Adolescent ADHD has major negative effect on adult functioning

March 1, 2013

Investigators studied the relationship of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in adolescence and adult physical and mental health, work performance, and financial stress.

Investigators studied the relationship of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in adolescence and adult physical and mental health, work performance, and financial stress.

Using structured interviews and questionnaires, researchers made baseline assessments of psychiatric disorders, including ADHD and conduct disorder, in children aged between 14 and 16 years whose mothers had reported problem behaviors when their children were younger. The longitudinal study, which encompassed a total of 34 years, continued with 5 successive outcome assessments. The final analysis was based on data for the 551 participants who were assessed for ADHD at mean ages of 14 and 16 and who were included in the final assessment at a mean age of 37.

Adolescent ADHD was found to be associated with a variety of internal and external stresses in adulthood. In their late 30s, those with the diagnosis were 3 times more likely than those who had no ADHD in the earlier assessments to have antisocial personality disorder and high financial stress and a higher likelihood of having more impairments in general physical health, general mental health, and work performance. These differences remained after controlling for possible confounding factors, such as sociodemographic factors, cigarette smoking, and marijuana use (Brook JS, et al. Pediatrics. 2013;131[1]:5-13).

Commentary

The consequences of ADHD reach well beyond the classroom. I hope that diagnosis, treatment, and long-term follow-up of adolescent ADHD can avert these negative outcomes in adulthood. Further studies are needed to measure the effect of these interventions.