ADHD Around the World

Health Writer

A recent Share Post from Japan talks about how ADHD is not always accepted in other countries around the world and the pain that this can cause for individuals with ADHD. This post made me wonder just what people are saying about ADHD in other parts of the world and I went on a search around the internet to find out. Unfortunately, I am limited in searching out sites that are in English only as I do not speak or read other languages. For any readers out there that do or are from other countries, please share your experiences.

Here is some of what I found out:


I have visited Canada as a speaker for an ADD Group there. Many of the people told me that ADHD was accepted but they felt not as much so as in the United States. They felt that they needed to go to US websites to find the most up to date information.

ADHD Canada: A Canadian Resource on ADD/ADHD


There are a few message boards I visited from Ireland. Some people expressed their frustration with finding a doctor that would diagnose ADHD (also referred to as Hyperkinetic Disorder) and one person made a comment that ADHD was relatively new to doctors in that country. There is an Irish National Council for ADHD Support Groups and they have made a statement: "This condition affects 3 - 5% of the school-going population and in most cases, continues into adolescence and adulthood. Frequently ADHD predisposes a person to psychiatric and social difficulties. Left undiagnosed, it can have catastrophic consequences for sufferers and their families, as well as the community at large"


The NISC (National Inquiry Services Centre) of South Africa has a study listed on their site that in which 1384 children were tested for symptoms of ADHD. According to the study, the incident rate of ADHD in Nigeria was consistent with other studies around the world. The study found that males had a higher prevalence rate than females and that the overall prevalence rate was 8%. The study showed that there is "no significant geographical variation on the prevalence of ADHD."


In June 2007, Mexico hosted the First Latin American Consensus on ADHD. A team of 125 Latin American neuro-pediatricians and child psychiatrists came together to discuss scientific advances as well as to propose social, medical and economic measures needed to provide fair approaches to diagnosis and treatment of ADHD in Latin America.


The Children, Youth and Women's Health Service of South Australia has published an article on ADHD with information comparable to that found in the United States. According to this article, ADD and ADHD do exist. There is some controversy surrounding the number of children that have the condition. The numbers range from 2% to 18% of children, however, most of the studies indicate between 5% and 10% of children in Australia have ADD or ADHD.

Additionally, the Attention Deficit Disorders Association of South Australia includes a statement in facts about ADHD: "The 'controversy' of ADHD only exists in the media - the reality of ADHD is accepted in professional circles"


One study, as reported in the British Journal of Psychiatry, regarding the diagnosis and prevalence of boys in China indicated that the disorder of ADHD does exist in China however, the prevalence of ADHD was seen as lower than in Western studies.

In another report, however, it was indicated that 5% of school age children suffer from ADHD and that ADHD patients were 5 to 10 times more vunerable to become criminals, alcoholics and drug addicts. The article went on to indicate that parents surveyed were unhappy with the clinical diagnosis and treatment their child received. Many parents in China see the symptoms of ADHD as ordinary characteristics of childhood while others do not accept that their child may suffer from a mental disorder. Dr. Wang Yufeng, an expert of children's mental illnesses encourages parents to "keep the right attitude toward the disease" and to seek medical treatment when necessary.


I had a more difficult time finding information on ADHD prevalence and viewpoints; however, I did find a study published in August 2007 in the Journal of Attention Disorders that indicated 8.9% of boys and 3.6% of girls had positive ratings in either inattention or hyperactivity. Boys with ADHD symptoms showed higher levels of delinquency (violent and non-violent) and had more conduct problems and depression symptoms.

United Kingdom

The United Kingdom seemed to have a great deal of information on ADHD and their views seemed to be similar to those in the United States. However, diagnosis and treatment do not seem to be as prevalent as in the United States. According to an article on the site, Dr. Levin writes, "a large percentage of our population are not only, not receiving treatment, they do not even know why they have problems. Lack of knowledge and insight particularly in schools cannot help and misinformation is a major factor fostered by media sensationalism."


A study completed by Ehsan-ullah Syed, Haider Naqvi and Sajida Abdul Hussein and reported July, 2006 indicated when diagnostic tests were performed on students in Pakistan it was found that there were similar results to studies conducted in the West. Clinical characteristics, prevalence and the existence of co-existing conditions were all shown to have similar statistical reports. Also, as with Western documentation, stimulant medication was thought to play a large part in the treatment of ADHD, with behavior modification second. However, as Pakistan is a developing country, there are few specialists and poor awareness by parents, teachers and medical professionals. There is also resistance to the used of medication to treat ADHD by both parents and doctors.


Although I could possibly continue this for many days, seeking information on different countries throughout the world, I have decided to complete my research here. It is not that there is not more information to be found or that I am no longer interested, it is that I have found that ADHD exists throughout the world; it is not just an "American" diagnosis, as some people would have you believe. Statistics, over and over, show the same. In one study, it was indicated that when there are differences in statistics, it is not geographic reasons that create the discrepancy, but it is the varying methodology used in studies that create differences. This study further stated that the average prevalence rate, throughout the world is 5.29%.

I welcome comments and stories of how different people from around the world cope and manage ADHD symptoms in their daily lives. What are your experiences? Do you know of someone from a different country that could share his or her story? Pass this along and let's together explore ADHD Around the World.