ADHD Impairs Prospective Memory in Adults

9240550_sA good portion of children affected by attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) continue to experience symptoms into adulthood. ADHD can impair both cognitive and behavioral control, and according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, symptoms usually present prior to age seven. While children typically learn to control behavioral issues over time, the disorder still impacts the ability to focus, plan and perform various executive functions even as an adult.

What isn’t known is how ADHD might impact adults’ prospective memory. Prospective memory entails remembering details or events that are to occur in the future, such as showing up for a scheduled appointment. PhD candidate, Anselm B. M. Fuermaier of the Department of Clinical and Developmental Neuropsychology of the University of Groningen, the Netherlands sought to learn more about the disorder’s effects on prospective memory.

Participants were asked to plan for and complete an action that would occur in the future. Fuermaier examined a total of 90 adults – half who had been diagnosed with ADHD and half who had not been diagnosed with the disorder, to examine deficits in prospective memory. ADHD participants did not receive any medication to treat their condition.

Fuermaier found several discrepancies in prospective memory when comparing the two groups. For instance, the group with ADHD did not put as much detail into planning as their peers. They also didn’t plan as much as the control group when preparing for numerous upcoming events.

According to a recent article, those with ADHD also had a hard time taking the necessary steps to put their plans into action.  According to Fuermaier, prospective memory is essential for normal work and social interactions and also plays a role in successful treatment. Difficulty in remembering to attend therapy sessions or take required medications as directed can lead to poor treatment outcomes, including increased stress and anxiety, difficulty maintaining employment, and even physical sickness.

According to current figures, approximately two to five percent of adults worldwide live with ADHD. Untreated, these individuals may develop poor coping mechanisms to compensate for the disorder. Learn to control and manage your symptoms of ADHD instead of letting it control you – contact the Family Guidance Center and find out more about screenings and a treatment plan that fits your goals.