The number of people with ADHD diagnoses has seen a steep increase from the turn of the millennium, according to new research from University College London.
The research team took primary care data from around seven million people aged three to 99 between 2000 and 2018.
The study revealed that 35,877 people had an ADHD diagnosis and 18,518 had a prescription. The diagnoses jump was equivalent to a 20-fold increase while, for men aged 18-29, the prescription spike was the same as a 50-fold increase. Diagnoses were also around twice as prevalent in the country’s most deprived areas.
In boys aged 10-16, 1.4% had been diagnosed while 0.6% had a prescription in 2000 – this contrasts to 3.5% and 2.4% respectively in 2018.
The researchers emphasised how people are more likely to be prescribed medication for ADHD currently before adding that GPs should have more support when prescribing and monitoring said medications.
The researchers also highlighted the fact that the study findings will probably underrepresent the actual increase in ADHD incidence as the data only included prescriptions in primary care and not secondary care.
The pandemic will also have had an impact on these figures but, because the data ended in 2018, the evidence base did not capture it.
The study was funded by the National Institute for Health and Care Research.
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