Long-Term Treatment for Adult ADHD

Adult ADHD patients may have better functioning after more than two years of drug treatment

(RxWiki News) Adults with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are often prescribed medications to treat their condition. However, there hasn't been much research on the long-term outcomes of such treatment.

So researchers recently surveyed a group of adults with ADHD about their treatment and ADHD symptoms.

Results showed that adults ADHD patients who received drug treatment for more than two years had fewer symptoms and less psychological distress compared to those treated for two years or less.

"See your doctor if you're experiencing ADHD."

The study was led by Michael B. Lensing, MA, of Oslo University Hospital in Norway.

For their research, Lensing and colleagues gave a questionnaire to more than 1,000 adults diagnosed with ADHD and approved for drug treatment between 2003 and 2005.

A total of 1,080 participants remained for the follow-up portion of the study, but only 371 agreed to participate. Of these, 368 reported ever having been treated with ADHD medication.

The researchers were interested in two main outcomes: scores on the Adult ADHD Self-Report Scale version 1.1 (ASRS) Screener and scores from the Mental Health Index-5 (MHI-5).

The ASRS is a questionnaire used to help adults recognize the signs and symptoms of adult ADHD. It consists of 18 questions that asks patients how they felt and behaved over the past six months. Questions include, "How often do you have difficulty getting things in order when you have to do a task that requires organization," "How often do you fidget or squirm with your hands or feet when you have to sit down for a long time," and "How often are you distracted by activity or noise around you?" Patients may receive an ASRS score of up to 18, with higher scores indicating more symptoms.

The MHI-5 is a five item questionnaire that asks patients how they have felt over the past month. Questions include, "During the past month, how much of the time were you a happy person," and "How much of the time, during the past month, did you feel so down in the dumps that nothing could cheer you up?" Scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating mental well-being and a lack of psychological distress.

Of the 368 study participants, 270 (73.4 percent) had received drug treatment for more than two years. 

These patients reported better outcomes on both the ASRS and the MHI-5. Patients treated for more than two years scored about 12.8 on the ASRS, while patients treated for two years or less scored about 15.3.

Patients treated for more than two years scored about 63.7 on the MHI-5. In comparison, patients treated for two years or less scored about 57.7.

The authors concluded, "In adults with ADHD, [drug] treatment for more than two years was associated with better functioning than treatment for two years or less."

The study was published in January in The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry. Funding and disclosure information was unavailable.

Review Date: 
February 20, 2013