Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a mental health disorder characterized by an ongoing pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity that interferes with the individual’s functioning or development. Commonly diagnosed in children and teenagers, the condition can also affect adults.
Several factors such as genes, environment and brain injuries can lead to the development of ADHD, which, in turn, can cause forgetfulness, anxiety, low self-esteem, problems at work and inability to control anger. A person is also likely to lack focus, which puts him/her at a greater risk of meeting with accidents, and sometimes, even death.
In a recent study published in the JAMA Psychiatry in May 2017, it has been found that the rate of car accidents is dramatically lower among medicated ADHD patients in the United States than among those who do not take any medicines for the condition. Zheng Chang, the lead author of the study and a researcher in the Department of Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics at Karolinska Institute in Sweden, said that the core symptoms of ADHD such as, inattention and impulsivity are the major factors that interfere with an individual’s ability to drive safely. This, in turn, puts people with ADHD at a greater risk of accidents and injuries.
Non-medicated ADHD patients at higher risk
The study results are based on data collected from the health insurance claims between 2005 to 2014. More than 2.3 million Americans, above 18 years with ADHD were identified, of which, approximately 83.9 percent (more than 1.9 million) people had received at least one prescription for ADHD medication. The average age of those receiving the medications was 32 years.
The data for emergency room (ER) visits of patients who met with a car accident and were driving during the same period was used to compare the risk of a car crash during months when patients had filled a prescription for their ADHD medication with the months when no prescription had been filled. It was found that 11,224 ADHD patients had visited an ER after a car accident.
On comparing this data with a control group, it was found that people with ADHD had a higher risk of car crashes than the control group. On this observation, Chang said, “Male ADHD patients had a 38 percent lower risk of (motor vehicle crashes) when receiving ADHD medication compared to when not receiving medication, and female patients had a 42 percent lower risk of (motor vehicle crashes) when medicated.”
Treating ADHD to ensure safe driving
Although the study authors agree that the study has flaws due to inadequate data, they have estimated that it was possible to avoid up to 22.1 percent car crashes by providing medication to patients with ADHD.
To diagnose a person with ADHD, it is important to look for chronic symptoms of inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity. The best way to help someone diagnosed with ADHD is to seek intervention from a medical expert. Apart from this, one can also opt for some self-help techniques such as regular exercise, taking proper sleep, eating right, practicing meditation and yoga, and the likes. Attending therapy sessions such as talk therapy, family therapy and cognitive-behavioral therapy can also be of great help.
If there’s someone you know who is dealing with ADHD or any other form of mental illness, Sovereign Health can assist him/her with information about the mental health treatment centers in Los Angeles. Call our 24/7 helpline number 866-973-7164 or chat online with one of our experts who can help you connect with the best mental health facilities in Los Angeles.