Who Is Affected by Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
Estimates vary about how many people are affected by attention
deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The accepted standard for diagnosing ADHD is the DSM-IV
criteria from the American Psychiatric Association.1 A
child's dominant symptoms (inattention, impulsiveness, and/or hyperactivity)
are determined and categorized. The condition affects about 3% to 7% of all
school-age children in the United States.1
Boys are diagnosed with ADHD more often than
girls, with a varying ratio of 2:1 to 9:1 depending on the specific
Inattention is the most common
type of ADHD diagnosed in girls. This type is the least likely of the three to
be noticed in the early school years. It may not be detected until late
childhood.1 Many girls may not be diagnosed and
properly treated for the disorder until later in life.
It is not
clear how many adults are affected by ADHD. However, overall estimates are that
about half of children with ADHD continue to have symptoms
into adulthood.2 More research is needed in this
In addition, more research is needed to determine how many preschool
children and adolescents are affected by ADHD.3
When Amanda, 30, was diagnosed with ADHD five years ago, she began to understand the risk-taking that had marked her teens and twenties: the drug abuse, binge drinking, and casual sex with numerous men who had flirted with her in bars.
She couldn’t put the brakes on those intensely exciting experiences, but she also despaired that her life was out of control. “Before I was diagnosed, I was depressed a lot because I just didn’t understand what was wrong,” says the Baltimore resident, whose last...
American Psychiatric Association (2000).
Attention-deficit and disruptive behavior disorders. In Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th
ed., text rev., pp. 85-103. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric
McGough JJ (2005). Adult manifestations of
attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder section of Attention-deficit
disorders. In BJ Sadock, VA Sadock, eds., Kaplan and Sadock's Comprehensive Textbook of Psychiatry, 8th ed., vol. 2, pp. 3198-3204.
Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.
Brown RT, et al. (2001). Prevalence and assessment of
attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder in primary care settings.
Pediatrics, 107(3): 1-11.
Primary Medical Reviewer
John Pope, MD - Pediatrics
Specialist Medical Reviewer
Thomas Emmett Francoeur, MDCM, CSPQ, FRCPC - Pediatrics
April 12, 2010
WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise
April 12, 2010
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