ADHD reaches beyond childhood
March 4th, 2013
01:47 PM ET

ADHD reaches beyond childhood

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, is often considered something children outgrow. But researchers say the disorder can carry over into adulthood.

A new study published in this week's Pediatrics journal finds that about a third of those diagnosed as children continue to have ADHD as adults, and more than half of those adults have another psychiatric disorder as well.

Suicide rates were nearly five times higher in adults who had childhood ADHD compared to those who did not, according to the study. Researchers aren't exactly sure why; they speculate that problems associated with childhood ADHD, such as lower academic achievement and social isolation, make people more prone to life issues as adults.

The study looked at roughly 230 people born between 1976 and 1982 who were diagnosed with ADHD as children. The group was followed until they were about 30 years old.

Researchers think the higher rates of suicide and psychiatric illness in those with childhood ADHD are tied to depression and impulsive behavior.

Living with ADHD can be challenging. The disorder often makes it more difficult for school children to pay attention in class. They may be more fidgety, hyperactive, and often act before they think things through, experts say. Their grades can suffer, and they tend to have trouble getting along with their peers.

As they grow up, people with ADHD are may be underemployed and are more inclined to have problems and accidents on the job, says Dr. Russell Barkley, clinical professor of psychiatry and pediatrics at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston.

Relationship and marital issues are not uncommon and they more likely to have substance abuse issues and higher arrest rates than those who do not have ADHD as a child, says Barkley. All of these troubles over time can lead to depression.

"We have known that ADHD predisposes people to depression. And the longer (ADHD) persists, the greater the likelihood someone with ADHD could develop depression or an anxiety disorder," says Barkley. "But what triggers these [suicide] attempts is more the impulsivity of ADHD."

However, when experts were asked if these same numbers would hold true for children who have been diagnosed more recently, they said probably not. Depression and anxiety are still risk factors, and suicide is still possible, but experts say children today probably have a lower risk because we have better, longer acting medications; better treatments and counseling and more services are being offered in schools.

Previous research has shown that it's vitally important to continue ADHD treatment into adolescence and adulthood, says Barkley. Many of the problems seen later in life start in the teen years. Proper interventions during this critical time can help alter the course for these individuals, giving them better tools to handle life's challenges.

soundoff (110 Responses)
  1. susan delph

    once you have a disorder in child hood you never out grow it. give me a brake. once you have a disorder of the brain you never out grow it. it stays with you for live. get over it and grow up.

    March 4, 2013 at 14:31 | Report abuse | Reply
    • PeteH

      Susan, your understanding of ADD/ADHD is about as impressive as your command of grammar. You obviously don't suffer from ADD/ADHD. If you did, you'd know that you don't outgrow it. If it's severe, it ruins your life (my bother). If it's less prominent, it at very least holds you back (myself). You work around it, often without even realizing you're doing so. Sooner or later though, its effects catch up with you. It's like hitting a wall, and there's no getting around or over it.

      Your bet bet here; if you know little about something, remain silent...

      March 4, 2013 at 14:53 | Report abuse |
    • Laura H

      Susan, as a previous poster said, you clearly don't know much about ADD/ADHD, the brain, nor grammar. The brain and it's chemistry grow and change throughout life, particularly between childhood and adulthood. A disorder can be outgrown, because the brain grows and matures, just as our bones do. Perhaps for some it is puberty that ends ADHD, for some it is other adjustments to the brain that occur over time, some develop coping mechanisms that fully mask the problem.

      It is a little sad that 3 out of 4 posters (myself included) find it more appropriate to try to stop a fool from furthering the world's ignorance than to directly post about the article itself.

      March 4, 2013 at 15:17 | Report abuse |
    • whattim

      I I hope Susan is not a mother. If she is, we will read about her kids knocking her off in her sleep.

      March 4, 2013 at 16:02 | Report abuse |
    • Jan

      I had to respond to Susan because of the gratuitous unkindness I saw in other responses. Susan, I agree that brain differences noticed in childhood do not magically disappear with maturity, but the brain and its chemistry do grow and change throughout life, often making differences that were debilitating in youth much less of a problem. Furthermore, most of the problems that come from brain differences "disorders" such as ADHD are caused by a bad fit between the demands of the environment and the functioning of the individual, but since the environmental demands of being a school child are different from the environmental demands of many adult lives, there are many possibilities of how brain differences that were problematic in youth will effect the individual in adulthood.

      March 4, 2013 at 17:55 | Report abuse |
    • Pam

      "researchers say the disorder can carry over into adulthood"....duh. My son is the poster child for ADHD. Had issues with it growing up, still has issues with it as an adult.

      March 4, 2013 at 18:18 | Report abuse |
    • Terry

      I work with a guy who has this, but it only seems to affect him at work.

      March 4, 2013 at 19:21 | Report abuse |
    • Bryan

      Your grammar, punctuation, and spelling are telling me you must be very knowledgeable on this subject. Thank you for your input.

      March 5, 2013 at 06:40 | Report abuse |
    • Tom

      Not until I was getting divorced at age 54 was I made aware I had ADHD. I then knew why I struggled with tasks others found simple, why I could not read a map, why I was unable to follow the most basic directions, why I would start and stop multiple tasks, completing very few of them. But I was blessed with an amazing memory that helped me get through life, I just never achieved what I might have been able to had I known earlier as a child.

