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Published: June 22, 2018
Eric Mason

Adults and ADHD

By Eric K. Mason

Although there are people may grow out of ADHD in some cases, it often persist into adulthood. Indeed, some researchers argue that it is a lifelong disorder that many adults have simply learned to manage and have only learned improved coping skills over time. That is, they have not grown out of it, but there improved coping skills means that ADHD no longer causes significant problems in their lives.

In this regard, ADHD may be considered unique from many other mental health disorders, as it is not episodic. That is, it does not appear for discrete periods of time, such as is the case for some mental disorders like depression or anxiety. Indeed for those who have not learned to cope with it, problems often persist or worsen into adulthood resulting in lifelong impairment from ADHD. Furthermore, at certain transitional points in an adults life, such as when transitioning from high school to university or university to the working world, ADHD symptoms may worsen, complicating the transitional process.

In fact, many people with ADHD go undiagnosed until they reach adulthood. Although the symptoms were always present since childhood, due to the complexities of ADHD as discussed above, many adults did not have their ADHD properly identified as children or adolescents. Later in life, as adults, these individuals usually will recall a lifetime of ADHD symptoms beginning very early in life as children.

As in children and adolescents, comorbidity is very common. Adults with ADHD may also have anxiety disorders, depression, and substance use disorders. Although various treatments may be effective for ADHD in adults, medications remains the most effective treatment option. In addition, it is important to address comorbidities, such as anxiety and depression, as well as family or relationship dysfunction that often results from ADHD.

In some instances, ADHD result in positive effects, according to researchers. In those adults for whom ADHD is advantageous, it appears that these adults have developed unique coping strategies over the years. For example, they have learned to minimize the negative effects of ADHD, while possibly retaining the some of the positive aspects of ADHD. People with ADHD may be more creative and better at multi-tasking.

Nevertheless, adults who are able to learn to cope well with ADHD appear to have certain prognostic factors, which appear to predict better outcomes, such as not having a co-morbid mental health disorder, having strong psychosocial support, and living in a culture where ADHD treatment is readily available. This is illustrates the importance of improving awareness of ADHD in Thailand, as ADHD not only negatively affects children and adolescents, but adults and their families, as well. However, when adequate treatment and understanding is present, positive effects of ADHD may be enhanced, while the negative effects are limited.

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