ADHD has long been recognised as one of the most common psychiatric disorders in children and it is now known to persist into adulthood. Two-thirds of the 5% of children with ADHD continue to have symptoms when adults with 1.5% of the adult population having the full syndrome. The latter consists of the persistence of at least 2 of the 3 core symptoms (inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity) together with functional impairment in at least two domains.
Despite this, there are no fully established ADHD specific services for adults with syndromal ADHD in Ireland.
This is a significant deficit in service provision for 3 groups of adults:
- Those diagnosed with ADHD as children with syndromal ADHD persisting into adulthood (18 years and older)
- The parents of these young people, of whom 25% may have ADHD as there is a strong familial genetic link.
- Adults of all ages in whom ADHD was not recognised in childhood. This is most likely to occur in girls in whom the most prominent core symptom is likely to be inattention and so easily missed with the child being described as “dreamy”.
As well as functional impairments in domains such as personal and social relations, education and occupation, managing money and organising life in general, there is an increased risk of co-morbid mental health problems (anxiety and/or depression), road traffic accidents and criminal conviction. Suicide and self-harming both occur at increased rates.
The condition is, therefore, a major public health and social problem for which this Clinical Programme recommends an evidence based, practical and integrated response. The details of this are outlined in the Model of Care and summarised in the next section on Recommendations.