ADHD affects millions of people worldwide annually. The neurodevelopmental disorder is fairly common and has many treatment options.

ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder that can cause problems with focusing, concentration, and the inability to sustain attention. If you’ve received an ADHD diagnosis, you may find that going about daily tasks is difficult due to trouble attending to and focusing on tasks.

ADHD affects people of all ages and backgrounds. It was once thought to be a disorder most often diagnosed in childhood; but, many people receive ADHD diagnoses as adults.

If you have ADHD, you aren’t alone. Many people are living with ADHD and can receive treatment.

Millions of people live with ADHD worldwide, and there are variations in diagnosis from children to adults. There are also differences in diagnosis rates between males and females.

ADHD in children

According to the National Health Interview Survey that was conducted from 2017 to 2022, there’s an ADHD prevalence rate of about 10% in U.S. children and adolescents. The authors report the prevalence rate in children is similar to data from 2015-2016.

Children may have more overt symptoms of the disorder, evident in school and at home. Another 2020 study reports that the prevalence rate of ADHD globally for children and adolescents is 5%.

ADHD in adults

Many people don’t receive an ADHD diagnosis until they’re adults, as it can present differently across populations, especially in women.

A study from 2021 estimates that persistent ADHD, where adult individuals were diagnosed in childhood, has a prevalence rate of 2.58% or 139.84 million individuals globally. The same authors mentioned that symptomatic adult ADHD, regardless of age of diagnosis, is estimated to be 6.76% or 366.33 million individuals worldwide.

ADHD and age

There’s a higher prevalence rate of ADHD diagnosis in children than in adults. A 2022 study suggests that ADHD symptoms decline over the lifespan; but, the authors note that ADHD is often unrecognized and underdiagnosed in adults over fifty.

The research also suggests that adults over fifty aren’t seeking treatment as much for ADHD. The lack of treatment and diagnosis may be due to a lack of recognition of how ADHD changes across the lifespan.

ADHD and gender differences

There’s a significant gap in the diagnosis of ADHD between girls and boys. 2019 research suggests that boys are often diagnosed and treated more often for ADHD. There have been theories about boys displaying more overt and disruptive symptoms while girls’ symptoms present differently.

Additional research from 2022 suggests that ADHD affects females and males at similar rates, but the underdiagnosis in females may account for how the symptoms differ across genders.

For example, the research suggests that males are more affected by problems with working memory and may have more difficulty in educational settings.

Females, though, also deal with problematic symptoms from the disorder and are most often affected by:

The educational functioning piece may explain why males are often diagnosed more in childhood.

If you’ve been diagnosed with ADHD or have a child or loved one who has been diagnosed with ADHD, there are many treatment options available.

Treatment for children

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) mentions that the most common treatment for ADHD in children involves behavior therapy, parent training, and medications.

The FDA has approved medications for children as young as 6, which can include stimulant and non-stimulant medication.

Behavior therapy can be used to help children learn strategies to cope with their ADHD, as well as teach parents how to deal with ADHD. Parents can often use strategies to help their children deal with their symptoms.

Treatment for adults

Treatment for adults also involves medications and therapy.

A 2022 review of 190 studies done on ADHD found that stimulant medications were the most effective for the treatment of adults, and there’s some increased effectiveness of treatment when stimulants are combined with behavioral therapy.

Non-stimulant medications are also effective but are often used secondary to stimulant medications. The research suggests that the combination of medication and therapy are both effective treatments for ADHD.

ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder, in which there can be challenges to diagnose, recognize, and treat the disorder. Many adults are not diagnosed until later in life because symptoms may have been hard to identify.

ADHD affects millions of people each year but may be more recognizable in childhood. The research suggests a decline of ADHD throughout the lifespan but may be due to the underdiagnosis and undertreatment of the disorder in later life.

If you have been diagnosed with ADHD and need help, you can use the FindCare tool to locate a therapist near you. If you’re considering medication, you can reach out to your healthcare professional to learn about your options for medication.