*The following is excerpted from an online article posted on MedicalXpress.
Most children diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD) don’t outgrow the disorder, as widely thought. It manifests itself in adulthood in different ways and waxes and wanes over a lifetime, according to a study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry.
Study authors from 16 institutions in the United States, Canada, and Brazil said decades of research characterize ADHD as a neurobiological disorder typically first detected in childhood that persists into adulthood in approximately 50% of cases. But this study found just 10% of children completely outgrow it.
“Although intermittent periods of remission can be expected in most cases, 90% of children with ADHD in the Multimodal Treatment Study of ADHD continued to experience residual symptoms into young adulthood,” they wrote.
ADHD is characterized by two main clusters of symptoms, according to researchers. The inattentive symptoms look like disorganization, forgetfulness, and having trouble staying on task. Then there are also the hyperactive, impulsive symptoms. In children, those symptoms look like having a lot of energy, such as running around and climbing on things. In adults, it manifests more as verbal impulsivity, difficulty with decision-making, and not thinking before acting. The disorder affects people differently and looks different depending on what phase of life someone’s in.
This study followed a group of 558 children with ADHD for 16 years—from 8-years old to 25 years old. The cohort had eight assessments, every two years, to determine whether they had symptoms of ADHD. The researchers also asked their family members and teachers about their symptoms.
Lead researcher Margaret Sibley, associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the University of Washington School of Medicine and a researcher at Seattle Children’s Research Institute said medication and therapy are the two main treatments for ADHD. But, Sibley said, people can pursue their own healthy coping skills as well.
Researchers found that most people who technically no longer meet the criteria for ADHD in adulthood still have some traces of ADHD, but they were managing well on their own.
“The key is finding a job or a life passion that ADHD does not interfere with,” Sibley said. “You are going to see a lot of creative people have ADHD because they’re able to be successful in their creative endeavors despite having ADHD, whereas people who might be required to do very detail-oriented work at a computer all day—that could be a really hard combination for a person with ADHD.”