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The lifestyle and economic impact of ADHD is ‘complex and considerable’

ADHD is a common neuropsychiatric disorder associated with children. What happens in adulthood?

Indians marked International Yoga Day at the Red Fort in New Delhi as the country said it would open up free vaccinations to all adults - Copyright AFP/File Money SHARMA
Indians marked International Yoga Day at the Red Fort in New Delhi as the country said it would open up free vaccinations to all adults - Copyright AFP/File Money SHARMA

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (or ADHD) is a medical condition characterized by inattention, impulsiveness, and hyperactivity. This definition is  a generalization and the symptoms vary from person to person and often also include emotional instability. ADHD has genetic associated with environmental causes.

For those with ADHD there are different lifestyle impact factors, which have been identified in some new research papers. There is also a societal and economic cost. Both of these areas demonstrate the importance of managing the identification and support given to those with ADHD at an early age.

Key to this is better testing of children for the condition. Studies have revealed that the introduction of computer simulation to the identification of symptoms in children with ADHD can provide a new and effective mechanism to gauge the presence and severity of behavioral problems.

Societal costs

ADHD carries considerable social and economic costs. For example, researchers from the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute have revealed the key factors that can improve outcomes in children with ADHD, a disorder that costs Australia US$13 billion a year in social and economic losses.

The financial total comprised:

  • Productivity losses (such as absenteeism, presenteeism and reduced employment) at US$6 billion.
  • Health system costs of US$321.1 million.
  • Educational costs of US$74.1 million.
  • Crime and the justice system costs US$215 million.
  • Additional taxes to fund government expenditure on services and programs at US$790.9 million.

Lifestyle impact

A new review of people with high ADHD-traits are less able to perform tasks involving attentional regulation or emotional control after a sleepless night than individuals with low ADHD-traits.

This finding stems from the Karolinska Institutet and it was based on a study involving 180 participants, the results of which appear in the publication Biological Psychiatry: Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuroimaging  and the paper headed “Vulnerability in Executive Functions to Sleep Deprivation Is Predicted by Subclinical Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder Symptoms.”

Addressing both social costs and continuing lifestyle impact are important given that most children diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactive disorder (90 percent) do not outgrow the disorder. ADHD continues to manifest itself in adulthood in different ways and the condition appears to wax and wane over a lifetime.

For impacted adults, such individuals are at higher risk of a wide range of physical conditions, including nervous system, respiratory, musculoskeletal, and metabolic disease. For this reason, care and support are required not only for children but older members of society as well.

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Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, business, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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