Some People Develop ADHD in their Adult Years

'ADHD patient'

Until recently, ADHD was considered a children’s disorder, but a new study suggests that it affects adults too.

A group of British researchers has found that in some cases ADHD does not emerge until adulthood.

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a condition that usually affects only children, but researchers have evidence that adults can develop it too. Until now, scientists had thought that there isn’t a distinct form of ADHD in adulthood, but a continuation of childhood ADHD.

King’s College London Researchers found that 70 percent of their adult patients diagnosed with ADHD in adulthood had no symptoms when they were children. Instead, patients affected by adult ADHD had full-fledged symptoms of the disorder including other mental health conditions.

The recent study, which was published this week in the journal JAMA Psychiatry, suggests that adult ADHD may have different causes to childhood ADHD.

The study results are consistent with the observations of other studies including a Brazilian research paper who had revealed that many adults with ADHD did not have the developmental disorder in their childhood. New Zealand researchers had confirmed the Brazilian study as well.

King’s College London study involved more than 2,000 twin adults diagnosed with ADHD. Participants were screened for ADHD when they were, 5, 7, 10 and 12 years old. Scientists based their assessments on parent and teacher reports. Adults were assessed personally as soon as they reached 18.

Scientists also found that adult ADHD is less genetically determined than its childhood version since a sibling of a twin with a childhood onset of the disease did not necessarily develop the condition in their adult years.

Dr Jessica Agnew-Blais, lead author of the U.K. study, noted that her team was intrigued by the many cases of late-onset in ADHD population. So, they were curious to learn what exactly triggered ADHD in adult years.

The team originally speculated that today’s ADHD adult patients may have been yesterday’s protected children whose symptoms hadn’t been so blatant due to family and peer support. But study authors did not rule out the possibility of a distinct disorder.

As a follow-up, the researchers plan to further analyze adult DHD to see whether it may be tied to underlying mental health disorders. According to the study’s background info, just 4 percent of adults develop ADHD. Study authors added that it is crucial to find the right treatments for adult ADHD as well.

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