ADHD diagnosis is becoming more common among adults

Millions of adults have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and experts said many others are living undiagnosed.
Millions of adults have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and experts said many others are living undiagnosed.
Published: Oct. 2, 2023 at 7:56 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - For years, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) has been widely considered a condition that primarily affects children and subsides with age.

Over the last two decades, this definition has changed as the number of adults getting diagnosed has increased. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there was an 8% increase in adults who filled a simulant prescription from 2020 to 2021.

Chief of Psychiatry at LeBonheur Children’s Hospital Valerie Arnold said years ago the possibility of ADHD in adults wasn’t even looked into unless the case was extreme.

“People are more comfortable with the fact that ADHD does move into adulthood and that there are medications that do make a difference in people’s lives,” said Arnold.

She said that now more non-psychiatric caregivers are beginning to recognize this as an issue and treat their patients for it.

Lauren Rodgers is one of many people who did not receive an ADHD diagnosis until adulthood.

“I got to the point where my struggles with focus had started affecting my academic performance, and I wasn’t doing what I knew I was capable of doing,” said Rodgers.

She found out she had it and got medicated at the end of her first year of college, but now she recognizes she has shown symptoms since childhood.

“I had always known about ADHD, but in the back of my head, I kind of felt like I didn’t fit certain stereotypes for it,” said Rodgers. “People often kind of make jokes about ADHD as well so I felt like I couldn’t take my own concerns seriously.”

When she did begin ADHD treatment she said she immediately noticed a change.

“Getting a diagnosis for something I struggled with for so long was definitely a game-changer for me,” said Rodgers.

Increased demand for the drugs commonly used for treatment, such as Adderall, has contributed to the nationwide medication shortage that began Oct. 2022.

Rodgers said the shortage made it difficult at times to get her prescription, but she has been able to find alternative medications.

Arnold said it makes a huge difference for people with ADHD to go without medication and she hopes the state will turn to “non-preferred” drugs as a solution to the shortage.