Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) (2023)


Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)is one of the most common childhood disorders and can persist into adolescence and adulthood. Symptoms include difficulty staying focused and paying attention, difficulty controlling behavior, and hyperactivity (hyperactivity).

More information about ADHD can be found atNIMH Health Topics page for Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder.

Trends in the prevalence of ADHD diagnosis in children

  • Based on data from parent reports from the National Survey of Children's Health (NSCH), Figure 1 shows trends in the prevalence of U.S. children ages 4 to 17 who have ever been diagnosed with ADHD by a healthcare provider.1
    • The prevalence of children ever diagnosed with ADHD increased by 42% between 2003 (7.8%) and 2011 (11.0%).
    • Men had a consistently higher prevalence of ADHD than women between 2003 and 2011.

Figure 1

Trends in the prevalence of children ever diagnosed with ADHD (2003,2007,2011)
YearTotal populationFemaleMale

Age of onset

  • Based on data from the NSCH, the median age at which children with current ADHD started was six years old.1
  • More severe cases of ADHD in children, as described by parents, were diagnosed earlier.
    • The average age of diagnosisstrictADHD was 4 years old.
    • The average age of diagnosismoderateADHD was 6 years old.
    • The average age of diagnosismildADHD was 7 years old.
  • About one-third of children diagnosed with ADHD retain the diagnosis into adulthood.2

Treatment for ADHD in children

  • Medication can be used to effectively treat symptoms of impulsivity, inattention, and hyperactivity and is the most effective treatment for reducing ADHD symptoms.1
  • Figure 2 is based on data from the NSCH and shows medication use in children with ADHD in 2011. An estimated 69.3% of children with a current diagnosis of ADHD received medication for ADHD.
  • Drug use increased by 4% overall between 2007 and 2011, especially among male adolescents.1

Figure 2

Medication use in children diagnosed with ADHD (2011)
Use of medicinesPercent
Do not take any medications at this time30,7
You are currently taking medication69,3

Prevalence of ADHD among adolescents

  • Based on diagnostic interview data from the National Comorbidity Survey-Adolescent Supplement (NCS-A), Figure 3 shows the lifetime prevalence of ADHD among US adolescents aged 13 to 18 years.3,4
    • The lifetime prevalence of ADHD was 8.7%.
    • Nearly half of all cases showed severe damage (4.2%). The criteria for disorders were based on the fourth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV).
    • ADHD affected three times more men (13.0%) than women (4.2%).

figure 3

Lifetime prevalence of ADHD among US adolescents (2001-2004)
In total8.7
With Severe Damage4.2


Prevalence of ADHD among adults

  • Based on diagnostic interview data from the National Comorbidity Survey Replication (NCS-R), Figure 4 shows the estimated prevalence of adults aged 18 to 44 years with a current diagnosis of ADHD.5
    • The overall prevalence of current ADHD in adults is 4.4%.
    • The prevalence was higher in men (5.4%) than in women (3.2%).
    • The non-Hispanic White group (5.4%) had a higher prevalence than all other race/ethnicity groups.
  • The estimated lifetime prevalence of ADHD in US adults aged 18 to 44 was 8.1%.6

Figure 4

Prevalence of Current ADHD Among US Adults (2001-2003)
In total4.4


Data sources

bibliographic references

  1. Visser SN, Danielson ML, Bitsko RH, Holbrook JR, Kogan MD, Ghandour RM, Perou R, Blumberg SJ. Trends in parents' reports of diagnosed and treated attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder: United States, 2003-2011.J Am Acad Kinderpsychiatrie.2014 januari;53(1):34-46.e2.PMID: 24342384
  2. Barbaresi WJ, Colligan RC, Weaver AL, Voigt RG, Killian JM, Katusic SK. Mortality, ADHD, and Psychosocial Adversity in Adults with Childhood ADHD: A Prospective Study.Pediatrics.2013 april; 131 (4): 637-44.PMID: 23460687
  3. Merikangas KR, He JP, Burstein M, Swanson SA, Avenevoli S, Cui L, Benjet C, Georgiades K, Swendsen J. Lifetime prevalence of mental disorders in US adolescents: results from the National Comorbidity Survey Replication - Adolescent Supplement (NCS - A ).J Am Acad Kinderpsychiatrie.2010 Oct;49(10):980-9.PMID: 20855043
  4. NCS-A Estimates of lifespan and prevalence of 12 million. 2005?
  5. Kessler RC, Adler L, Barkley R, Biederman J, Conners CK, Demler O, Faraone SV, Greenhill LL, Howes MJ, Secnik K, Spencer T, Ustun TB, Walters EE, Zaslavsky AM. Prevalence and Correlates of Adult ADHD in the United States: Results from the National Comorbidity Survey Replication.Ben J Psychiatry.2006 april; 163 (4): 716-23.PMID: 16585449
  6. Kessler RC, Berglund P, Demler O, Jin R, Merikangas KR, Walters EE. Lifetime prevalence and age distribution of DSM-IV disorders in the replication of the National Comorbidity Survey.Archgeneral of Psychiatry.2005 Jun;62(6):593-602.PMID: 15939837

