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New Manulife Data Shows Spike in Adult ADHD Diagnosis

  • Newly released report reveals a growing number of adults are being diagnosed and treated for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) – a trend that isn't showing any signs of slowing


September 21, 2023


Toronto –  Over the last five years, Manulife has seen a sharp spike in the number of adults submitting claims for ADHD medications, and newly released data suggests that this trend shows no signs of slowing. According to Manulife's latest Special Report on Employee Health Insights, from 2021 to 2022 the number of unique claimants for ADHD medication, ages 18 and over, grew by 24.5 per cent. This is compared to an average claimant growth rate of 15.3 per cent from 2017 – 2021.

"The data in our report provides relevant information for organizations to support them in making better-informed decisions to ensure their employees have access to the services and care they need," says Ashesh Desai, head of Group Benefits for Manulife Canada. "For example, our data reflects the understanding that ADHD is not simply something "you grow out of". The fact that this condition can – and clearly does – continue into adulthood is something that all employers should know."

According to CADDRA, the Canadian ADHD Resource Alliance, ADHD is one of the most common neurodevelopmental disorders in Canada, affecting 4-6% of adults and 5-7% of children, or approximately 1.8 million Canadians. When left untreated, ADHD can present alongside other mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety. This can lead to risk factors for several other health issues including heart disease and obesity, which can require people to take time off work.

The Manulife Special Report on Employee Health Insights takes a deep dive into the potential reasons for the uptick in diagnoses. According to the report, one of the primary factors driving the spike is an increase in overall awareness about ADHD. As doctors become better equipped to recognize the signs and symptoms of ADHD in adulthood, they can better differentiate it from other conditions.

"Increasing claims related to mental health concerns can indicate overall worsening mental health and increased prevalence of mental health diagnoses," says Dr. Steve Pomedli, Manulife's medical director of group benefits through Cleveland Clinic Canada. "But the increase we're seeing in ADHD, especially in the adult population, can also suggest improved awareness of this disorder and that more individuals are accessing needed services. In the long run, this can be seen as positive as individuals take proactive steps to improve their health and well-being."

The Manulife Special Report on Employee Health Insights also finds that an individual's work environment, especially the 'Work from Home' response during the Covid-19 pandemic, may have played a role in surfacing ADHD symptoms that were previously masked by structured work environments. Additionally, the report finds that the popularity of social media posts talking about the signs and symptoms of ADHD may be contributing to the increase of diagnosis. With billions of views across platforms, these posts are drawing attention to this disorder and as a result, more people are talking to their doctor about possible ADHD concerns.


Diagnosis of ADHD in Women

For decades, ADHD was diagnosed more in men than in women, but the Manulife Special Report on Employee Health Insights report suggests that this gap is rapidly closing. In fact, in 2022, the diagnosis ratio for ADHD was 53 per cent male to 47 per cent female. This is compared to five years ago, when it was 60 per cent male and 40 per cent female. While exact reasoning for this is not fully understood, according to the Cleveland Clinic, it could be due to how symptoms present: men typically tend to display more behaviours related to impulsivity or hyperactivity, whereas women more often exhibit symptoms related to inattentiveness – which may have contributed to underdiagnoses for decades.

As Manulife reported earlier this year, an average of 48 days – per employee – were lost in 2022 due to health‑related absences and presenteeism. "Our goal with our second Special Report on Employee Health Insights is to help ensure employees are set up for success," continues Desai. "With these insights, employers can better influence, mitigate, and stay ahead of the issues affecting the well-being of their employees and by doing so, create healthier workplaces that contribute to organizational success and bottom-line business results."

As a leading Group Benefits provider, Manulife has one of the largest and most comprehensive health data sets in the country (outside of government). By carefully analyzing the aggregated data, Manulife is able to better understand key drivers of health that can impact employee behaviour and ultimately impact health outcomes for Canadians.


Additional Information:
For more information, you can read the latesSpecial Report on Employee Health Insights prepared by Manulife.


About Manulife

Manulife Financial Corporation is a leading international financial services provider, helping people make their decisions easier and lives better. With our global headquarters in Toronto, Canada, we provide financial advice and insurance, operating as Manulife across Canada, Asia, and Europe, and primarily as John Hancock in the United States. Through Manulife Investment Management, the global brand for our Global Wealth and Asset Management segment, we serve individuals, institutions, and retirement plan members worldwide. At the end of 2022, we had more than 40,000 employees, over 116,000 agents, and thousands of distribution partners, serving over 34 million customers. We trade as 'MFC' on the Toronto, New York, and the Philippine stock exchanges and under '945' in Hong Kong. Not all offerings are available in all jurisdictions. For additional information, please visit


Media contact

Emily Vear