetful, and they don't come into a physician's office and say, 'I have a problem.'"


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