ADHD Videos

How ADHD Affects Life Expectancy

ADHD can reduce life expectancy by as much as 13 years, but its risk is reversible. Learn how to mitigate the risks in this video, with Russell Barkley, Ph.D.

Attention deficit disorder (ADHD or ADD) may drastically shorten a patient’s life expectancy. In fact, its impact may be larger than any other single health threat including:

  • Weight
  • Nutrition
  • Exercise
  • Sleep duration
  • Smoking
  • Alcohol use
  • Risky driving

This revelation comes from a new study by Russell Barkley, Ph.D., published in the Journal of Attention Disorders.

The good news? Most of the ADHD-related factors impacting life expectancy — impulsivity, risky behavior, and inattention, to name a few — are changeable. Behavioral programs designed to improve overall health will improve life expectancy as well, but only if ADHD symptoms are under control first, Barkley says. And that requires more accurate diagnosis and more thoughtful treatment.

Because ADHD causes underlying problems with inhibition, self-regulation, and conscientiousness, leaving the condition untreated or insufficiently treated will cause most patients to fail in their efforts to live healthier lives. For diagnosed patients, physicians must focus on reducing impulsivity and behavioral inhibition problems with medication or cognitive behavioral interventions. Additionally, they must broaden their assessment lens to acknowledge that patients who fail repeatedly at self-change programs should be evaluated for underlying ADHD.

In the video, from his ADDitude webinar titled “How ADHD Shortens Life Expectancy: What Parents and Doctors Need to Know to Take Action,” Russell Barkley, Ph.D., explains different perspectives on outgrowing ADHD, and approaches to treatment.

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