why is adhd so common
why is adhd so common
ADHD

5 Valid Reasons Why ADHD Is “So Common” Today

Last Updated on

April 19th, 2024 09:52 am

Today, nearly 1 out of every 30 children has been diagnosed with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). When you think back to every class having that one kid with no attention span that couldn’t sit still, or that colleague that constantly makes careless mistakes, it makes sense that some people are diagnosed earlier than others.

But why are so many adults also seeking a diagnosis in recent years? Is it that ADHD is more prevalent in daily life, or has it been hidden under a sea of ignorance for so long? And what do the increasing diagnosis rates mean for those living with a lifelong condition such as ADHD, and for families affected by ADHD?

Let’s look at 5 valid reasons why ADHD, along with many behavioral disorders, is (seemingly) more widely diagnosed nowadays, and what we can learn about its relationship with other neurodevelopmental disorders.

1. Greater Confidence in Screening Children for Behaviors

More and more parents are taking advantage of developments in research and better early childhood screening programs designed to find developmental delays or behavioral disorders in young children. These screenings include vision tests, hearing tests, speech evaluations, and psychological screenings.

Parents who take part in these early childhood screenings recognize that early intervention may offer an opportunity to reduce the struggles faced in later life for those faced with neurodivergent conditions such as ADHD and Dyslexia.

For example, early interventions that teach toddlers language skills can help improve speech and language later in life, which in turn leads to a more positive mindset and greater self-regulation over impulsive behaviors.

An increase in child screenings have offered parents and teachers opportunities to encourage little ones to learn skills necessary for future success in school and later in life. With greater awareness of ADHD, formerly known as Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), early childhood screenings and brain scans become an opportunity to discuss developmental challenges that may lead to a diagnosis of ADHD later in life.

2. ADHD Awareness Campaigns for Mental and Physical Health

As we discussed above, ADHD awareness campaigns have skyrocketed in recent years. This increase in awareness comes from parents, doctors, researchers, and educators becoming aware of the potential impact of ADHD on their patients and their communities.

Multicolored beads in a pile with a hand holding the letters ADHD

Several years ago, American parents and teachers began noticing that many of the school-age American children they were seeing had difficulty paying attention and completing tasks at home and in the classroom. Whilst social media is often to blame, in reality it’s provided an increased awareness of the condition amongst American adults.

Along with pioneering work by mental health professionals and academics such as Russell Barkley and Ned Hallowell led to a growing number of people researching and learning about ADHD and the diagnostic criteria of such brain disorders. Many people became aware of the potential impact that ADHD could have on their lives, and thus sought treatment for their hyperactive symptoms.

Many people have gone through the diagnostic criteria in a clinical evaluation, only to be misdiagnosed by health care providers and mental health experts with a mental health condition, such as Anxiety Disorder. In turn, false positives lead to actual development anxiety in the long-run.

3. Increased Accessibility of Treatments and Medications

Access to a variety of treatment options for ADHD has increased, which has led to an increase in the number of people diagnosed with the condition. Current research suggests that there may be many causes of ADHD, but that genetic factors play an important role.

Additionally, there has also been an increase in the number of psychologists who specialize in clinical evaluation to diagnose and treat ADHD. Therefore, it is easier than ever before for parents to find qualified professionals who understand the condition and are familiar with the different types of treatment plans available such as CBT or stimulant medications.

What’s more, discourse from medical professionals around behavioral therapy about mental disorders, and how disruptive behaviors such as Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) are dealt with, has increased awareness of the condition. The traditional behavioral strategies involved in behavior therapy as treatment for children are controversial and resonating amongst the wider community.

4. The Prevalence of Social Media Advocacy

Social media has played an influential role in increasing awareness of ADHD. A difference in prevalence of the condition between geographic locations and cross-cultural differences, as well as misdiagnosis in adult women, has been neutralized over the years by social media awareness.

Parents and caregivers often turn to the internet, television, and magazines to educate themselves on the topic. They also seek advice from online forums and blogs (such as this one!) where others share their experiences and then look deeper into their self-diagnosis.

Girl on phone whilst lying down on sofa with an alarm clock showing the time

These sources of information play a role in convincing parents that ADHD is real, and that their children suffer from the influences of traditional environmental factors and social etiquette.

Additionally, advocates contribute to raising awareness about ADHD among other people who might not know much about the disorder. Often cultural factors and stereotypes come into play, assuming ADHD is simply a behavioral disorder that makes those with more severe inattentive symptoms appear “lazy” or “forgetful”.

Ironically, it’s thanks to the addictive nature of short-form media such as TikTok that many on these platforms are challenging cultural factors and conventions and seeking the diagnosis from a healthcare provider that they needed all this time. In effect, self-diagnosis is its own self-fulfilling prophecy, proving that it’s not a deficit of attention, but a lack of control.

Of course, it’s crucial to seek medical professional advice from a health care provider for a comprehensive evaluation. While self-diagnosis is valid in many circumstances, for some people it can lead to self-medicating or improper application of treatments and strategies, without the right support.

