Actor and singer says behavioural condition ‘sort of runs in my family’
Lily Allen has disclosed that she was recently diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) while in the US.
The actor and singer, who moved to New York City in 2020, said that she had to completely switch off from social media as a result of her diagnosis.
ADHD is a behavioural condition defined by inattentiveness, hyperactivity and impulsiveness.
The 37-year-old, who grew up in west London, told the Times: “I’ve actually just been diagnosed with adult ADHD.
“I’ve had to completely switch off social media because as soon as I look at it, it can be hours of my day gone.”
Allen, who lives with her husband, the Stranger Things actor David Harbour, and her two daughters, Ethel and Marnie, added that she was not surprised by her diagnosis.
“It sort of runs in my family. And it [the diagnosis] is only because I’m here in America where they take these things slightly more seriously than they do in England.
“I went to see someone and they said: ‘Have you ever thought about this?’ And I said: ‘Well, yes I have.’”
Allen, who made her theatre debut in 2:22 A Ghost Story in 2021, will appear in her first televised role in April, in new Sky comedy drama Dreamland, about four sisters in Margate. She plays Mel, who returns to her home town having left to pursue a career in fashion in Paris.
Admitting that she enjoys a secluded lifestyle in real life, Allen said: “I live quite a separate life from everybody now that I’m over here in America. I’m a bit of a loner, a bit of an isolationist.”
In January, the Guardian reported that awareness of ADHD in women had increased in the UK in the past year, but that experts warned waiting times for diagnosis and a lack of clinical awareness were leaving people in a perilous position.
Dr Max Davie, a consultant paediatrician and co-founder of ADHD UK, said people talking openly about their diagnoses – such as the Loose Women presenter Nadia Sawalha – had led to more people seeking referrals for the condition.
Numerous high-profile individuals have spoken about being diagnosed later in life in recent months, including the actor and former Great British Bake Off host Sue Perkins, 53, and comedian and actor Johnny Vegas, diagnosed aged 52.
An estimated 170,000 identified patients were prescribed at least one drug for ADHD between July and September 2022, a 20.4% increase from the 141,000 identified patients during the same period in 2021.
Dr Tony Lloyd, the chief executive of the ADHD Foundation, said its own figures suggested a 400% increase in the number of adults seeking a diagnosis since 2020, adding that prescription volumes did not take account of those who do not use medication.
The NHS says that most cases are diagnosed when children are under 12 years old, but the condition is sometimes diagnosed later in childhood or in adulthood.
For adults with ADHD, medicine is often the first treatment offered, while psychological therapies such as cognitive behavioural therapy can also help, the NHS said.
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