Evidence-based information about adult ADHD

Evidence from the USA suggests that as many as 4.4% of adults may have ADHD. This is thought to be higher in males (5.4%) versus females (3.2%). However, these figures may highlight inequalities in diagnosis. There is no reason to think that ADHD is any more or less prevalent in the UK.

Getting a diagnosis of ADHD as an adult in the UK can be difficult, time consuming or expensive. Sadly, at the present time there are inadequate resources available in the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) for ADHD assessment. Along with a lack of public awareness this means there are likely many undiagnosed ADHD adults living with the condition.

How to get a Diagnosis

We have some video resources about diagnosis on our YouTube channel. As diagnosis has to be done by a specialist psychiatrist there are currently two routes to a diagnosis. You can use the NHS services or pay to go private. We discuss the relative merits of these options in our videos.

Diagnosing ADHD in adults is more often more difficult than in children. An adult may be diagnosed with ADHD if they have 5 or more of the symptoms of inattentiveness, or 5 or more of hyperactivity/impulsiveness. Currently, although present symptoms are assessed a diagnosis of ADHD in adults cannot be confirmed unless your symptoms have been present from childhood. This is because it’s currently thought that ADHD cannot develop in adult brains. This often involves asking your parents/siblings questions about you as a child or showing old school reports

Importantly, symptoms also have to have a moderate effect on different areas of your life. This could include difficulty in your relationships, difficulty at work etc.