Adult-onset ADHD may not exist, study suggests

Posted on May 9, 2018

Onset of ADHD is most common in childhood; around 11 percent of children aged 4–17 years in the United States have ever been diagnosed with the condition. Around two thirds of children with ADHD will continue to have the disorder into adulthood, and it is not uncommon for an ADHD diagnosis to be made in adulthood. According to the Attention Deficit Disorder Association, around 5 percent of adults in the U.S. have ADHD.

The new study, however, suggests that the vast majority of people who are diagnosed with ADHD in later life may not actually have the condition, raising questions about whether or not onset of the condition occurs in adulthood at all. The research was conducted by Margaret H. Sibley, of the Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine at Florida International University in Miami, and her colleagues.

They conducted a longitudinal analysis of 239 individuals, all of whom were free of childhood ADHD. Each of the subjects was assessed every 2 years between the ages of 10 and 25. For the biennial assessments, the team looked at the emergence of ADHD symptoms as well as evidence of substance abuse, cognitive impairments, and mental health disorders. The results were collected in the forms of self-reports and reports from parents and teachers.

It was found that the adult-onset symptoms were traced back to childhood or were better explained by other problems, like the cognitive effects of heavy marijuana use, psychological trauma, or depressive symptoms that affect concentration." Furthermore, they determined that in the absence of a history of psychiatric disorders, "there was no evidence for adult-onset ADHD." This calls for greater caution and discretion in clinical diagnosis for the symptoms to be treated accordingly.

Category(s):Adult ADHD

Source material from Medical News Today

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