A recent study published in the journal Pediatrics found that adolescent Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a major predictor of physical, mental, and financial stress in adulthood. The researchers conclude that early diagnosis and treatment of adolescent ADHD is crucial in preventing and alleviating the increased difficulties associated in adulthood.
The researchers conducted what they believe to be the first longitudinal follow-up study of adolescents with ADHD as it related to both internal (e.g., mental health, antisocial personality disorder, physical difficulties) and external (e.g., work performance stress, financial stress) functioning in adulthood. The findings indicated that those with ADHD in adolescence were more likely to suffer from all of these issues in adulthood, especially increased financial stress and work performance stress.
ADHD and Employment
In this study, adolescences with ADHD were more likely to receive lower work performance ratings from employers. This may be because adults with ADHD tend to be impulsive, inattentive, and lack persistence in attending to work related tasks. Adolescents with ADHD were also more likely to experience high financial stress as adults. One of the main contributors to financial stress was a lower level of income attained by adults with ADHD. However, even after controlling for income levels, ADHD was still related to financial stress. The researchers suggested that distractibility, which is often associated with ADHD, may interfere with financial planning and maintaining control over one’s financial resources. Therefore it contributes to the anxiety and financial stress regarding one’s economic future.
The researchers assessed 551 participants between the ages of 14 and 16 years in 1975, and then again when they reached a mean age of 37 in 2009. The researchers did not investigate why the problems of ADHD persisted into adulthood, but they concluded that early intervention efforts are necessary for adolescents and children with ADHD.
The researchers suggested that a close parent-child relationship may help with later problems associated with ADHD. Parents of children diagnosed with ADHD often find it challenging to form a close and mutual parent-child relationship. Without early intervention, ADHD symptoms could contribute to unhealthy coping mechanisms that could persist throughout adolescence and into adulthood. Children with ADHD may feel frustrated and inadequate if they are struggling academically. Early intervention for children with ADHD or other types of learning impairments may help reduce some of their academic frustrations and difficulties.