      March 5, 2013 at 09:15 | Report abuse |
    • chuckie

      Susan, your contention that someone that has a "disorder of the brain" for life should "just get over it" is illogical. Firstly, you agree that a brain disorder, such as ADHD, is for life, then you go on to imply that it is volitional, which is the only conclusion that can follow from you saying that they should, "just get over it," i.e., it is within one's control. Which is it? Is it a condition beyond one's control, or is it something one can will away? It can't be both.

      March 6, 2013 at 10:14 | Report abuse |
    • Darn.worthit

      Focus – will children today have fewer long lasting effects due to services and medicines now available? NO. Personal perception created by dealing with mental disorders and the messages we hear about ourselves from others leave lasting marks. There is hope, but denial is a strong influence, this I know firsthand. Pretending to take my meds just to show “them” I can do just fine thank you very much. Mental disorders are sneaky little devils, once under control, that false belief that “Now, I can handle it from here, without meds of course,” The shame of not being able to just “try harder, stop talking, be serious, etc.” The impact of my distorted perception, comparing my insides to their outsides and falling short again….Brains are baffling by continuing to reroute and function when it should not be possible or not respond when it should be a given. Dealing with epilepsy, dyslexia, depression, and ADD through childhood was rough. Resiliency has been a topic of many articles and the role it plays for handling what is thrown at you. It does get old, working harder or longer to accomplish what others "seem" to breeze through. By 10 I'd been hospitalized twice for attempted suicide. There is nothing imaginary about the impact of mental disorders – for me – it is the impact of emotions that affect my ability to process and exacerbate those damn buggers!
      What I find sad is that there is the false idea kids today won’t have the same lasting effect due to modern medicines and services. That may be true IF parents aren’t threatened feeling they caused it or see it as a reflection on them not doing or being enough, or their belief that thier child is being indifferent not trying enough either. My parent worked her butt off and was not my friend; she made me see doctors upon doctors with prescriptions following. I was in denial and sabotaged out of anger and resentment. (I was the poster child for birth control) Also, what happened if was a good little solider and nothing got better… that was more terrifying than anything else.
      The people/parents I’ve dealt with 70% of the time respond with children are over medicated. My kid has always been this way – that reluctance is the norm.
      I hope I am wrong; I often have to rethink and adjust perception, as I am not God.
      For the record, I did “outgrow” epilepsy and the medication, but not the others. As stated by another, they are walls, I just have had to increase my toolbox and get creative. Turning over my will to my “higher Power” is helpful, not handling them alone is key...for me.

      March 11, 2013 at 12:35 | Report abuse |
    • l

      You are so right. This article is horrible. It's been well known that you don't outgrow it!. My ADHD daughter is 23. I knew it back then!

      May 2, 2013 at 13:06 | Report abuse |
  2. MattinNC

    Susan, you are obviously ignorant about ADD/ADHD so please stop spreading common stereotypes about the disorder.

    March 4, 2013 at 15:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. DeeDee

    Wow Susan. I hope you're not in the "healing" field. Hopefully something more like a prison guard.

    Regarding the article: This is news?!?! Pleeeze! There have been adult ADHD support groups throughout the country for decades. Those of us, including me, who suffer from the lifelong effects of ADHD have very challenging lives. We simply can not function in the world as people without do. Indeed, my life has been very challenging because it is difficult to concentrate, relate and function in the daily world. However, in my writing and acting classes, and I show distinct unique and genius qualities. Now...do gain the self-confidence that 50 years of ADHD has destroyed...that's the trick.

    March 4, 2013 at 15:11 | Report abuse | Reply
    • emma

      As poor as her delivery style was, Susan is factually correct. ADD is a neurological disorder, and while adults can perfect their coping mechanisms, they do not "grow out of" a faulty neurological path.

      March 6, 2013 at 07:23 | Report abuse |
  4. JK

    They diagnose ADHD carelessly, without looking for causes, and put the children on drugs that have serious side-effects. Many of these children become adults with psychological problems and many see drugs as problem solvers and self-medicate. If we would be honest about how television, computers, poor diet, etc. affect our children, we would have far fewer of them being medicated, and maybe even fewer Alzheimer's patients later on.

    March 4, 2013 at 15:52 | Report abuse | Reply
    • peppe

      Do you have a shred of data to support anything you say? I'd like to suggest you learn something about it before you start making accusation and saying such utter nonsense (Alzheimers'?? really, not a bit of data to support that) Nothing quite like fact free opinions. People spend an entire career researching this, they say your FOS.

      March 4, 2013 at 21:03 | Report abuse |
    • Natalie

      You are right JK. My friend's son had ADHD and he is cured with life changes his parent provided for him, diet and keeping him away from all PC games, TV, etc.

