Updated: Feb 3
For as long as I can remember my life has been associated with the mental health industry. At the age of five I was diagnosed with ADHD. There were days I would not be able to pay attention in the class room and I was unable to stay out of trouble due to the constant craving of attention. Over the years I unconsciously created defense mechanisms that provided an added benefit to my lifestyle such as multitasking and channeling the excess energy towards projects and my career. With as much time in the mental health industry as I have been in it has cost my family tens of thousands of dollars. It has created walls in relationships, has destroyed friendships and created problems at work for the lack of paying attention to specific details. With proper treatment and health care I have found the proper channels and solutions to manage my ADHD symptoms. Today I am going to share with you the cost behind ADHD, how it affects our society and what the statistics are when not properly managed.
Having ADHD is an expense, and not a small one. It is often co-morbid with bi-polar and cyclothemia which is an added difficulty for the health care system when diagnosing and determining exactly where the patient's symptoms stems from.
According to a national 2016 parent survey, 6 in 10 children with ADHD had at least one other mental, emotional, or behavioral disorder: About 5 in 10 children with ADHD had a behavior or conduct problem. About 3 in 10 children with ADHD had anxiety as well. Boys are diagnosed more often then girls (12.9% compared to 5.6%) and 9.4% of children are diagnosed with ADHD. It also effects adults as well. About 8.1% of U.S. adults age 18-44 have been diagnosed with ADHD. And there are myths that it disappears with age, that is not the case Approximately one-third of children diagnosed with ADHD retain the diagnosis into adulthood. The patient usually has created a defense mechanism and behavioral patterns to adjusts appropriately to the circumstances they faced with for social outings, work, and relationships.
A study in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry found that the total spending on ADHD ranges from $143 billion to $266 billion a year, and the direct annual costs for treatment are estimated to be $1,574 per person, plus $2,278 a year for family members when indirect costs like productivity losses are taken into account. Keep in mind when not being assisted by health insurance programs price can increase exponentially. Name brand medications such as Vyvanse and Strattera cost hundreds of dollars for a months supply of capsules. When you talk to a person who lives with ADHD they will often tell you medication is often like putting on glasses and being able to read for the first time. CNS stimulants (CNS stands for central nervous system) are medicines that stimulate the brain, speeding up both mental and physical processes.
They increase energy, improve attention and alertness. For a person living with ADHD this can be a life saver as people like myself will have a tough time focusing enough attention and energy to see the smallest of details while others can pick up information and retain it with ease. It's very often we lose keys, wallets, credit cards and drivers licenses as our brain processes information at a different rate and by the time we forget where we put our items we are onto the next project.
Many will say people with ADHD are "cheating" by taking neuro stimulants for work, school, and daily living. However that is absolutely not the case as it can be a life saver for many. And this is in the literal sense. Adults with ADHD often are accident-prone because of inattention, hyperactivity, or impulsivity. Adult ADHD is linked to a near 13-year reduction of estimated life expectancy. Childhood ADHD is associated with a 9.5-year reduction. This is especially seen in regards to driving and motor vehicle accidents, the untreated symptoms of ADHD in an adult driver can impair the driver’s ability to drive in such a way that it resembles intoxicated driving. Drivers with ADHD appear particularly at risk to distractions during periods of low stimulus, or dull, driving. An example of dull driving is long-distance and highway driving, where high speeds can raise the chance of serious accident. And with more accidents and incidents on a persons record, the higher auto insurance cost will be. The American Academy of Pediatrics contends that the benefits of giving drivers with ADHD medications are uncertain, but note that adults with ADHD on medication saw a 40% reduction in emergency visits as a result of crashes compared to months when they had not taken medication. People with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) have a lower life expectancy and are more than twice as likely to die prematurely as those without the disorder. Accidents are the most common cause of death in people with ADHD.
Keep in mind the parents of children with ADHD plan to spend thousands of dollars on private tutoring, assistive software, lost belongings, accidents, and time off of work — more than five times the amount spent by neurotypical families, according to a new study by the Center for Children and Families at Florida International University. Children with ADHD are also twelve times more likely to have Loss of Control Eating Syndrome and end up binge eating, anorexic or bulimic.
There are many successful entrepreneurs actors, and musicians that are diagnosed with ADHD. Ty Pennington, Adam Levine, and Richard Branson just to name a few. Those with ADHD have the ability to hyper focus on specific tasks that they are interested in. That's why you will often see an entrepreneur with ADHD, as they can focus on multiple tasks with high efficiency and multi task at different levels within the company such as admin, sales, and human resources because it helps to keep the mind stimulated. It's not uncommon to see a person that has ADHD that is managing there symptoms properly working sixty to eighty hours a week. I myself own two companies, a captive insurance agency and Statera Risk Management. It helps to keep me occupied at all times as those with ADHD love to be stimulated in multiple areas. You will also read online that we love martial arts such as Judo and Jujitsu. Martial arts can develop coordination, boost confidence, improve focus, implement discipline and mold a person to better control there mind, body, and emotions. I am also a huge fan of cognitive behavioral therapy, mindfulness meditation and journaling as it helps to teach us more about ourselves, to recognize our thoughts, feelings and behaviors. Ever since I have met a professional psychologist that implemented strategies other than working twelve hour days to constantly keep my mind occupied, I have learned how to slow down and take each and every day as it comes, as opposed to worrying about what will happen tomorrow. Between medication and proper therapy you can truly take back your life and put it in your hands when you live with ADHD.
With all of this being said I wanted to share my life with ADHD, a few statistics regarding the mortality rate of those with ADHD, the financial costs, and some of my personal story. If you notice some of my writing is all over the place, that is due to the hyper focus of my ADHD wanting to cover and share as much as possible in this short blog with you.
I hope your week finds you well,
Mental Health Advocate,
The average symptoms for ADHD can be found on this website, provided by the CDC.