UK’s ADHD Diagnoses Notably Increased, Scientists Suggest

Research suggests an increase in ADHD diagnoses and medications, with children seeing the most extraordinary rise while adults experienced the most significant relative growth.

The study, published in the journal BJPsych Open, examined data from seven million people between the ages of three and 99 from the UK primary care database IQVIA Medical Research Data between 2000 and 2018. Thirty-five thousand eight hundred seventy-seven were diagnosed with ADHD, and 18,518 had a doctor's prescription for ADHD medication.

The researchers discovered that ADHD was more frequently diagnosed in children than adults and more frequently in boys and men than in girls and women, even though a small percentage of people still take medication for the condition.


According to the data, children had the most significant increase in absolute terms. In 2000, 1.4% of males aged 10 to 16 had been diagnosed with ADHD, and 0.6% had been given medication to treat it; by 2018, those percentages had risen to 3.5% and 2.4%, respectively. However, adults showed the most significant prominence of the relative rise.

For instance, among men aged 18 to 29, there was a roughly twenty-fold increase in ADHD diagnoses and a nearly fifty-fold increase in ADHD prescriptions. However, there was no appreciable rise in the number of kids under five.

Whilst ADHD is most likely to be diagnosed in childhood, an increasing number of people are diagnosed for the first time in adulthood. We do not know exactly why this is happening, but it may be that ADHD has become better recognised and diagnosed.

- Lead author, Doug McKechnie

He says long NHS waiting lists for ADHD evaluations have been widely reported in recent years, particularly for adults. McKechnie continued that there will probably be an increase in the number of individuals diagnosed with and treated for ADHD. Thus, specialized resources must be made accessible to deal with this.

The study also emphasizes how more ADHD medications are being administered nowadays. Such prescriptions are given to general practitioners (GPs) in the NHS after receiving a reference from a specialist. The researchers demand that GPs receive improved assistance in recommending and overseeing these drugs.

According to McKechnie, GPs' time is already under much pressure. As rates and knowledge of ADHD rise, they must ensure they have the appropriate frameworks to support GPs and enable patients to obtain timely, safe, and efficient therapy.


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