Statistical Methods and Notes on Measurements

This website presents data from three sources.

National Child Health Survey (NSCH)

  • The CDC's NSCH is a national cross-sectional telephone survey of children's physical and mental health conducted in 2003, 2007, and 2011. The NSCH is administered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Health Statistics under the direction and sponsorship from the Office of Maternal and Child Health, Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). The survey provides parent-reported data for children/adolescents with ADHD aged 4 to 17 years. Between February 2011 and June 2012, 95,677 interviews were conducted. The completion rates for fixed and mobile interviews were 54.1% and 41.2%, respectively, for an overall response rate of 23.0%.
  • For more information, seePMID: 24342384InCDC's NSCH FAQ page.

National Comorbidity Survey Adolescent Supplement (NCS-A)

Diagnostic Evaluation and Population:

  • The NCS-A was conducted under a collaborative agreement funded by the NIMH to fulfill a Congressional request for national data on the prevalence and association of mental disorders among American youth. The NCS-A was a nationally representative, face-to-face survey of 10,123 adolescents ages 13 to 18 in the continental United States. ADHD was assessed in a subgroup of 8,470 adolescents. The study was based on a twin-framework design that involved 904 adolescent household residents participating in the U.S. National Comorbidity Survey of Adults and 9,244 adolescent college students selected from a nationally representative sample of 320 schools. The study was conducted between February 2001 and January 2004. DSM-IV mental disorders were assessed using a modified version of the World Health Organization's fully structured Comprehensive International Diagnostic Interview.

Non-response survey:

  • The overall adolescent non-response rate was 24.4%. This consists of non-response rates of 14.1% in the sample of households, 18.2% in the sample of non-blind schools, and 77.7% in the sample of blind schools. The non-response was largely due to denial (21.3%), which came largely from parents rather than adolescents (72.3% and 81.0%, respectively) in the samples of households and non-blind schools. In contrast, the refusals in the sample of blind schools came almost entirely (98.1%) from parents who had not returned the signed consent card.
  • For more information, seePMID: 19507169.

Copy of the National Comorbidity Survey (NCS-R)

Diagnostic Evaluation and Population:

  • The NCS-R is a nationally representative personal survey of households conducted between February 2001 and April 2003 with a response rate of 70.9%. Mental disorders in the DSM-IV were assessed using a modified version of the World Health Organization's fully structured Composite International Diagnostic Interview (WMH-CIDI), a fully structured, non-medically administered diagnostic interview that also creates the International Classification of Diseases ,10uDSM-IV assessment and diagnoses. DSM-IV criteria were used for this. Participants in the main interview were a total of 9,282 English-speaking, non-statutory, non-political respondents. ADHD was assessed for a subgroup of 3,199 respondents aged 18 to 44 years. The NCS-R was led by Harvard University.

Non-response survey:

  • In 2001-2002, the non-response was 29.1% of the primary respondents and 19.6% of the secondary respondents.
  • Reasons for not responding to the interview included: refusal to participate (7.3% of primary, 6.3% of secondary). The respondent was reluctant - too busy, but did not refuse (17.7% of primary, 11.6% of secondary). occasional, such as an intellectual developmental disorder or a foreign assignment (2.0% of primary education, 1.7% of secondary education) and there has never been contact with households (2.0%).
  • For more information, seePMID: 15297905.


Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Golda Nolan II

Last Updated: 30/08/2023

Views: 5425

Rating: 4.8 / 5 (58 voted)

Reviews: 81% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Golda Nolan II

Birthday: 1998-05-14

Address: Suite 369 9754 Roberts Pines, West Benitaburgh, NM 69180-7958

Phone: +522993866487

Job: Sales Executive

Hobby: Worldbuilding, Shopping, Quilting, Cooking, Homebrewing, Leather crafting, Pet

Introduction: My name is Golda Nolan II, I am a thoughtful, clever, cute, jolly, brave, powerful, splendid person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.