Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is typically diagnosed in children between the ages of 5-12 years. Given its widespread occurrence in children, it is often defined as a ‘children’s disorder.’ After all, the hyperactive, inattentive, and impulsive generally show up during the school-going years. But what happens when these children with ADHD grow older? Does ADHD get worse or better with age?
Do people eventually outgrow these symptoms over time?
Medical experts in the 1980s-90s used to believe that the symptoms of ADHD would eventually fade out as the child undergoes development during their teenage and early adulthood years. The belief partly stemmed from a lack of proper research in the field. However, as research expanded in the field, all these beliefs were overturned.
Studies now show that children diagnosed with ADHD often do not grow out of it. According to research published on the National Library of Medicine, some children might outgrow ADHD by age 21-27. However, the whole condition or significant symptoms related to it persist in about 50-86% of cases that were diagnosed during childhood years. Let us dive deeper into how does ADHD get worse or better with age and what significant changes are associated with growing age.
Read more: ADHD In Children: Myths And Facts.
Does ADHD get worse with growing age?
Symptoms of ADHD do not generally get worse with growing age. However, adults might experience symptoms fluctuating in intensity, as per research by the American Journal of Psychiatry.
ADHD is usually defined by symptoms of impulsivity and hyperactiveness. These symptoms occur due to developmental delays caused by specific structural changes in the brain. Therefore, even though the symptoms and the ability to deal with them can improve with growing age, these structural changes might not go away.
The symptoms of ADHD also change as they go into adulthood due to a number of other factors. This includes the coping strategies and mechanisms that a person gains during the growing years dealing with the condition. As people get older, their ADHD symptoms become more about being restless rather than about being impulsive or hyperactive. Trouble in paying attention becomes one of the major concerns for adults with ADHD.
Symptoms of ADHD in adults include:
- difficulty in focusing,
- relationship issues,
- problems with holding a job or getting proper employment opportunities,
- low self-esteem, and
- negative outlook towards life stemming from dealing with ADHD all through life.
Does ADHD ever completely go away?
As per research by HHS Public Access, 15% of children having ADHD grow up to become adults with ADHD. 65% of children develop personality traits that are similar to symptoms of ADHD. However, the severity of these traits is not a concern in the regular day-to-day functioning of the individual.
The factors that might cause ADHD to persist into adulthood include:
- severe symptoms as a child, and
- having other mental health disorders, including depression along with ADHD.
ADHD is a lifelong condition. However, it does get better or worse in people with age. The symptoms it causes, the impact of the condition on people’s lives, and the overall functioning of the individual are bound to change as they grow older. However, proper support and professional help are key to recovering well from the condition.
Therapy is a potent solution to fighting ADHD. Getting therapy has become even more accessible with the advent of online therapy platforms. To know more about affordable online therapy platforms, click here.
To continue learning about mental health daily, subscribe to Your Mental Health Pal.