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In this MD Newsline exclusive interview with psychiatrist Dr. Edward Hallowell, we discuss how commonly ADHD is diagnosed in adulthood. We also discuss why ADHD is underdiagnosed and undertreated.

MD Newsline:

How commonly is ADHD diagnosed in adulthood?

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Dr. Edward Hallowell:

“ADHD is not diagnosed as commonly as it occurs. Probably 10% of the adult population has it, maybe even 20%, depending on how you define it. But a significantly smaller percentage of adults are diagnosed with ADHD because adult patients and adult psychiatrists don’t think to assess for it.

Adult ADHD remains, particularly among women, a vastly underdiagnosed condition, which is too bad because if you know you have it, your life will change, often dramatically for the better. And, if you don’t know you have it, you’ll continue to struggle.”

 

MD Newsline:

What factors contribute to the underdiagnosis, misdiagnosis, and undertreatment of ADHD? 

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Dr. Edward Hallowell:

“Purely ignorance. We need to educate the public as well as the professionals as to what ADHD is. And it’s a really good news story because when you learn about it, your life definitely improves. When you don’t know about it—you struggle.

So, it’s a matter of public education as well as professional education—trying to get to as many people as we can—the knowledge that can change their lives for the better.”

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Responses have been condensed and lightly edited.