      March 5, 2013 at 11:56 | Report abuse |
    • AnotherAnnit

      I disagree with you based upon my own experience. I adopted two children with ADHD a few years ago. As parents, we place a high importance on good decision making, academic achievement, and good citizenship. These are all things that do not come easily or naturally to our girls, and we have allowed them opportunities to master these skills both with and without medication. I do not force them to take their pills, and I don't mind if they don't, so long as they are achieving the goals we set together. If they can do it without the meds, I am happy. and both have proven to themselves that they CAN be successful without the meds, but it is much more difficult for them to focus and maintain their concentration without the meds. Consequently, they prefer to take them because they are able to accomplish a LOT more (productively speaking) than they can without the meds, which enables them more play time (something they enjoy and can focus on with or without medication). The meds can make a huge difference, and I have wondered if they will ever be able to give them up, or if they will always need them. It can take a while, plus a lot of trial and error to find the right mediation at the best dose for each child, but the benefit far outweighs the nuisance of doing so.

      March 6, 2013 at 09:18 | Report abuse |
    • Rick

      "Without looking for causes"? On the contrary, JK, ADHD is a disorder that's on the bleeding edge of medical research. The vast majority of its etiology boils down to genetics - not poor parenting, not HFCS, not red food dye or computers or any of the other ridiculous, unsubstantiated theories circulated by people who don't know any better. Heck, a friend of mine practically bursts out laughing every time she hears someone say that television causes ADHD - she tells me that, as a child, she was so unfocused and hyper that she couldn't even sit still long enough to have it effect her.

      March 7, 2013 at 23:13 | Report abuse |
  5. marshu

    Yikes! Susan, you are completely lacking any insight into this disorder. As the parent of an 18 y.o. who is severely afflicted with ADHD and brother of 2 who are afflicted to differing degrees, I can absolutely tell you that you don't 'get over it and grow up.' My oldest brother continues to display the same impulse control problems and lack of judgement that he suffered from as a child and is chronically unemployed. I think he is working on his 5th marriage now. My girlfriend's son with a tested IQ of 130 is a high school drop out who suffers from bouts of severe depression & mania and who most likely will end up homeless. In spite of years of counseling and encouragement, he still engages in risky behavior, substance abuse and a complete lack of executive functioning in the pre-frontal cortex of his brain.

    Really, Susan and the rest of the reader's out there, this is not a moral issue that someone just 'gets over' by 'growing up.' It is typically a life long problem that impedes the emotional and intellectual well-being of those who are unlucky enough to have lost out in the genetic lotto of life. Spreading misinformation and stereotypes will not and does not help these people function any better.

    March 4, 2013 at 15:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Samantha

    For anyone interested reading the primary source, the research paper's citation is:

    Barbares et al. 2013. "Mortality, ADHD, and psychosocial adversity in adults with childhood ADHD: A prospective study." (Pediatrics peds.2012-2354; published ahead of print March 4, 2013, doi:10.1542/peds.2012-2354).

    March 4, 2013 at 15:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. sbuler

    As a psychologist I am constantly amazed at folks like susan delph here who just decide they "know" that things don't really exist. My guesss is these folks never got beyond object permanence in their development – if I can't see it then it doesn't exist.

    March 4, 2013 at 16:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. pw

    Both my husband and my adult son have ADD, luckily neither have the H part. My son was diagnosed when he was in grade school, which led my husband to go for testing and he was also diagnosed. My husband has learned coping skills over the years and does take medication, but he doesn't like to be dependent on it. My son took medication in grade school, but felt the ritalin had turned him into an angry person, so he stopped. They are both prone to depression. My son struggled through school without much help from the school. As an adult he learning coping skills. Because he does not react to the world the same as everyone else does my husband has become a loner. My son is very social. It's a life long struggle for them and me.

    March 4, 2013 at 16:24 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Zack

      I can relate to your husband. I was diagnosed in my early 30’s after years of battling anxiety and depression. I basically went through the motions in school and even on the job, to a certain extent. In fact, when I was in school, my parents and I were literally told that I was just odd and distant. I finally humbled myself and sought professional advice. I had never even considered ADD, but after being screened and asked a million questions, all the signs and symptoms pointed to ADD. At first I downplayed it, but once I started receiving treatment and medication, my life improved greatly. I still have my moments, but just knowing what exactly I’m dealing with has helped.

      March 4, 2013 at 18:27 | Report abuse |
  9. Jill Curry

    I have read research (prior to putting my son on Concerta for his ADHD) that indicates that children and adolescents who are unmedicated for this disorder are at higher risk for substance abuse in their future (read: self-medicating.) This helped me decide to try the med. Prior to reading the research I was frightened that I would set my son's brain up for future addiction. ADHD is considered a brain disorder and therefore has the potential to respond to medication. It does need to be carefully diagnosed, however, and is likely over-diagnosed. We couple the med with counseling for our child. He is highly intelligent but was experiencing many behavior problems at school prior to our seeking a formal diagnosis and intervention. People really do need to be educated about ADHD. There is a lot of ignorance/misperceptions in our society about it.

    March 4, 2013 at 16:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Kathy

    My son was diagnosed at 5 with adhd and odd. I have 4 children they all went through normal childhood problems but the one with adhd was very much a challenge in school and socially. In high school he decided to stop taking medications on his own. well he ended up losing jobs, doing drugs , stealing , going to jail. After jail he went to rehab. back on meds and back to psychologist. But everyday is still a struggle.He has a hard time getting and keeping a job. I have to make sure he takes his meds,make sure he goes to appts.etc.He is 21 and right now I fear he will never be able to make it on his own.

