Does ADHD Get Worse With Age?

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For some people with ADHD, there is a fear that symptoms will worsen with age. This is a valid concern, as research has shown that ADHD symptoms tend to persist into adulthood in over 80% of cases. However, it is also worth noting that many adults with ADHD find ways to manage their condition and live successful lives.

Does ADHD Worsen With Age?

It is generally not thought that ADHD worsens with age. Sometimes, the increased academic or professional demands that come with age may make ADHD symptoms more apparent in some individuals. There are many factors that can contribute to how ADHD manifests in an individual, including genetics, environment, and lifestyle choices.

Some common symptoms of ADHD that may persist over time include difficulty paying attention, disorganization, and procrastination. These symptoms can lead to problems in areas such as school, work, and relationships. However, there are strategies that can help manage these issues. Adults with ADHD can find help from therapists, coaches, and medication if needed.

It is important to remember that ADHD is often a lifelong condition. However, it is also important to realize that this does not mean that life is automatically difficult for adults with ADHD. With the right tools and support, it is possible to live a successful and fulfilling life with ADHD.

Does ADHD Get Worse With Age If Left Untreated?

People who have undiagnosed and/or untreated ADHD may find that their symptoms become more evident as they get older. Without treatment, the symptoms of ADHD can lead to problems in areas such as work, school, and relationships as well as lowered self-esteem and social functioning.

Adults with untreated ADHD may also be more likely to experience depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and personality disorders.

It is important to obtain a diagnosis and treatment for ADHD if you suspect that you may have the condition. Treatment can help reduce or manage the symptoms of ADHD, and can lead to a better quality of life.

If you are concerned about how ADHD may be affecting your life, talk to your doctor. There are many treatments available that can help you manage your condition.

At What Age Does ADHD Peak?

There is no one answer to this question, as the age at which ADHD symptoms worsen can vary from person to person. However, some research suggests that ADHD symptoms may peak at a certain age.

One review study published in the journal Neuropediatrics indicated that peak prevalence of ADHD may be higher in certain age groups, such as among 9-year-old boys. In contrast, the prevalence of ADHD in adults was estimated at 2.8%.

What Causes ADHD Symptoms to Get Worse?

The causes of ADHD symptoms appearing to worsen likely vary from person to person. However, there are some possible explanations for why this may happen.

As people age, they may face more challenges in their lives. This can include things like entering into new stages of development, such as adolescence or adulthood; increased stress levels; and competing demands on time, such as work and family responsibilities. These challenges can worsen ADHD symptoms in some people.

It is important to talk to your doctor if you are experiencing a worsening of your ADHD symptoms. They can help you determine the cause and come up with a treatment plan that works best for you.

Can ADHD Type Change With Age?

There are three main types of ADHD: inattentive, hyperactive-impulsive, and combined. Some research suggests that the type of ADHD may change as people get older.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), "Because symptoms can change over time, the presentation may change over time as well."

It is important to note that not everyone with ADHD will experience a change in their type. If you are concerned that your type of ADHD has changed, it is important to talk to your doctor.

Managing ADHD as You Age

ADHD can pose unique challenges as people age. For this reason, it's important to develop coping strategies to manage your symptoms.

Some ways to manage ADHD as you age include:

  • Making a list of things you need to do and crossing them off as you complete them. This can help you stay organized and avoid feeling overwhelmed.
  • Breaking down bigger tasks into smaller, more manageable steps. This can help reduce stress and improve focus.
  • Setting realistic goals. It's important to remember that not everything can be accomplished in a single day. Pace yourself and set goals that are achievable.
  • Finding ways to manage stress. Yoga, meditation, journaling, and deep breathing exercises can all be helpful in managing stress.
  • Discussing your condition with your loved ones. Letting your loved ones know about your ADHD and what they can do to help support you can be helpful.
  • Working with a therapist. A therapist can help you develop coping strategies and address any challenges you may be facing in life.
  • Get a diagnosis and treatment. The best way to manage ADHD symptoms is to get a proper diagnosis and treatment. This may include medication, therapy, or lifestyle changes. By getting treatment, you can help reduce or manage your ADHD symptoms and improve your quality of life.
  • Create a daily routine. Having a regular routine can help you manage your ADHD symptoms. This may include things like setting time limits for tasks, breaking down large projects into smaller steps, and scheduling regular breaks throughout the day.
  • Prioritize tasks. When you have ADHD, it can be difficult to focus on tasks that are not important to you. To help overcome this, try to prioritize tasks and focus on the most important ones first.
  • Use tools and accommodations. There are various tools and accommodations that can help people with ADHD manage their symptoms. These include things like a planner, a timer, and task lists. Ask your doctor or therapist for recommendations.
  • Get organized. One of the biggest challenges for people with ADHD is staying organized. To help overcome this, try to create a system for organizing your belongings and keep all of your materials in one place.
  • Stay positive. It is important to remember that ADHD is a manageable condition. With the right treatment and coping strategies, you can live a full and productive life. Stay positive and don’t let ADHD hold you back.

A Word From Verywell

ADHD can pose challenges as people age. However, there are many ways to manage and cope with the condition. If you are experiencing symptoms of ADHD, it is important to talk to your doctor. They can help you get a diagnosis and find the best treatment for you. With the right support, you can live a full and productive life.

8 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Arlin Cuncic
Arlin Cuncic, MA, is the author of "Therapy in Focus: What to Expect from CBT for Social Anxiety Disorder" and "7 Weeks to Reduce Anxiety."