The Accuracy Of Current ADHD Statistics

Updated January 25, 2023by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a condition listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5). Previously separated into ADD or ADHD, the condition now comprises three types: ADHD-PI, ADHD-HI, and ADHD "combined type." In 2020, over 366 million adults worldwide were affected by ADHD symptoms or received a diagnosis.  

Individuals interested in learning more about this condition may wonder if the current statistics on ADHD are accurate and if any new research has emerged. 

How Many People Have ADHD In The US?

In 2015, the CDC came out with a report that stated that the number of adults and children in the US with ADHD was rising steadily. They reported that it had been 7.8% in 2003, 9.5% in 2007, and 11% in 2011. 

There was also a notable disparity regarding gender. In children, boys were close to three times more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD than girls, at a rate of 13.2% to 5.6%. However, women and girls may be affected more than studies suggest. Gender bias may cause women to be diagnosed less often than men in some cases.

ADHD Is Common And Treatable

How Credible Are The Statistics? 

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is often regarded as an authority in reporting facts and figures concerning any medical condition.

Their statistics on the rising rates of ADHD are often considered credible. However, the most recent study on these statistics through their labs was from 2016-2019. 

Is ADHD Only An American Problem? 

There has been some thought among medical professionals going back several decades that ADHD is a more prevalent issue in the United States than elsewhere in the world. Doctors and researchers felt that cultural and societal factors in the US might be to blame for the rise in ADHD.

However, another school of thought is that ADHD is as prevalent in other parts of the world. The ADHD Institute reported an analysis of the World Health Organization's study on the prevalence of adult ADHD diagnoses in different countries. The study found that the following countries diagnosed adults with ADHD more than the US: 

  • Brazil

  • France

  • Ireland 

The US was noted as having a diagnostic rate of around 5.2% for adults. Children in the US are diagnosed more than in other countries.

ADHD Seems To Be Widespread

World Psychiatry came out with a study that suggested ADHD is diagnosed in other countries. It may be more commonly diagnosed in the US due to mental health stigmas in certain cultures.

As ADHD becomes more well-known, doctors may gain more information and diagnose it more frequently. 

Is ADHD Harmful? 

There are numerous ways that ADHD may manifest. Additionally, ADHD can be diagnosed in children and adults. To some, the condition is considered neurodiversity and not a disability.

However, the condition's symptoms may be distressing, confusing, or complex for those living in a society that may not be equipped to handle varying needs and experiences. 

While ADHD is not life-threatening, children who can't concentrate might not retain information at school and struggle to pass tests, learn new concepts, or focus on materials. Adults might have a difficult time holding down jobs or focusing on work. They may have issues with their self-esteem or experience co-occurring conditions like substance use disorder or anxiety. 

Although these symptoms can be distressing, ADHD is treatable in many cases, and assistive technology could benefit those who hope to adapt their environment to fit their needs. Additionally, accommodations are often available at work and in educational settings within the US and some other countries. 

What Causes ADHD?

While studies continue to discuss what might cause ADHD, several factors could play a role. One study shows that ADHD has a hereditary rate of 74% or more, meaning parents may be likely to pass it on to their children. Children might also develop ADHD symptoms from lifestyle or differing needs. In a fast-paced environment, attention span could be lessened, especially as short-form video content and social media become more popular. 

The CDC reports that factors influencing ADHD could include: 

  • Brain injury

  • Exposure to lead

  • Alcohol or tobacco use during pregnancy

  • Premature delivery or low birth weight 

ADHD Is Common And Treatable

What Can Be Done About ADHD? 

Content Warning: Please be advised that the following section mentions prescription medication, abuse of medication, and substance dependency. The information found in the article is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with questions or concerns. 

ADHD is a serious condition. If a child or adult is diagnosed, they may contact their mental health professional or primary care doctor to discuss treatment. Often, an ADHD screening test is done before providing treatment. 

The recommended treatment for ADHD is a combination of medication and behavioral therapy. Several medications on the market are effective in addressing symptoms, and new options may become available in the future. 

If you're considering medication for yourself or your child, search for a doctor or psychiatrist to discuss treatment. Avoid self-medicating or seeking support through other substances, such as alcohol or illicit drugs. These substances may worsen symptoms or cause other mental health concerns. 

Consider Counseling 

Counseling can be highly effective for those living with ADHD symptoms, whether they are an adult or a child. Often, counseling is recommended alongside medication for treatment. If you want to discuss ADHD statistics in more detail or learn more about treating your condition, consider reaching out to a therapist. 

For those with ADHD, driving to an appointment, remembering your meeting date and time, and keeping consistency can feel stressful. If you relate, you might benefit from online counseling. Online therapy allows you to meet at a time that feels best for you from any location with an internet connection. You can choose a type of therapy that helps you best keep focus, such as video, phone, or live chat sessions. Additionally, studies show that internet-based interventions are highly effective in treating ADHD. While therapy may not replace medication, it could be valuable in allowing you to learn coping strategies, discuss your experiences, and gain insight. 

Takeaway

ADHD statistics may constantly change, which is why you might feel unsure whether the statistics you read are accurate. If you want the most up-to-date research and mental health information, consider reaching out to a counselor. Online platforms like BetterHelp for those over 18 or TeenCounseling for those ages 12 to 19 may benefit you or your child. 

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