    March 4, 2013 at 17:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. nickmoskalev

    SO, the conclusion is: KEEP TAKING PSYCHO-ACTIVE DRUGS even in adulthood. Well, HOW ABOUT excluding dangerous CHEMICALS from our food? How about promoting healthy diet and trying Feingold Diet, for instance?
    With over 3000 food additives allowed by FDA into American food supply we will NEVER get well unless we stop eating so many strange chemicals daily and lifetime. AND do Google search for very serious video: The Drugging Of Our Children (Full Length)

    March 4, 2013 at 17:43 | Report abuse | Reply
    • LinSea

      ADHD is frequently genetic. Don't know if diet can really fix that.

      March 4, 2013 at 18:46 | Report abuse |
    • Natalie

      Big Pharma needs business!

      March 5, 2013 at 11:59 | Report abuse |
    • sonas76

      I have ADHD. I have lived my entire life with home cooked foods, home grown foods, free range meat and eggs from my Aunt's farm, etc.

      It NEVER made my ADHD any better...it never made the ADD/ADHD several of my relatives have either. Genetics often play a MUCH larger role in our lives than anything enviromental.

      March 6, 2013 at 09:50 | Report abuse |
    • Barbra

      As a mid-level health care provider (physician assistant) who was diagnosed as an adult, I decided to try to get by without meds after my insurance changed and my Adderall was covered any more. Well, it took two years but I ended up with a major depression, inability to do my job from lack of concentration, and a psych hospitalization. After less than 5 days back on a psychostimulant (Concerta this time) I was able to be released from inpatient treatment and go back to work. So don't knock medication if you haven't been there. It has saved my life and career. P.S. I am currently following a vegan diet and it has not lessened my need for medication.

      March 6, 2013 at 13:49 | Report abuse |
    • FoolSlayer

      How about you get an education first, then speak? In that order.

      March 10, 2013 at 19:53 | Report abuse |
  12. J.C Denton

    What a Shame

    March 4, 2013 at 17:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. J

    I am curious about the findings later in life. While I'm not going to argue that ADHD students have greater challenges growing up and in school, I am curious what their control group was for adults. If you normalize for the grades that the ADHD students received as children and compared it with a different control group (students with poor grades who don't have ADHD), would the arrest record and substance abuse issues the ADHD children displayed be as prevalent (i.e. is is ADHD that leads to higher incidents of arrest / substance abuse, or is it poorer performance in school that leads to this).

    I recognize that there will be anecdotal evidence for both (I'm a successful profession who did very well in school – my hyperfocus was math and science though). If it turns out that success in school is a larger correlation than ADHD, then it gives a lot more hope to those with ADHD IMO.

    March 4, 2013 at 17:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Caesar J. B. Squitti

    This is part of 'the disease conspiracy'....creating diseases to treat the symptoms...

    March 4, 2013 at 18:02 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Bill

      That must be it. Diseases only exist if an arm or leg falls off or the person dies.

      March 4, 2013 at 18:13 | Report abuse |
    • Michael Suttle

      You are completely ignorant. And if I ever saw you, I would phuck you up since you insult me greatly with your ignorance. I have lived with this "conspiracy" as you call it for 35 years. You need to go back off in your own jack yard.

      March 5, 2013 at 10:06 | Report abuse |
    • FoolSlayer

      You are a complete and utter moron.

      March 10, 2013 at 19:54 | Report abuse |
  15. LinSea

    "ADHD reaches beyond childhood." No kidding. Anyone with it can tell you that. It doesn't go away, you just figure out how to deal with it.

    March 4, 2013 at 18:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Julie

    ADHD is neurological. If u have it in childhood, it's still there in adulthood. ADHD people need guidance and structure; if it starts young, I find that by adulthood, it's much easier to cope with. That's why I believe people always say it's for children; many children/teens with ADHD have gotten the hang of 'life' by adulthood. For others, like myself, it's a struggle ... many adults are diagnosed with ADHD for the first time, in their 40's (like myself). And for those people, it's a 'light-bulb' moment ... suddenly everything makes sense as to why their lives have turned out the way it has & why certain things have always been a horrific problem. And why they think so differently. Depression, etc., is a chemical illness, so meds help. ADHD is NEUROLOGICAL ... there's no cure, there's no end to it & there's NO growing out of it. IT IS THE PHYSICAL STRUCTURE OF YOUR BRAIN that WILL ALWAYS effect your executive functioning. The meds are mainly stimulants that go in your body – and then, out of your body; they help, but they are temporary. Unlike anti-depressants that are ongoing within the body. The ONLY way to help manage ADHD is BUILDING ROUTINES, KEEPING STRUCTURE, & CREATING GOOD DAILY HABITS. Sleep is deathly important; being sleep deprived can wreak havoc on an ADHD brain. ALSO, the meds help if taken as directed. People that say 'snap out of it' & 'grow up' ... are the very ones that need a high-five - in the face - with a chair. ADHD is serious & can be very debilitating.

    March 4, 2013 at 19:31 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Laura

      Agree 100%.

      March 6, 2013 at 10:37 | Report abuse |
    • Bob

      I do not want to contradict your experiences, and certainly do not want to sound like I'm agreeing in any way with the infamous "Susan", but the brain is an ever changing organ, especially in children. A good psychiatrist will not diagnose certain disorders in kids, such as bipolar, because they know they brain and brain stem are not fully developed. That means that some people do grow out of things, but I certainly do not know at what percentage.

