It is estimated that as many as 10 million U.S. adults have ADHD (Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder). A recent research study (publication-pending) suggests that the economic burden of ADHD on America could be as high as $250 billion annually. I attended a recent briefing on Capitol Hill and interviewed one of the study’s co-authors: Tufts economist, Dr. Peter Neumann as well as congressman (and psychologist) Tim Murphy about ADHD in America.
I learned from Dr. Neumann that cost these high cost estimates are most strongly influenced by reduced productivity in adult workers with ADHD rather than direct costs of treating children with the disorder. Productivity costs include absenteeism, and reduced work output due to difficulty focusing. Dr. Neumann explained that ADHD has many “spill over effects” in that it impacts the educational system, the justice system, the healthcare system, and our work environments. Please check out our interview video for the full story.
Congressman Tim Murphy is a clinical psychologist with three decades of experience in treating people with ADHD. He is also Co-chair of the Mental Health Caucus and GOP Doctors Caucus where he regularly works to raise awareness of healthcare accessibility needs. I had the chance to interview him also at the event.
I learned from Rep. Murphy that the costs of ADHD multiply when patients are untreated. Getting the correct diagnosis is critical, because impulsivity and problems with focusing are not always caused by ADHD. These symptoms can be caused by lead poisoning, damage to the limbic system of the brain, metabolic disorders, or even sleep apnea. Children who are inattentive should not be put on medications for ADHD without first confirming the diagnosis by ruling out other possible causes.
Rep. Murphy recommends a team approach to the management and treatment of ADHD and he believes that costs related to ADHD are escalating because some physicians are not managing children holistically, but resorting to prescribing medications without involving counselors and family directly. He sees lack of health insurance coverage for behavioral health services as a threat to comprehensive and effective ADHD treatment.
Please watch the video for the full interview with congressman Murphy.
*Please note that the panel event, and Better Health’s participation, was made possible by a grant from Shire Pharmaceuticals.
British scientists announced that attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) has been linked to deleted or duplicated DNA segments (copy number variants), which leads to developmental difference in the brains of children with the condition.
Researchers scanned genomes of 366 children with ADHD and compared them with 1,047 unrelated, ethnically matched control subjects. They reported full results in The Lancet.
Rare copy number variants were almost twice as common in children with ADHD compared to the other children. Researchers commented to Reuters that there was a significant overlap between copy number variants found in ADHD and elements of the genome linked to autism and schizophrenia, specifically in a region on chromosome 16.
The event, coinciding with ADD/ADHD Awareness Week, was a panel discussion about the impact ADHD has on our society. It was sponsored by Shire, in partnership with the Entertainment Industries Council (EIC) and the Lab School of Washington [Disclosure: I received a stipend for covering the event.]
Below are interviews Rob and I did with some of the panelists.
Kevin Pho interview with Michele Novotni, Ph.D., ADHD Expert and Former Attention Deficit Disorder Association (ADDA) President:
Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is probably overdiagnosed by physicians. In the lay public, the term is often used jokingly to describe the common feeling of distraction we experience in a world filled with interruptions. With a constant stream of text messages, Facebook updates, TV commercials, and fast-paced Twittering, there’s little wonder that we all feel frazzled at times.
But the occasional experience of jangled nerves is not a proper basis for a diagnosis of ADHD. Unfortunately, there has been great confusion between the actual disorder, and its misuse as a label for simply feeling distracted.
So to help set the record straight and to tease out fact from fiction, I’ll be attending a forum on Capitol Hill with my co-bloggers Dr. Kevin Pho and Dr. Rob Lamberts.
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