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More Adults Using ADHD Medications

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A new report shows more adults are taking ADHD medications. That's according to a new report from Express Scripts, the nation's largest prescription drug manager. 
From 2008 to 2012, the report shows the number of American adults using ADHD medication has nearly doubled. Children are still the primary users of these kinds of medicines, but the amount of adults using these drugs is increasing at a much faster pace. 

What's also interesting is the gender differences in this report. Young males using ADHD medications falls dramatically after age 18. But it's the direct opposite for females. More women ages 19-25 use these drugs than young girls. 

One local doctor explained what may be causing this increase overall for adults.

"We are seeing a lot more adults coming in to the clinic asking about adult ADD," said Genesis family physician Dr. Brian Anderson. "I think a lot of it is a awareness."

Dr. Brian Anderson said he's always seen a steady stream of children coming into his practice with ADHD, but he said there's definitely been an increase of adults over the last few years.

"Since we recognize it better and we have better medications it's far more likely that an adult that may not have been fully recognized as a child or who didn't have the option for medication, now they do," said Dr. Anderson.

He said some of the cause of ADHD is technology and constantly being wired into several devices and activities.

"Our lives have certainly become more stressful and there are lot more distractions and some people are finding it hard to deal with those," said Dr. Anderson.

Although, he said many of the adults taking ADHD drugs now, may be taking these prescriptions and not actually needing them.

"If they give me no history of it as a child or a questionable history, I usually have them go for some formal testing to help me decide is it ADD, is a another mental disorder or is it something else entirely?" said Dr. Anderson.

He said sometimes instead of ADHD, it could be anxiety or a depression disorder. 

Adults who come to him with ADHD often explain symptoms like this:

"Primarily it's the attention focus," said Dr. Anderson. "You're set to a task, you find your mind wandering. You find your eyes wandering to other things. Small distractions at the corner of your eye that might not bother someone else can be a big issue for you. Sometimes there's some sleeplessness problems, sometimes there's some excessive worry."

Instead of taking medications, he said behavior modifications can also help with ADHD like reducing stress, distractions, eating well and exercising. 

"Just because you're diagnosed with ADD does not mean that you're going to be disabled for life, nor does it mean you have to be on medication," said Dr. Anderson.

Another finding in this report shows the distribution of ADHD medications being used throughout the United States. The concentration of these drugs shows to be most prevalent in the South. For example, the rate of ADHD medications being used in South Carolina is 72% higher than the national average. 

The reports said there are many reasons why the Southern region has a higher concentration of the use of these drugs, but one contributor might be the lack of access to behavioral specialists who can properly diagnosis the illness. 

Dr. Anderson said if you suspect your child may have ADHD, start with asking their teachers what they've noticed in the classroom. 


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