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ADHD in the U.S. - Statistics & Facts

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is the most commonly diagnosed mental disorder among children in the United States, affecting over six million children as of 2016. Children with ADHD often have difficulty paying attention, trouble controlling their behavior, and excessive activity, which can impact their experience at school and their home life. Early symptoms of ADHD include the child being easily distracted, forgetting daily activities, not paying attention, having trouble being quiet or sitting still, or problems waiting for their turn. Despite some misconceptions, ADHD does not disappear with adulthood. Although overall hyperactivity may decrease with age, symptoms manifest themselves in other ways among adults, such as through impulsiveness, mood swings, anxiety, chronic lateness, anger issues, and disorganization and procrastination. As of the fall of 2018, it was estimated that over eight percent of college students suffered from ADHD.

From 1997 to 2016, the percentage of children in the U.S. with ADHD increased from 5.5 percent to 9.4 percent. ADHD is more common among boys than girls, with 13 percent of boys diagnosed compared to just 6.6 percent of girls. There are also slight differences in ADHD prevalence by ethnicity. As of 2018, 13 percent of African American children had been diagnosed with ADHD, compared to 9.6 percent of white children and only 7 percent of Hispanic or Latino children.

ADHD is most commonly treated with medication, therapy, or a combination of both. A couple of the most well-known medications to treat ADHD include Ritalin and Adderall. Both drugs are known for their potential for abuse among those not suffering from ADHD, yet the overall use of both Ritalin and Adderall among high school students has declined in recent years. Therapy can be effective in treating and coping with ADHD, especially considering that many of those who suffer from the disorder also suffer from another disorder. For example, it is estimated that around 33 percent of children in the U.S. with ADHD also suffer from anxiety and 17 percent suffer from depression. Similarly, around 20 percent of university students with ADHD frequently felt depressed as of 2016.

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Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in the U.S.

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