Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is often thought of as primarily a mental health condition that affects children, but the reality is both children and adults can have ADHD. The average age when most people receive an ADHD diagnosis is seven, so it’s easy to understand why it’s often mistaken as a childhood disorder.
At Allied Psychiatry & Mental Health in Newport Beach, California, board-certified psychiatrist, Dr. Hadi Estakhri knows there’s a lot of confusion surrounding ADHD and whether or not you can outgrow it 一 and that’s the focus of today’s blog.
Here’s what you need to know.
I had ADHD as a child: will I have it as an adult?
Phrased another way, this points to a bigger question: can you outgrow ADHD? The answer is, not necessarily. ADHD is a brain-based condition. Children and adults with ADHD have different brain structures, brain sizes, and brain development.
These brain differences can impact your executive functioning skills, which include working memory, mood regulation, time management, planning and organization, and task initiation. This also explains why individuals with ADHD may struggle with things like procrastination, staying organized, or regulating emotions.
Because these structural differences in your brain don’t change as you move from childhood to adulthood, ADHD doesn’t go away. In other words, ADHD can (and often does) carry into adulthood.
According to Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD), about 80% of children with ADHD still experience ADHD as an adult. Some adults do notice that their symptoms ease over time, accounting for that remaining 20%.
This isn’t because ADHD suddenly goes away. Instead, it may be the result of years of therapy, learning new skills, or working hard to improve executive functioning skills.
ADHD is treated the same way in adults as it is in children. Treatments include medication, therapy, and lifestyle modifications. Sleep hygiene, regular exercise, and eating a well-balanced diet are an essential part of ADHD treatment. For instance, ensuring that you eat enough vitamins (such as B complex vitamins) and minerals can help support healthy brain function no matter what your age.
Can ADHD appear as an adult?
Just as ADHD doesn’t disappear in adults, it doesn’t suddenly appear either. In order to receive an ADHD diagnosis, your symptoms must have been present in childhood, even if you didn’t seek treatment or evaluation until much later.
If you suspect you have any symptoms of ADHD, don’t hesitate to seek mental health care. Learning you have ADHD (regardless of your age) can be your first step toward overcoming your symptoms.
What to do when your ADHD isn’t managed
Maybe you received treatment for ADHD when you were a child and thought it was under control. Or maybe you’re just making the connections between your struggles and ADHD. In either case, our team works hard to help you thrive with ADHD.
In addition to providing therapy and medication, we also help you explore lifestyle modifications to manage your inattentive and/or hyperactive symptoms.
To learn more about ADHD treatment for adults, book an appointment with Dr. Estakhri today by calling our office at 949-945-0927 or using our online scheduler.