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  Home :: 2007 January :: Adult ADHD 'not treated properly'
A leading psychiatrist says many adults withattention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are not getting thetreatment they need.

Professor Philip Asherson, from London's Maudsley Hospital, wants sufferers to be recognised and treated.

ADHD is well-known in childhood, but estimates suggest up to 65% of sufferers are affected years later.

Adults with ADHD can experience depression, anxiety and impulsiveness, the British Journal of Psychiatry says.

Publicity around ADHD also means larger numbers ofadults are recognising the key signs of the condition in themselves,and seeking help.

Professor Asherson said some adults might have alreadybeen misdiagnosed with a different mental health problem, and bereceiving the wrong sort of treatment.

Drug hope

The use of stimulant drugs such as Ritalin is nowcommonplace in children, and he said this should become standardpractice in adults as well.

"Medication, especially with stimulant drugs, is an effective means of reducing ADHD symptoms and behaviours in adulthood.

"For these reasons we strongly urge that appropriatedrug treatment of ADHD should be a normal part of the therapeuticresources available within general adult psychiatry."

At present, there are relatively few NHS clinics aimed specifically at adult ADHD patients.

However, Professor Asherson argued doing nothing may be more costly.

"Adults with untreated ADHD use more healthcareresources because of smoking-related disorders, increased rates ofserious accidents, and alcohol and drug misuse.

Further research is needed to quantify the contribution of ADHD to psychiatric disorders in adulthood."

'Dearth of facilities'

A recent survey of children with ADHD in Newham, inLondon, found although symptoms tended to decrease between the ages ofseven and 17, the 17-year-olds showed a level of hyperactivity similarto that found in a group of normal seven-year-olds.

When the same people were seen again at the age of 26,they were found to have disabilities associated with high levels ofpsychiatric disorder, including feelings of restlessness, feelingdepressed when inactive, depression, and difficulties sustainingrelationships.

Dr Chris Steer, who treats paediatric ADHD in Fife, saidthat there was a 'dearth' of facilities aimed at older patients, whichmeant that patients entering adult life often lost the necessarysupport and treatment, even if they were still displaying ADHDsymptoms.

He said: "We often keep looking after patients until they are 20 - I have some patients who are in their mid-20s.

"It's a very risky thing when you say to a patient: 'I'm sorry, we can't see you any more'."


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Pedophilia and sexual abuse of children in Australia