Do People Outgrow ADHD?

What’s New in Psychology?

Do People Outgrow ADHD?   

 Jim Windell    

            Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is characterized by two main cluster of symptoms: Inattention and Hyperactivity/impulsiveness.

           The inattentive symptoms include disorganization, forgetfulness, and having trouble staying on task. The hyperactive, impulsive symptoms include having a lot of energy, and for children manifests itself often as running around and climbing on things. In adulthood, this symptom usually appears as verbal impulsivity, difficulty with decision-making, and not thinking before acting.

           ADHD is estimated to affect roughly five to 10 percent of the population. As this article, published in the American Journal of Psychiatry points out, there was a belief that was first put forward in the mid-1990s that 50 percent of children outgrow ADHD. However, many of the studies that suggested this were based on minimal contact with people who had been diagnosed with ADHD in childhood. Therefore, previous researchers didn't get to see that the ADHD that they thought had gone away actually does come back.

           This study followed a group of 558 children with ADHD for 16 years; from age eight to age 25. There were eight assessments – one was completed every two years – to determine whether the participants still had symptoms of ADHD. Researchers also asked family members and teachers about the participant’s symptoms.

           Research results indicated that most children diagnosed with ADHD do not outgrow the disorder. ADHD just manifests itself in adulthood in different ways while waxing and waning over a lifetime.

           “Although intermittent periods of remission can be expected in most cases,” the study reported, “90% of children with ADHD in the Multimodal Treatment Study of ADHD continued to experience residual symptoms into young adulthood.”

           “It's important for people diagnosed with ADHD to understand that it's normal to have times in your life where things maybe more unmanageable and other times when things feel more under control,” said 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.

           Although research has yet to find what causes ADHD to flare up, Sibley said it could be stress, the wrong environment, and not having a healthy lifestyle of proper sleep, healthy eating, and regular exercise. Also, if a person is not taking the time to manage symptoms or is not finding out what really works best for them, then the symptoms may get out of control.

           Medication and therapy are the two main treatments for ADHD. But, Sibley said, people can pursue their own healthy coping skills as well. She and her fellow researchers found that most people who technically no longer meet 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.”

           It is recommended by Sibley that the time to seek professional help is when the symptoms are causing a problem in your life. This includes not performing your best, problems with other people, having a hard time getting along, difficulty maintaining healthy, long-term relationships with loved ones and friends, and inability to complete basic daily tasks. Those daily tasks that might be difficult for someone still experiencing the symptoms of ADHD include parenting, staying on top of finances, or just keeping an organized household.

           To read the original article, find it with this reference:

Margaret H. Sibley, L. Eugene Arnold, James M. Swanson, Lily T. Hechtman, Traci M. Kennedy, Elizabeth Owens, Brooke S.G. Molina, Peter S. Jensen, Stephen P. Hinshaw, Arunima Roy, Andrea Chronis-Tuscano, Jeffrey H. Newcorn, Luis A. Rohde. Variable Patterns of Remission From ADHD in the Multimodal Treatment Study of ADHD. American Journal of Psychiatry, 2021; appi.ajp.2021.2 DOI: 10.1176/appi.ajp.2021.21010032


Share this post:

Comments on "Do People Outgrow ADHD? "

Comments 0-5 of 0

Please login to comment