Which would make ADHD symptoms worse

Consequences of untreated ADHD

ADHD is not a pure developmental disorder that "grows out" with puberty. In around a third of the children affected, the abnormalities regress with age, but around 30-60% of all children who suffer from ADHD retain the symptoms as a lifelong disorder into adulthood.1

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is a chronic condition. According to the current state of knowledge, it is not fundamentally curable. Treatment of ADHD therefore aims to regulate the behavioral disorders to such an extent that the affected children can develop normally or that normal development is not endangered. It is crucial for the child that during treatment, the areas of his life as a whole remain in view so that the child can build stable social relationships in the family, at school and also in the afternoon leisure activities.

Because only individual and comprehensive treatment can optimally influence the course and severity of the disease, so that children and adolescents with ADHD can participate in normal social life in a self-determined manner, so that they develop a healthy self-esteem and have the chance of a fulfilling life .

What if ADHD is left untreated?

If ADHD is left untreated, it can have far-reaching and lifelong consequences for the child. The effects not only affect the ADHD children themselves, but also their families and their wider social environment.

What negative effects does untreated ADHD have on ...

  • school development?
    School time often means suffering for children with ADHD. They lack stamina and concentration for the required tasks. Careless mistakes and constant disruptions to lessons can quickly lead to bad grades. Even if intelligence and talent basically correspond to the type of school, the risk of a "negative school career" is great. Around 35% of young people with ADHD drop out of school prematurely and without a corresponding qualification. About 46% of ADHD children are kicked out of school for aggressive behavior.2 Such a school course significantly reduces the chances on the job market. In school itself, a lack of adaptability to predetermined rules of behavior and impulsive disruptive behavior often make children with ADHD unpopular outsiders even in the classroom. Through experiences of rejection, incomprehension and failure, the spiral of negative development takes its course and everyday school life becomes torture for these children.

  • Social Development?
    Even in infancy, the conspicuous behavior of ADHD children can lead to rejection among playmates: Nobody wants to play with them and they are not invited to birthday parties. This way the children cannot learn to build stable friendships. You are prone to depression at an early age and develop only low self-esteem. These early experiences of social rejection have a lasting effect well into adulthood and increase the susceptibility to get into the "wrong circles". Studies have shown that the risk of criminal acts or addictions is significantly higher with untreated ADHD.3 Often drug or alcohol addiction is also a way of shutting down the "inner motor" that is constantly running at full speed. In professional circles this is also called "self-medication".

  • whole family?
    Everyday life with ADHD, the constant friction and conflicts between parents and children, but also between parents with one another, put the whole family to an enormous test. It is not uncommon for violent arguments to arise over questions of upbringing and the parents to feel guilty for failing to raise their child. Divorce is not infrequently the result. In families with ADHD children, there are 3-5 times more separations and divorces than in families without an ADHD child.4 The siblings are also heavily burdened: The naturally increased attention to the "problem child" leads to jealousy and sibling rivalry. A child with ADHD often forces parents to neglect their job, to work part-time, or to give up work entirely - even if this means financial losses for the whole family and disadvantages for their own professional development. Several studies have shown that parents of ADHD children suffer more from symptoms of stress, feelings of guilt, social isolation, depression and marital crises than the parents of healthy children.4

  • Society in general?
    These health care costs caused by ADHD and the economic consequences for society are often overlooked. The risk of abuse and addiction to alcohol, nicotine and drugs is significantly higher in adolescents with ADHD.5 On average, they are also significantly younger when they use drugs and alcohol for the first time than children and adolescents without ADHD. Studies have shown that ADHD patients are less likely to get rid of addiction in adulthood.6

In addition, the increased willingness to take risks among children and adolescents with ADHD leads to accidents with appropriate medical treatment more often; they also cause more car and motorcycle accidents than healthy people.7 The consequences of untreated ADHD are of considerable importance to society as a whole. The increased care expenditure, the greater use of health care and indirect costs caused by the parents' absence from work are consequences that ultimately bear society. At the same time, this means a social responsibility towards those affected so that they receive appropriate care and treatment.

1) Biederman J, Mick E & Faraone SV: Age-dependent decline of symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder: impact of remission definition and symptom type. Am J Psychiatry 157; 2000: 816-818
2) Barkley RA: Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. A Handbook for Diagnosis and Treatment, Guilford Press, New York, 3 edition, 2005
3) Biederman J, Wilens T, Mick E et al: Is ADHD a risk factor for psychoactive substance use disorders? Findings from a four-year prospective follow-up study. J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry 36; 1997: 21-29
4) Murphy KR, Barkley RA: Parents of children with attention-deficit / hyperactivity disorder: psychological and attentional impairment. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry 66 (1); 1996: 3-102
5) Cunningham CE et al: Family functioning, time allocation and parental depression in the families of normal and ADHD children. Journal of Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry 17; 1998: 169-177.
Wilens TE, Prince JB, Biederman J, Spencer TJ, Frances RJ: Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and comorbid substance use disorder in adults. Psychiatr. Serv. 46 (8); 1995: 765
6) Barkley RA et al: Driving-related risks and outcomes of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in adolescents and young adults: a 3 to 5 year follow-up survey. Pediatrics 92: 212-218, 1993
7) DiScala C, Lescohier I, Barthel M, Li G: Injuries to children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Pediatrics 102; 1998: 1415-1421

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