      March 9, 2013 at 10:05 | Report abuse |
    • Darn.worthit

      Great points, well made!

      March 11, 2013 at 12:47 | Report abuse |
  17. A.J

    I was diagnosed with ADHD today. I am a 33 year old professional that had done very well until recently. I can tell you from my experience that it does carry over from childhood. I was exibiting symptoms from very early childhood. As I grew older I found ways of adapting. As time carried on the patterns I developed to cope began to destroy everything around me. I hit a wall last week and realized what was happening to me. It was devastating. Tomorrow, I start my first day of dexadeine. I am so excited to finally have the focus I need to get back on track. I feel like someone threw me a life preserver. I was drowning in my own life.

    March 4, 2013 at 20:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Christ

    As someone who was recently diagnosed with ADHD as an adult. I can see how this article rings true. I had issues when I was a child however they were overlooked. It has changed my life around but with proper help and continuous support, it can be smoother. it is never perfect though. The brain can develop and change over time. it can become better or it can become worse in time. however people should learn to not judge people based on a disability but for the person they are and what they positively contribute to life.

    March 5, 2013 at 02:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. linda

    My second son has ADHD. At the beginning, it was called Minimal Brain Dysfunction. Then, I was told I was a lousy mom. Dad was never there, mentally or job wise, but it was all MY fault. As he grew older, I tried everything. Folks, including one of his siblings, don't believe ADHD exists. Did you ever really look at a child/adult with this and consider all the issues? Video games actually help him concentrate now. Yes, he has a job. He can take apart a car and put it back together all by himself and MAKE IT RUN. He is a Great Dad to his 2 sons. PLEASE don't judge parents or people with this issue. AND don't fight about it. If we could all just get along and allow for EVERYONE's differences, maybe things would get better.

    March 5, 2013 at 07:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Pat

    I thought journalist were suppose to research their topics! I have a book printed in 1986 called "Hyperactive children Grown Up." published in 1986 by Dr.Gabrielle Weiss and Dr.Lily Hechtman....this article is almost infuriating,especially to parents who have watched their child try and fail over and over until they get a proper diagonsis. Please for the sake of all of your readers, do a follow up article about how adult ADD/ADHD effects them.

    March 5, 2013 at 10:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Michael Suttle

    Very dismayed by what little I was able to stomach of this article. I stopped reading where it spoke of the study done on those born between 76 and 82 that were diagnosed with "ADHD". Article lost all credibility there since "ADHD" didn't exist then. I am from that generation and ADD was the proper diagnosis. Not ADHD which more or less combines two different diagnosis's and was not on any radar as an official diagnosis until the mid to late 90's.

    March 5, 2013 at 10:04 | Report abuse | Reply
    • FoolSlayer

      You're a complete idiot. Don't try and understand this "sciency" stuff, it's not your thing.

      March 10, 2013 at 19:56 | Report abuse |
  22. Scott

    I was dismayed by this article for a few reasons:
    1. ADD/ADHD severity was not discussed as it related to long-term depression and adult life (perhaps it wasn't in any study this way either, which is disconcerting because the severity of a mental issue will definitely affect quality of life as one gets older).
    2. I'd like to see a link or a reference to the studie(s) being referenced. The opinions of experts aren't scientific evidence. You have to have scientific studies to back you up.
    3. ADD/ADHD which is statistically more prominent in boys may be diagnosed in boys that "grow out" of ADD/ADHD because of developmental stages at younger ages that differ from girls development and we as a society try to cookie cutter developmental behavior. Girls may "grow out" because of socialization pressures. It could also be less prevalent in girls due to socialization pressures that force development of coping mechanisms. Since there is no empirical test for ADD/ADHD much of the diagnosis depends on teacher and parent opinion about childrens' behavior, which at best is subjective and could be flawed.

    I am not suggesting ADD/ADHD does not exist. I am suggesting broad generalizations about ADD/ADHD which this article makes, simplifies a disorder that is not well understood. I know plenty of well adjusted people who were diagnosed with ADD or ADHD who have developed into well adjusted adults (some who believe they were patently misdiagnosed and others who know they weren't but have developed coping mechanisms). And I know others where it is so severe that they feel their brain is their worst enemy. To oversimplify and say all people with all severities of ADD/ADHD have a higher likelihood of depression without scientific evidence (scientific studies done multiple times, not just one study, is the scientific standard) just serves to alarm parents who are struggling to help their children.

    March 5, 2013 at 10:52 | Report abuse | Reply
    • LinSea

      It isn't necessarily more prominent in boys. It's just not recognized as often in girls. ADHD symptoms that affect girls tend to be different from the symptoms usually identified in boys.

      March 5, 2013 at 12:51 | Report abuse |
    • Julie

      There are 2 or 3 different forms of ADHD. Hyperactivity - which is more common in boys & Inattentive - which is more common in girls. That's the one with more daydreaming, poor time management, etc. The 3rd is a combination of both, where no one form is predominant.

      March 7, 2013 at 21:58 | Report abuse |
    • FoolSlayer

      You were dismayed by the article because you really have very little understanding of the disorder.

