ADHD – incidence in middle aged Australians


Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is the most prevalent childhood psychiatric condition. It frequently persists into adulthood and can have serious health and other adverse consequences. The majority of previous adult ADHD studies have focused on young adults so that relatively little is known about ADHD symptoms and their effects in mid and late life. In addition, effects of subclinical levels of attention deficit and hyperactivity have not been studied in detail. In this study we investigated ADHD symptoms and related impairment in a large population-based sample of middle-aged Australian adults (n = 2091; 47% male). Applying the WHO adult ADHD Self Report Screener (ASRS) we observed that 6.2% of participants had scores that were previously associated with ADHD diagnosis. No significant gender difference in the distribution of ASRS scores was observed. Multiple regression analyses indicated strong positive correlations between symptoms of ADHD and depression/anxiety and significant negative associations (p<0.01) with employment, financial stress, relationship quality, health and well-being measures in this age group. Importantly, associations were highly significant even when few ADHD symptoms were reported. Compared to the hyperactivity component, the inattention trait was particularly strongly associated and remained significant after controlling for depression/anxiety symptoms. Our study confirms previous findings and significantly adds to existing literature especially for an age-group that has not been well-studied. Our results suggest that ADHD symptoms continue to be associated with ill-health and functional impairment in mid-life and are, therefore, likely to be a major, previously unrecognized source of late-life morbidity with associated social and economic costs. Thus, there is a compelling need for better understanding and development of age-appropriate approaches to the diagnosis and treatment of ADHD in mid- to late-life.
It puts the rate of diagnosable ADHD in middle aged Australian adults at 6.2%

Given figures from Prof Alisdair Vance at the Children’s Hospital that only 5% of ADHD individuals fully resolve their condition this would suggest that there are about another 3% of that population who are sitting just below diagnostic threshold.
My experience with ADHD adults would suggest that these individuals are simply “in remission” and that all they need is another crisis to push them back into active ADHD symptomatology.

The rate of diagnosis in adults in Australia is, of course much lower than that.

Equally the evidence linking untreated ADHD to really poor life outcomes (psychiatric comorbidity, suicide, accidents, poor occupational and financial outcomes, social isolation, marital failure, drug abuse and greatly increased risk of criminal offending) has been clear since at least the 2002 International Consensus statement on ADHD.

Given the low rate of diagnosis it is clear that the prevailing culture of skepticism about ADHD, and the failure to diagnose, represents a major failing of our health education systems, and nothing less than institutionally approved negligence.

I have long argued that it is time a clean sweep was made of most of the major academic appointments within the psychiatry departments of most Australian medical schools- and this is about all the evidence needed to support that argument.

I find it particularly disturbing that organisations like”Beyond Blue” and “The Black Dog Institute” completely fail to mention ADHD in their online material. They are supposed to be up to date with the science.

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2 Responses to ADHD – incidence in middle aged Australians

  1. michelen7 says:

    I have actually found the older I have become, the worse my ADHD symptoms have become, especially in the last 12 yrs since I hit my 40’s. During that time, I have also been on anti-depressants and after watching a video by Dr Charles Parker where he explains the problems with SSRI/SSNI’s raising the serotonin levels and lowering the dopamine – is a big problem with ADHD patients and creates greater cognitive issues.

    Sadly, after finally getting myself back to a new Psychiatrist (who dealt with ADHD) to deal with my issues and hopefully be able to be prescribed meds once again to balance out my serotonin and dopamine levels and enable me to able to function properly once again or at least trial to test it – I discovered that due to a gap of 12 yrs between my last script, that it’s not a good idea for someone my age to be put on it and it doesn’t matter that I had previously been prescribed them and they worked but due to 2 other medications, which also caused dry mouth, I couldn’t tolerate the dryness and that was the only reason…..nope….see how I go for the next 5 yrs. Asking just to be able to take when driving to keep me focused and not so easily distracted was not a consideration – simply don’t drive. Very, very depressing.

    • MindBody says:

      THe problem is that we have all been barking up the wrong tree.
      The real issue with ADHD generally lies in underfucntion in particluar loops in the frontostrial and cerebellocortical regions.
      In most cases these are driven by the dysafferentation caused by upper neck malalignment. The most problematic one involves the loop starting with impaction of the C3 facet on the C2 facet and consequent ipsilateral cerebellar suppression. This results in lack of drive to tht contralateral cerebral hemisphere and in failure of visual convergence. Both of these outcomes produce feedback which worsen the neck problems.
      So the problems get worse as we age and our posture and eyesight deteriorates.

      chiropractic, functional neurological rehab and Tai Chi have done more than reverse that problem, but I am still physically fragile.

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