Untreated ADHD in adults

Although people with ADHD may not "grow out of" it, learning management practices can help them live a complete life. A person may experience low self-esteem, depression, and issues with school, employment, and relationships if they do not receive treatment, which may involve medication.

The number of children diagnosed with ADHD varies depending on the source and the year of publishing, but it is apparent that up to 9% of school-aged children have the disorder. The number of adults diagnosed with the same disease is underappreciated. Again, summary data differ by source, however Young (2007) claims that 40-70 percent of children diagnosed with ADHD will suffer with the problem as adults, and Ferrari & Sanders (2006) found that 4-5 percent of adults consider ADHD to be a chronic condition in their literature review.

I was ignorant of the implications of ADHD in adults until a coworker shared his recent diagnosis a few years ago (subsequently others have "outed" themselves as well). It was a comfort to my colleague, who now knew that his troubles with inattentiveness and distractibility were not some moral failing of being "lazy or malingering," as Young has written in his book.

ADHD is characterized by inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity, for those readers who are uninformed (I'll guess no one clicked on this blog article without some knowledge of ADHD, so I'll make this brief). People with ADHD, according to Ferrari and Sanders, "have trouble finishing activities on time, organizing work, and are commonly described as carless, impulsive, distracted, and forgetful... [and they] also report feeling easily pressured, irritable, and short-tempered (APA, 2000)." (2006, pp. 2-3).

Several readers of my blog and podcast listeners have talked about their personal ADHD and procrastination. This beautifully written reaction to my blog, which thousands of readers have read and for which many have expressed gratitude, was maybe the most impressive of these responses to my site. What astounds them, and myself, is how little official research has been done on the link between ADHD and procrastination.

The Investigation

One of the first studies specifically aimed at exploring the relationship between measures of procrastination and adult ADHD was published by my colleague Joseph Ferrari (DePaul University) and Sarah Sanders (Illinois School of Professional Development). They gathered information from a group of adults (18 men, 11 women, average age: 49 years) who attended a western Chicago support group for adults with attention deficit disorder. To regulate their attention/hyperactivity disorder, these participants took at least one, and sometimes two, prescribed drugs on a daily basis. Ferrari and Sanders also gathered information from a convenience sample of adults who attended a procrastinating seminar. The authors thought this was an appropriate comparison because both were community samples of largely Caucasian, married, "white-collared" professionals.

They compared the two groups on three different procrastination measures. The specifics of these measurements aren't significant because they're all highly connected. The important distinction is that one study looked at decisional procrastination while the other two looked at behavioral procrastination

When the ADHD group was compared to the population sample, it was discovered that adults with ADHD had considerably higher decisional and behavioral procrastination. The findings "confirm the clinical diagnoses that repeated delays in completing activities may be a symptom of AD/HD disease," according to Ferrari and Sanders (p. 7).