      March 10, 2013 at 19:58 | Report abuse |
  23. Susan Abrams

    I think ADHD is underdiagnosed. I was diagnosed at age 63 – 4 years ago. Being undiagnosed ruined my life. I'm a nurse (RN) who couldn't hold a job. Always had severe financial problems. I was diagnosed many times with anxiety and depression, then 4 years ago, my boss diagnosed me. This was confirmed by 2 psychiatrists. Then, I realized my mother had it. She was a miserable person and took it out on me. I've spent my entire life : having few friends, 6-8 accidents a day – like walking into walls, hurting fingers and toes when trying to get things out of cabinets, etc. Never could balance a checkbook, poor at math, losing things, forgetting things. Problems at work were mostly paperwork related, but sometimes forgetfullness was a real problem, like forgetting to lock med cart, forgetting to give meds – just not seeing them on med list. Sure, meds help somewhat but it's too late to resurrect career. I never worked any place long enough to get a pension – just have SS. I was working part-time until recently – had to stop for several reasons – 1- fired from last job in Oct, 2 – but wood have had to stop soon anyway – due to problems with neck, back and hips. So then, my car was repossessed – couldn't pay the payment or insurance, got turned down for unemployment, got turned down for food stamps. The people who issue food stamps and unemployment don't care that I have to pay for my daughters therapist (she has borderline personality disorder) So, every month by the last week or 10 days, I'm literally starving. I've been told to go to food banks – they are usually only open Mondays and when they give you food, you cant come there again for about 6 months. Now – I have no car – even if I take the bus, I can't carry very much at all. All of this is due to undiagnosed ADHD – I have the combined type

    March 5, 2013 at 10:54 | Report abuse | Reply
    • random person

      Borderline personailty disorder is often common with people with ADHD

      May 22, 2013 at 21:38 | Report abuse |
  24. Caroline

    I wonder if unemployed are diagnosed with ADHD. They should qualify for disability. My boss refuses to give me pay raise, I may have ADHD since he doesn't pay me well enough.

    March 5, 2013 at 12:05 | Report abuse | Reply
    • LinSea

      Having ADHD doesn't excuse someone from making ignorant jerk comments like yours, Caroline.

      March 5, 2013 at 12:56 | Report abuse |
    • FoolSlayer

      Moron alert!

      March 10, 2013 at 19:59 | Report abuse |
  25. Shay

    I was diagnosed with ADHD when I was 4 years old. I stopped taking my medication when I turned 15 because I felt like ADHD was not a real disease. I felt like it made me seem less smarter and that I was an odd person because I had 'ADHD.' I did alright in High School and graduated with a 3.3 GPA with no honors or AP courses. I worked a full time job in high school because mom (single parent) couldn't pay for everything by herself. I moved in with my best friend when I turned 18 and we attended the community college together. When we would do our homework I found that she would finish assignments days before I could. I always found myself reading books, cleaning and completely avoiding what I needed to do. In class I never sat by the window in class because I would not pay attention. That didn't stop my constant daydreaming though. Anyway, I received my associates degree in 2012 and applied to UNC Chapel Hill and I was accepted to my delight. My first 2 months at the University were completely nerve wracking and I found myself getting extremely discouraged. I went from getting As to Ds and Fs. Classrooms were full of 200 to 400 people and I could not concentrate and I was very intimidated. For the first time in my life I had anxiety. I found myself feeling like I was going to fail because I just could not academically compete with these students. I was doubting myself something which I never had ever done before.

    I went to the Doctor and they recommended me to get retested for ADHD. I went through the testing and found out that I not only have mild ADHD but also a Non specific learning disorder, my working memory is at 6% of where it should be. For the first time in my life, I accepted that this was real and I needed help. I constantly loose things, like my keys or my calculator. I use shapes and colors to try to remember where I placed them. I find simple conversations can be hard for me because people don't understand what I try to say. I see it clear in my head but when I try to speak it comes out in a jumbled mess because I have so many thoughts at once. It takes me hours longer to do my homework than it does 'normal' people. I have notebooks filled with half written notes and scribbled out words because I couldn't remember what the teacher wrote.

    See, I thought this was normal. It's not normal but it's not a bad thing either. It's just the way my brain works. It took me to the age of 23 to finally accept this. It upsets me when people don't think that ADD is real because it is. Every single day is a struggle for me. Everyday I have to battle with myself not to loose things, to express my ideas in class in clear organized manner, and force myself to start my assignments. It's like fighting a war inside your head that no one but you can see, and the only person your fighting is the one you see in the mirror.

    March 5, 2013 at 13:14 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Laura

      You could be my son, right down to the notebook!

      March 6, 2013 at 10:41 | Report abuse |
  26. Jay

    Why do we medicate everyone who doesn't march in a straight line...Everyone is different and Unique, and that is the whole purpose of life...If we were all the same, ate the same things, liked the same things, dressed the same, learned the same, chose the same careers...what kinda life would we have ? There is not one person who is perfect...So we must treat everyone with kindness and respect...Once you label someone, saying they are not normal you create a bigger problem...Suicide is a result of hating oneself...feeling alone, isolated...Why do you think they feel that way...You told them they are not normal...there is no Normal...get it...that's like saying an artist has to paint the same picture...they all paint things differently ...and the ones who do it the most differently from the Normal, become the most Famous...Why because they are Unique and different from all others...People are so judge MENTAL...Lets drug everyone that is different and call them crazy...Who cares, let people create their own existence that has nothing to do with your judgement...Einstein was crazy, mark zuckerberg is crazy, so were most people who changed the world...why , because they thought differently than everyone else...people learn and think differently than you ...does that make them wrong...Maybe on a standard grading test...But some people are just different than you ...and thats Ok...

