Almost three quarters (72%) of people who had ADHD in childhood continue to have this disorder in adulthood. Adults with ADHD often have problems in daily functioning. They also suffer more mental disorders than people without ADHD.
These are the findings of NEMESIS-2, a representative study of the mental health of adults in the general population. The research was conducted by the Trimbos Institute, on behalf of the Ministry for Health, Welfare and Sport. It was found that adults with ADHD are 5 time ore likely to suffer from depression; 9 times more likely to suffer from a panic disorder; and 10 times more likely to have a drug disorder. They also have more problems at work or in other occupations, which is reflected in over 38 sick-days per year. Remarkably, only a quarter of adults with ADHD receive treatment for their problems.
Behavioural disorders and anti-social personality disorder
The study shows that behavioural disorders in childhood are often precursors of other problems in adulthood. Adults who had a behavioural disorder in childhood were over 5 times more likely to have had another mental disorder in the past year than those without a childhood behavioural disorder. Likewise, anti-social personality disorder is often accompanied by other mental disorders, particularly addiction to alcohol or drugs.
Implications for Policy
The study demonstrates the need for greater focus by both general and mental health care on ADHD in adults. The aim should be to improve the recognition of these problems with a view to timely intervention. Furthermore, it is necessary to be alert to the high degree of mental health comorbidity with ADHD, behavioural disorders and anti-social personality disorder. This is because comorbidity can hamper the diagnosis and treatment of the disorders.
Tuithof M, Have M ten, Dorsselaer S van, Graaf R de. ADHD, gedragsstoornissen en antisociale persoonlijkheidsstoornis. Vóórkomen en gevolgen in de algemene bevolking: resultaten van NEMESIS-2. [ADHD, behavioural disorders and anti-social personality disorder. Prevalence and consequences in the general population: results of NEMESIS-2] Utrecht, Trimbos Institute, 2010.
More information: Marlous Tuithof