5. Better Test Scores

Finally, the test scores of individuals diagnosed with ADHD have improved dramatically over time. Numerous studies have shown improvements attributed to the increase in accessibility of effective treatments, that improve quality of life by boosting both mental and physical health.

Although the trend toward increasingly widespread diagnoses of ADHD continues today, these trends show that most health professionals and experts agree that it’s important to stay cautious when diagnosing ADHD until all other environmental factors that could be influencing current symptoms have been ruled out.

That’s especially the case where known risk factors are involved that may have influenced birth weight or early childhood development such as exposure to toxins. While nobody is 100% certain what causes ADHD, it’s acknowledged that environmental factors such as these can influence the required treatment later in life.

ADHD Diagnoses are More Accurate Than Ever

In summary, the rise in ADHD diagnoses can be attributed to increased public awareness of how the disorder affects adult lives and the daily routine involved, as well as better testing methods.

So when you hear someone say “everyone has ADHD these days”, you can explain to them why they think that way. And, why the increase in diagnosis is something to be embraced, not frowned upon.

Keep reading to learn more about ADHD and see what else you can learn today!

FAQ

Q: Is ADHD overdiagnosed?

A: While there is ongoing debate about potential overdiagnosis of ADHD, it is important to note that ADHD is a complex condition that can manifest differently in each individual. It’s cormorbidity with conditions such as Autism Spectrum Disorder play a role, since when one is treated, the other becomes more visible. A thorough evaluation and assessment by a qualified healthcare professional is crucial to ensure an accurate diagnosis.

Q: What are the Different Presentations of ADHD?

ADHD can present itself in different ways, also known as presentations. The three main presentations of ADHD are:

  1. Predominantly Inattentive Presentation: This is commonly referred to as “ADD” and is characterized by difficulty sustaining attention, being easily distracted, and struggling with organization and time management. People with inattentive presentation may appear dreamy or forgetful and often have trouble completing tasks or following instructions.
  1. Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive Presentation: This presentation is characterized by hyperactivity and impulsivity. Individuals may have difficulty sitting still, are constantly on the go, and often engage in impulsive behaviors without thinking about the consequences. They may also have difficulty waiting for their turn or interrupting others during conversations.
  1. Combined Presentation: This is the most common presentation of ADHD and involves a combination of both inattentive and hyperactive-impulsive symptoms. Individuals with this presentation exhibit a range of symptoms, including difficulty focusing, impulsivity, and restlessness.

It’s important to note that the symptoms of ADHD can vary from person to person and may change over time. Additionally, ADHD can present differently in children versus adults, with some symptoms becoming less noticeable or manifesting in different ways as individuals age.

Q: Are there any known causes of ADHD?

A: The exact causes of ADHD are not fully understood, but research suggests that a combination of genetic, environmental, and neurological factors contribute to its development. Some known risk factors include genetics, premature birth, low birth weight, exposure to environmental toxins, and prenatal tobacco or alcohol use.

Q: Can ADHD be cured?

A: Currently, there is no known cure for ADHD. However, with appropriate treatment, individuals with ADHD can learn to manage their symptoms effectively and lead productive lives. Treatment options may include medication, behavioral therapy for behavioral disorders, educational interventions, and lifestyle modifications.

Q: Does ADHD only affect children?

A: While ADHD is commonly diagnosed in childhood, it can persist into adolescence and adulthood. Many individuals who are diagnosed with ADHD as children continue to experience symptoms and may require ongoing support and treatment throughout their lives.

Q: Can adults have ADHD even if they weren’t diagnosed as children?

A: Yes, it is possible for individuals to have ADHD without being diagnosed in childhood. In some cases, symptoms may not have been noticeable or may have been attributed to other factors. Adults with undiagnosed ADHD may struggle with difficulties in attention, organization, time management, impulsivity, and emotional regulation.

Q: Can ADHD be managed without medication?

A: Treatment for ADHD is highly individualized, and medication is not the only option. Non-pharmacological interventions by mental health professionals, such as behavioral disorder therapy, psychoeducation, coaching, and lifestyle modifications, can be effective in managing symptoms and improving overall functioning. Treating mental health conditions such as bipolar disorder can also improve symptoms of ADHD such as irritability and anxiety.

Q: Can people with ADHD be successful?

A: Absolutely! Many famous people with ADHD have unique strengths and talents that can contribute to their success. With appropriate support, self-care strategies, and the right accommodations, individuals with ADHD can excel in various aspects of life, including academics, careers, relationships, and personal growth.

Q: How can I support someone with ADHD?

A: Being understanding, patient, and offering support can go a long way in helping someone with ADHD. Educate yourself about the disorder, communicate openly, provide structure and consistency, and encourage self-care practices. Collaborating with healthcare professionals and seeking professional guidance can also be beneficial for both individuals with ADHD and their support network.

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Rob Butler
30-Something Millennial with ADHD and suspected Autistic and Dyspraxic. Thought leader behind this website. Big visions of a better future for everyone, but forgets where he is half the time.Loves Rugby, his kids, and anything silly. Hates U2 and Marmite.

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