Depression, anxiety and substance abuse are the most common accompanying mental health issues. "In some cases," Ramsay said, "adults with previously unrecognized ADHD may seek treatment for these other conditions and may make partial progress -- only to later recognize that undiagnosed ADHD was a primary source of their coping difficulties."
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, between 3 percent and 7 percent of school-aged kids nationwide have ADHD. A child with ADHD might be habitually unable to sit still, finish homework assignments or pay attention in class.
As kids get older, though, the signs generally become more subtle. Teenagers may no longer be disruptive in class, but instead be impulsive in their decisions -- such as taking risks when they're driving, Barbaresi said.
Likewise, an adult with ADHD may be impulsive and have trouble staying organized, being productive at work or sticking with one task at a time. Whatever the age, ADHD treatment involves medication, behavioral therapy or a combination of the two.
There is, however, a good deal of controversy surrounding ADHD, with critics charging that some children are being labeled as having a "disease" and treated with drugs they do not need. Ritalin and other so-called stimulant medications often are prescribed for ADHD, and some parents balk at the idea of having their child on such a powerful drug long-term.
"Of course, there are concerns about the accuracy of diagnosis and inappropriate treatment," Barbaresi said. But, he added, that's a concern in medicine in general.
Dr. Steve Balt, editor-in-chief of the Carlat Psychiatry Report, which bills itself as an alternative to journals with drug-industry funding, said the study "emphasizes the importan
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