Attention deficit hyperactivity (ADHD) has been studied at length in children, but less so in adults. All of the existing research suggests that individuals with ADHD are more likely to have emotional, behavioral, social, and even functional difficulties than people without ADHD. It has been shown that ADHD in childhood can negatively impact academic performance, behavior, and social relationships. Even parent-child attachments can experience immense strain as a result of ADHD. But less is known about the long term effects of ADHD. Specifically, the emotional, behavioral, social, and functional effects of ADHD in adulthood have only been minimally examined and even then, only for short periods of time. To get a clearer picture of exactly how ADHD affects adults throughout their adulthood, Judith S. Brook of the Department of Psychiatry at the New York University School of Medicine recently conducted an analysis of data collected over a period of 23 years.
The data was gathered from the Children and Adults in the Community study, which assessed ADHD children several times from adolescence to adulthood. Brook took that information, covering participants’ ages from childhood through their late 30s, and evaluated how ADHD had affected their internal stress, via mental health, physical health, and antisocial personality behaviors (ASPD) and their external stress via work and financial strain. After assessing data from over 500 participants, Brook found that ADHD was directly responsible for increased internal and external stress. In fact, the participants in the study had much higher rates of mental and physical impairment when compared to non-ADHD participants. Also, despite the level of income achieved by the ADHD participants, they still experienced elevated financial strain. This could be due to the impulsivity associated with ADHD, resulting in less financial planning and forecasting.
Another interesting finding was the relationship between ASPD and ADHD. In particular, Brook found that the participants with negative parental attachments in childhood had a higher risk of developing ASPD tendencies. This result emphasizes the importance of securing and strengthening a healthy parent-child bond in spite of the stress of ADHD. It is imperative for parents to find ways to help their children overcome social, emotional, and behavioral obstacles in childhood so that they can more easily transition to adulthood with ADHD. Brook added, “In addition, future research will profit from examining the mechanisms that operate between ADHD and internal and external stress.”
Brook, Judith S., et al. (2013). Adolescent ADHD and adult physical and mental health, work performance, and financial stress. Pediatrics 131.1 (2013): 5-13. Print.
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