Two in five adults with ADHD have excellent mental health

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Scientists from the University of Toronto found two in five adults (42%) with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) were in excellent mental health.

To be considered in excellent mental health, participants had to report: freedom from mental illness in the previous year (i.e., substance use disorders, depression, anxiety, suicidality); almost daily happiness or life satisfaction in the past month; and high levels of social and psychological well-being in the past month.

This finding provides a very hopeful message for both individuals struggling with ADHD and their loved ones.

The research is published in the International Journal of Applied Positive Psychology and was conducted by Esme Fuller-Thomson et al.

In the study, the team examined a nationally representative sample of 480 respondents with ADHD and 21,099 respondents without ADHD.

They found several factors that were associated with complete mental health among those with ADHD.

Individuals who were free from chronic pain and had no lifetime history of depression or anxiety were more likely to be thriving.

The findings emphasize the importance of addressing comorbid mental health issues when providing care to individuals with ADHD.

Those with ADHD who also struggle with depression and anxiety face substantial barriers to achieving complete mental health, and may 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 were associated with complete mental health include being married, being physically active, and using spirituality to cope with daily challenges.

The team says these results highlight potentially modifiable risk factors to support the well-being of adults with ADHD.

When compared to being sedentary, engaging in optimal levels of physical activity approximately quadrupled the odds of complete mental health.

This underlines 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 be in complete mental health, such as women.

The prevalence of complete mental health among those without ADHD was 73.8%, which was significantly higher than the 42.0% of individuals with ADHD who were in complete mental health.

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