While attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder is most usually thought of as a disease of childhood, diagnosis and treatment of ADHD has grown faster among adults. And while drugs to treat ADHD, including Adderall and Concerta, are most commonly used in boys, in adulthood it is women who are prescribed more frequently. Again, the differences may relate to the fact that boys' mental health problems are more clearly visible in their misbehavior, while adult women are more likely to seek mental health treatment.
Currently, an estimated 5.4 million children and teens have been diagnosed with ADHD. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the percentage of children with a parent-reported ADHD diagnosis rose 22% between 2003 and 2007. Drug use, meanwhile, rose 11% in boys and 39% in girls between 2001 and 2010.
Among adults, women aged 20 to 44 were most likely to use ADHD drugs; rates of use leaped 264% from 2001 to 2010. In women aged 45 to 64, that rate rose 139% over the same time period.
More than 1 in 5 American adults now takes at least one type of medication to treat a psychological or behavioral disorder, a 22% rise since 2001, according to a new report by Medco Health Solutions, which monitors drug trends in insurance claims. Does that mean Americans are overmedicating their minds?