A new study found that two in five adults (42%) with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) were in excellent mental health.
The results were published in the International Journal of Applied Positive Psychology.
To be considered in excellent mental health, participants were required to report: absence of mental illness in the previous year (ie, substance use disorders, depression, anxiety, suicide); near-daily happiness or life satisfaction in the last month; and high levels of social and psychological well-being in the last month.
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“This finding provides a very hopeful message for individuals struggling with ADHD and their loved ones,” said lead author Esme Fuller-Thomson, a professor at the University of Toronto’s Factor-Inwentash School of Social Work and director of the Institute for Life Course. and Aging.
“This research marks a paradigm shift. Most previous research, including mine, has focused on mental illness among those with ADHD, so focusing on those who are mentally thriving is refreshing and very encouraging,” added Esme Fuller-Thomson.
The investigators examined a nationally representative sample of 480 respondents with ADHD and 21,099 respondents without ADHD from Statistics Canada’s Canadian Community Health-Mental Health Survey.
The study identified several factors associated with complete mental health among those with ADHD. Individuals free from chronic pain and with no life history of depression or anxiety were more likely to thrive.
“Our findings underscore the importance of addressing comorbid mental health issues when providing care to individuals with ADHD,” said co-author Bradyn Ko, a recent graduate of the University of Toronto’s Master of Social Work (MSW) program. “Those with ADHD who also struggle with depression and anxiety face substantial barriers to achieving complete mental health and can benefit from targeted care. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is a very promising intervention that has been shown to be effective for those with ADHD.”
Other factors that have been associated with complete mental health include being married, being physically active, and using spirituality to cope with daily challenges.
“These results highlight potentially modifiable risk factors to support the well-being of adults with ADHD,” said co-author Lauren Carrique, a recent MSW graduate from the University of Toronto. approximately quadrupled the chances of complete mental health. This highlights the potential value of physical activity in helping individuals with ADHD achieve excellent mental health.”
The study also identified specific subpopulations of adults with ADHD who may be less likely to have complete mental health, such as women.
“The finding that the women interviewed were less likely to have thriving mental health highlights specific vulnerabilities among women with ADHD,” said co-author Andie MacNeil, a recent graduate of Social Work at the University of Toronto. “This aligns with other research that has found higher rates of depression, anxiety and suicide among women with ADHD, which may partially explain this gap in mental well-being.”
The prevalence of complete mental health among those without ADHD was 73.8 percent, which was significantly higher than the 42.0 percent of individuals with ADHD who were in full mental health.
“While we were surprised and pleased to find that two out of five adults with ADHD were in excellent mental health, they are still far behind their non-ADHD peers, for which 74% were thriving. closing the mental health gap between those with and without ADHD,” Fuller-Thomson said. “This study draws attention to this gap, while emphasizing potential mechanisms to reduce this discrepancy.”
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