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Polaris of Enlightenment

Increase in ADHD diagnoses in Norway during coronavirus policy

The covid repression

Published 17 September 2023
- By Editorial Staff

The number of ADHD diagnoses in Norway has increased significantly from 2020 to 2022, according to new figures. Among young women, there has been a doubling compared to 2019.

Over the past ten years, the number of ADHD diagnoses in Norway has been relatively stable, but between 2020 and 2022, the number of diagnoses has increased sharply in the country. New figures from the public health report Folkehelserapporten, which analyzes data from the Norwegian Patient Registry (NPR), show this.

The increase has been particularly high among girls and women, with a doubling of ADHD diagnoses in the ages of 16 to 24 compared to 2019. Among boys and men, the numbers have also increased, but not to the same extent as among women.

Between 2019 and 2022, the proportion of girls and women with an ADHD diagnosis increased from 1.5 percent to 3.1 percent in the ages of 16-19, and from 1 percent to 2.2 percent in the ages of 20-24. The specific reasons for the significant increase in diagnoses in connection with coronavirus policies are unclear, but it is speculated that more may have been caught in connection with homeschooling.

A possible explanation is that ADHD symptoms became more visible to the family when children spent more time at home. It could also be that homeschooling in front of a screen became particularly challenging for children with ADHD, says Heidi Aase, head of the department for child health and development at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health.

In general, the number of people aged 12 to 24 diagnosed with mental disorders in Norway has also increased significantly during the same period. Among other things, there has been a sharp increase in eating disorders among girls and women.

When society shut down, there may have been fewer positive distractions, which could have led to a greater focus on one’s own body, eating, and exercise, says senior researcher Lasse Bang from the department for child health and development at the Norwegian Institute for Public Health.

The researchers emphasize that they still have limited knowledge about how lockdown policies have affected and will continue to affect the mental health of younger generations.

We still have limited knowledge about the long-term consequences the pandemic will have on the mental health of children and young people, and we must continue to monitor developments going forward, says Bang.

Similar trends are also noted in Sweden. For example, a total of 146,000 Swedes received ADHD medication in 2020, an increase from 130,000 the year before.

Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by persistent patterns of inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. It is commonly diagnosed in childhood but can continue into adulthood. Treatment often involves a combination of medication, such as stimulants, and behavioral therapy.

The condition can affect various aspects of life, including academic performance, occupational success, and interpersonal relationships.

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