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Dramatic increase in diagnosis of ADHD not accompanied by rise in clinically significant symptoms

13 March 2018

Across the globe, ADHD prevalence is estimated around 5 per cent.

It’s a figure that’s been rising for decades. For example, Sweden saw ADHD diagnoses among 10-year olds increase more than sevenfold from 1990 to 2007. Similar spikes have been reported from other countries, too, including Taiwan and the US, suggesting this may be a universal phenomenon.

In fact, looking at dispensed ADHD medication as a proxy measure of ADHD prevalence, studies from the UK show an even steeper increase.

Does this mean that more people today really have ADHD than in the past? Not necessarily. For example, greater awareness by clinicians, teachers or parents could have simply captured more patients who had previously had been “under the radar”.

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