Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a mental disorder that most often occurs in children. Symptoms of ADHD include trouble concentrating, paying attention, staying organized, and remembering details.
It can be a difficult condition to diagnose. Children with untreated ADHD are sometimes mislabeled as troublemakers or problem children. Make sure you know the basic facts and symptoms of ADHD.
5 Fast Facts
- Males are almostÂ three times more likelyÂ to be diagnosed with ADHD than females.
- During their lifetimes,Â 12.9 percent of menÂ will be diagnosed with the attention disorder. Just 4.9 percent of women will be diagnosed.
- TheÂ average ageÂ of ADHD diagnosis is 7 years old.
- Symptoms of ADHD typically first appear between theÂ ages of 3 and 6.
- ADHD isnâ€™t just a childhood disorder. Today, aboutÂ 4 percent of American adultsÂ over the age of 18 deal with ADHD on a daily basis.
There are demographic factors that impact the risks of being diagnosed with ADHD. Children living in households where English is the main language areÂ more than four times as likelyÂ to be diagnosed as children living in households where English is the second language. And children living in households that make less thanÂ two times the federal poverty levelÂ have a higher risk than children from higher-income households.
Certain conditions might affect certain races in different ways, but ADHD impacts children of all races. From 2001 to 2010, the rate of ADHD among non-Hispanic black girlsÂ increased 90 percent.
ADHD affectsÂ children of all races, including:
- whites: 9.8%
- blacks: 9.5%
- Latinos: 5.5%
Children are also diagnosed at different ages. Detecting symptoms differs from case to case, and the more severe, the earlier the diagnosis.
- 8 years old: average age of diagnosis for children withÂ mildÂ ADHD
- 7 years old: average age of diagnosis for children withÂ moderateÂ ADHD
- 5 years old: average age of diagnosis for children withÂ severeÂ ADHD
On The Rise
Cases and diagnoses of ADHD have been increasing dramatically in the past few years. The American Psychiatric Association (APA) says thatÂ 5 percent of American childrenÂ have ADHD. But the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) puts the number at more than double the APAâ€™s number. The CDC says thatÂ 11 percent of American children, ages 4 to 17, have the attention disorder. Â Thatâ€™s an increase ofÂ 42 percent in just eight years.
- 2003: 7.8%
- 2007: 9.5%
- 2011: 11 %
An estimatedÂ 6.4 million American childrenÂ ages 4-17 have been diagnosed with ADHD. The incidence of ADHD is higher in some states than others. Generally, states in the Western parts of the United States have the lowest rates of ADHD. Nevada has the lowest rates. States in the Midwest seem to have the highest rates. Kentucky has the highest rates.
- Nevada: 4.2%
- New Jersey: 5.5%
- Colorado, 5.6%
- Utah: 5.8%
- California: 5.9%
- Kentucky: 14.8%
- Arkansas: 14.6%
- Louisiana: 13.3%
- Indiana: 13.0%
- Delaware and South Carolina: 11.7%
Currently,Â 6.1 percent of all American childrenÂ are being treated for ADHD with medication. Some states have higher rates of treatment with medication than others.Â One in five American childrenÂ who has been diagnosed with ADHD is not receiving medicine or mental health counseling for their disorder.
- Nevada: 2%
- Hawaii: 3.2%
- California: 3.3%
- Alaska, New Jersey, and Utah: 3.5%
- Colorado: 3.6%
- Louisiana: 10.4%
- Kentucky: 10.1%
- Indiana and Arkansas: 9.9%
- North Carolina: 9.4%
- Iowa: 9.2%
ADHD & Other Conditions
ADHD doesnâ€™t increase a personâ€™s risk for other conditions or diseases. But some people with ADHD â€” especially children â€” are more likely to experience a range of co-existing conditions. They can sometimes make social situations more difficult or school more challenging.
Some co-existing conditions include:
- learning disabilities
- conduct disorders and difficulties, including antisocial behavior, fighting, and oppositional defiant disorder
- anxiety disorder
- bipolar disorder
- Touretteâ€™s syndrome
- substance abuse
- bed-wetting problems
- sleep disorders
Cost is a major factor when it comes to how a condition affects someone. Treatment plans and medications can be expensive, and planning around payment can be stressful. A study from 2007 claimed that the â€œcost of illnessâ€ for a person with ADHD is $14,576 each year. That means ADHD costs Americans $42.5 billion dollars each year â€” and thatâ€™s on the conservative side of ADHD prevalence estimates.
Medicines and treatments arenâ€™t the only costs to consider when dealing with an ADHD diagnosis. Other factors that can make a dent in your pocketbook include:
- education expenses
- loss of work
- juvenile justice
- healthcare costs
Boys and girls can display very different ADHD symptoms, and boys are much more likely to be diagnosed with the attention disorder. Why? Itâ€™s possible the nature of ADHD symptoms in boys makes their condition more noticeable than it is in girls.
Boys tend to display externalized symptoms that most people think of when they think of ADHD behavior, for example:
- impulsivity or â€œacting outâ€
- hyperactivity, such as running and hitting
- lack of focus, including inattentiveness
- physical aggression
ADHD in girls is often easy to overlook because itâ€™s not â€œtypicalâ€ ADHD behavior. The symptoms arenâ€™t as obvious as they are in boys. They can include:
- being withdrawn
- low self-esteem and anxiety
- impairment in attention that may lead to difficulty with academic achievement
- inattentiveness or a tendency to â€œdaydreamâ€
- verbal aggression: teasing, taunting, or name-calling