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    The rise in late diagnosed ADHD

    The rise in late diagnosed ADHD

    Posted on February 25th, 2024

    What do the actor Barry Keoghan, singer Lily Allen and adventurer Ben Fogle all have in common? As well as being incredibly successful in their respected careers, each one was diagnosed with ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) as an adult. Late diagnosed ADHD is on the rise. In fact, according to recent research, between 2000 and 2018 there was a twenty-fold increase in ADHD diagnoses and a fifty-fold increase in ADHD prescriptions for men aged 18-29. Ahead of Neurodiversity Celebration Week, which runs 18th – 24th March, we explore the potential causes of this rise and explain how employers can support those with ADHD in the workplace.

    What is ADHD?

    ADHD is neurodevelopmental condition that is usually characterised as inattentive, hyperactive/impulsive, or a combination of the two. Typical traits include restlessness, inability to concentrate and impulsive behaviour. For many people with ADHD, these symptoms are often picked up by parents or teachers during their childhood years and a formal diagnosis of ADHD is given. However, as was the case with Barry Keoghan, Lily Allen and Ben Fogle, some people with ADHD have to wait much longer for their condition to be recognised and to receive their formal diagnosis.

    It is not known exactly what causes ADHD, however researchers believe there is a genetic link. They also believe that premature birth and low birth weight can also play a role, as can environmental factors such as exposure to alcohol and tobacco during pregnancy.

    Why is there is a rise in the number of people being diagnoses as having ADHD later in life?

    There is no single answer to this important question. Instead, the rise is most likely a result of a combination of various factors including:

    • Advances in how ADHD is defined: For example, we now understand that someone with ADHD could display hyperactivity, or inattentiveness, or both. Now that we have a clearer idea of what ADHD is, it is easier to diagnose it.
    • Increase in awareness amongst the general public: Thanks to greater understanding, those who suspect they may have ADHD are now more likely to speak to their GP about it and receive a diagnosis.
    • Decrease in stigma: This makes it easier for anyone who has been diagnosed with ADHD to talk more openly about it.

    How is it treated?

    Everyone is different, so what works in helping one person cope with ADHD may not necessarily work for someone else with ADHD. However, the most common forms of treatment include medication, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), and peer support groups.

    ADHD in the workplace

    For some people with ADHD, the workplace can present a number of challenges including:

    • Organising workloads
    • Focusing on tasks
    • Completing tasks to a deadline
    • General timekeeping and time management
    • Following instructions
    • Coping with work stress

    However, the role of an employer is to get the best of their staff and help them reach their full potential – making reasonable adjustments to help them achieve this if necessary. Suggestions for reasonable adjustments include recognising that someone with ADHD may find it hard to sit at a desk for more than an hour at a time, therefore giving them the freedom to go for a walk around the office and take their laptop elsewhere to work could make all the difference. So too could creating a quiet, breakout area where the employee could work if they feel they are getting too distracted at their usual desk. Another suggestion is to breakdown large assignments into smaller tasks with clear instructions.

    Recognising strengths

    It is important to remember that although those with ADHD may face certain challenges in the workplace, they can contribute a great deal too. Proactiveness, hyperfocus, resilience and ability to think outside the box are just a few of their key attributes which can be of huge benefit to any business.

    It is therefore essential that every employer educates their team to reduce the stigma of ADHD to create an open and inclusive culture that celebrates the unique qualities and strengths that someone with ADHD can bring to their business.

    Want to discuss ADHD further?

    If you or someone you know suspects they may have ADHD and you would like to speak to a healthcare professional about pursuing a formal diagnosis, make an appointment at YourGP. You can choose a date and time that suits you via our simple online booking system, or you can email You can also call us on 0131 225 5656 or arrange a call back via our website.

    Alternatively, if you would like to speak to our Occupational Health experts about ways you can make your business more inclusive to those with ADHD, email and we’ll be happy to arrange an appointment at a time that works for you.

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