    March 5, 2013 at 14:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. Chris

    People with ADHD receive special treatment at school and at work. However as soon as they sit in the drivers seat of a car they are cured. It's a miracle! They are suddenly able to concentrate on the road and driving without losing attention. I think people who are diagnosed as not being able to concentrate should be given limited driving privileges such as no passengers to distract them or OH LOOK A CLOWN....CRASH!

    March 5, 2013 at 15:11 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Rick

      You're completely mistaken, Chris. Driving is one of the areas where people with ADHD suffer some of the most significant consequences of their disorder. The inattention that comes with the disorder makes it more difficult to consistently pay attention to driving tasks, while the impulsivity that comes with ADHD tends to make people more likely to take stupid risks.

      Overall, it's estimated that folks with ADHD are 2-4 times as likely to be involved in a crash as someone without - almost the same level of risk as a drunk driver. Stimulant medication was found to reduce their driving risk back to the same levels as the general population. This increased risk of preventable injury and death is one of the strongest reasons to treat someone with ADHD.

      If you do a web search for "ADHD driving", you'll find lots more information on this.

      March 7, 2013 at 22:52 | Report abuse |
    • FoolSlayer

      Go away. You are not intelligent in any way. Moronic kid.

      March 10, 2013 at 20:00 | Report abuse |
  28. Mary Jo


    Apparently you got distracted by the clown! Maybe you have ADHD? Seriously though, having ADHD is a lifelong disorder. I struggle with it everyday. I do however learned to cope with this disorder throughout life but I still cannot put into words what my brain is thinking. It comes out jumbled and confusing to say the least. At least one thing I can cope with better than others is driving.....

    March 5, 2013 at 15:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. Jackson Reese

    The thought that they are just NOW coming to this conclusion upsets me. As a person who has had this issue since childhood, has seen my father struggle as a an adult, and has personally now grown into adulthood and carried it onward. I am amazed that they ever considered that it wouldn't carry over. It's an every day struggle. Others don't understand. They laugh when I drop things, when I jump up, when I figet or move all the time. They think it hilarious. I think it's embarrsing at times. Those who talk about "growing up and moving on" come spend a month with us.....then you can "move on".

    March 5, 2013 at 16:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. Cindy

    When it comes to kids, early testing is the key. It is up to the parnets not to bury their heads in the sand, and get their kids help.

    March 5, 2013 at 16:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. bobkcmo

    I am 63, diagnosed at 52, no one thought of such a thing back then. Reading the material now I can look back even 55 years and see the signs. My professional career began declinging about 4-5 years ago and I was "encouraged" into retirement earlier and with less pension than I had planned. Life is a struggle.

    March 5, 2013 at 17:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. Shawn


    You are just a disgruntled old woman who can't find away to become happy in life.

    March 5, 2013 at 17:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. Ginger

    My husband was not diagnosed with ADHD until in his 50s (he's now 67 and still working), although it was clearly present before then. As a child, the diagnosis was unknown. Medicine is helpful, but he has continuing, annoying side effects. His employer now has a new insurance company that will not fill his prescription for Concerta because he is over 28 (what is magic about 28?) unless he has a special pre-authorization done before getting the prescription filled. We have now been 1 month without medication as we continue to try to get his prescription filled. An adult with ADHD needs meds just as a child does.

    March 5, 2013 at 18:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. wmtcglobal

    I have 2 sons that were diagnosed with ADD and one with ADHD. Our children were adopted at age 2 and age 3. WE were having quite a bit of behavior problems when they started to school and we eventualy had them tested. After being medicated with the medicine, there behavior greatly improved, but we continue to have issues with them staying on task and completing there homework. our boys are now 14 and 15 years old. We struggle with the child that has ADHD alot more than the other. I am not sure of the difference but my older child is constantly in trouble. My wife and I are doing all that we can but are realizing more and more every day that this will be a life long strugglefor these boys. I know that we are consistant and love these boys more than anything and have given them the support they need. I just hope that they will one day be able to hold a job and live in our society with peace and comfort. I do not know how bright there futures will be but I as a parent will do what I can to make there lives better. I did want to say that our boys do show any signs of depression that I can see. Most have been saying they have problems with this. We will always have issues with this but with love and support they will be able to live a good and prosperous life. The greatest of these is love and care. I do know it is very draining at times but is well worth it.

    March 5, 2013 at 22:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. nada

    My report - at the age of 76 I have maintained my level of ADHD throughout my entire life. To live has been a vast learning experience - without drugs. There have been successes and a few disasters. Live your life, it's the only one you got.

