A longitudinal study was published last month looking at attention deficit disorder (ADHD). Surprisingly, there are actually very few studies on ADHD that follow a set of people diagnosed with the concern over a number of years, so anytime one of these studies gets published, it’s big news.

The study also found that in populations where medication is rarely prescribed to treat ADHD, the prevalence and symptoms of the disorder are roughly equivalent to populations in which medication is widely used:

Researchers also found surprising results regarding the effectiveness of medicine in treating ADHD. In contrast to children in United States, youth in northern Finland are rarely treated with medicine for ADHD, yet the ‘look’ of the disorder — its prevalence, symptoms, psychiatric comorbidity and cognition — is relatively the same as in the U.S., where stimulant medication is widely used. The researchers point out that this raises important issues about the efficacy of the current treatments of ADHD in dealing with the disorder’s long-term problems.

That’s not what we would normally expect. If ADHD medications were effective over the long-term, we would expect the research to show things like prevalence rates and symptoms to significantly decrease over time. It’s not clear why this research didn’t find such decreases. The most obvious explanation is that perhaps ADHD medications, while initially fairly effective, lose their potency or therapeutic effects over time.

Another interesting finding is that in about two-thirds of children with ADHD, they continue to exhibit significant levels of inattentiveness and impairment into adolescence. I believe that figure is significantly higher than what many professionals and researchers had thought.

Sobering findings on the effectiveness of our current treatments for ADHD.

Read the full article: Experts Call for New Approach to ADHD