Do More People Have ADHD?

With all the interest in ADHD in recent years, it certainly seems like more people have the condition. But is that really the case? The answer is a little more complicated than a simple "yes" or "no."

It's definitely true that the number of ADHD diagnoses has been shooting up. In the 1990s, about 6% of children were diagnosed with ADHD. That number climbed to 10% by 2010. The rate of adult ADHD diagnosis appears to be rising even faster. In fact, a study found a 123% increase in ADHD prevalence in adults between 2007 and 2016.

A number of things may be contributing to these increases. Growing awareness and reduced stigma surrounding ADHD are certainly major factors. But some clinicians suggest that there could also be environmental factors at play, such as sleep deprivation, blue light-emitting devices, poor nutrition, and prenatal exposure to certain medications or chemicals.

While we do know that the number of people being diagnosed is going up, it's unclear whether that means more people actually have ADHD now compared to years past. Are more people developing ADHD, or are more people recognizing the symptoms because it's being talked about more openly?