    March 5, 2013 at 23:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. connie logg

    I have suffered from ADD all my life, as have my 3 kids. The key is early intervention to learn how to overcome the characteristics of the disorder. Other aggravating factors are fluorescent lights (very serious issue), buzzing sounds, high pitch whistles and other background noises may be easy for some less intelligent people to ignore, but for the ADD/ADHD who are often more intelligent, these are very disruptive to their thought processes and peace of mind. Therapy can help one hyper focus on the area of importance and these people often become top contributors to society. Society needs to recognize this and cut down on the 'noise' of all types in the schools and work environment.

    March 6, 2013 at 02:39 | Report abuse | Reply
    • emma

      Connie, ADD is not correlated with higher or lower intelligence than average. People suffering from ADD have the normal range of intelligence, as many scientific research articles have shown. Also, I'm not sure why "society" should change the fabric of the way it operates to compensate for those who feel more sensitive to certain stimuli. They make noise cancellation headphones that many have found useful for blocking out background noise, and they are quite inexpensive.

      March 6, 2013 at 07:26 | Report abuse |
  37. sonas76

    I am an adult with ADHD...after many years of 'alternative' therapies that did very little, I decided to try medication several years ago. I have been on Adderall since 2007. The effect has been profound. As I have described it to 'normal' people, it's the differece in being able to think in terms of "Today I will do A, B, C and D." and "Today I will do A, triangle, H, 27....a dog with a puffy tail! Here puff, here puff!". I intend to stay on Adderall for the rest of my life.

    To other adults with ADD/ADHD...don't feel bad about your decision to medicate. It is your life, not the life of whatever critic (especially anonymous internet critics) is on your back about it. I also know that it is hard to hear from others that there is nothig 'wrong' with you. Realize that these are also the people that claim other disorders, like post-partum depression, autism, schizophrenia, etc., are 'made up' disorders. Nothing you say to them will sink into their skull. Just let them go. It's the same thing with advice about what 'you should be doing instead of medication'...yes, it would be wonderful if rubbing myself with organic free-trade coffee grounds/meditating for hours/ believing and or praying this will just magically go away actually worked. If things don't work for you, well, they just don't work. Don't feel ashamed about it.

    I wish all of you out there in internetland with ADD/ADHD the very best. You can indeed get to a better place in your life.

    March 6, 2013 at 09:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. Trollin!

    How many ADHD kids does it take to screw in a light bulb? LET'S GO RIDE BICYCLES!

    March 6, 2013 at 11:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. Sandy

    I anticipate that articles I read on cnn.com have been 'vetted' ensuring that legitimate information is being communicated. The first two sentences alone display the journalists lack of knowledge about ADHD. The disorder 'can' carry over into adulthood? I'm sure the intent of the article was good; however, communicating mis-information can be very damaging. ADHD is lifelong. No one grows out of it. People with ADHD have to work much harder (lifelong) to succeed than folks without it.

    March 6, 2013 at 12:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. Jay_Hawk

    How many more Billions of dollars is the pill company and doctors want to pedal their poison? The pill companies make a drug and find something they call a disease so they can keep making billions for them selves and doctors. They at one time recommended to give the ADHD drugs to fish and pets because they was to unruly.

    March 6, 2013 at 13:08 | Report abuse | Reply
    • FoolSlayer

      Go away, idiot.

      March 10, 2013 at 20:04 | Report abuse |
  41. Darn.worthit

    Focus – will children today have fewer long lasting effects due to services and medicines now available? NO. Personal perception created by dealing with mental disorders and the messages we hear about ourselves from others leave lasting marks. There is hope, but denial is a strong influence, this I know firsthand. Pretending to take my meds just to show “them” I can do just fine thank you very much. Mental disorders are sneaky little devils, once under control, that false belief that “Now, I can handle it from here, without meds of course,” The shame of not being able to just “try harder, stop talking, be serious, etc.” The impact of my distorted perception, comparing my insides to their outsides and falling short again….Brains are baffling by continuing to reroute and function when it should not be possible or not respond when it should be a given. Dealing with epilepsy, dyslexia, depression, and ADD through childhood was rough. Resiliency has been a topic of many articles and the role it plays for handling what is thrown at you. It does get old, working harder or longer to accomplish what others "seem" to breeze through. By 10 I'd been hospitalized twice for attempted suicide. There is nothing imaginary about the impact of mental disorders – for me – it is the impact of emotions that affect my ability to process and exacerbate those damn buggers!
    What I find sad is that there is the false idea kids today won’t have the same lasting effect due to modern medicines and services. That may be true IF parents aren’t threatened feeling they caused it or see it as a reflection on them not doing or being enough, or their belief that thier child is being indifferent not trying enough either. My parent worked her butt off and was not my friend; she made me see doctors upon doctors with prescriptions following. I was in denial and sabotaged out of anger and resentment. (I was the poster child for birth control) Also, what happened if was a good little solider and nothing got better… that was more terrifying than anything else.
    The people/parents I’ve dealt with 70% of the time respond with children are over medicated. My kid has always been this way – that reluctance is the norm.
    I hope I am wrong; I often have to rethink and adjust perception, as I am not God.
    For the record, I did “outgrow” epilepsy and the medication, but not the others. As stated by another, they are walls, I just have had to increase my toolbox and get creative. Turning over my will to my “higher Power” is helpful, not handling them alone is key...for me.

    March 11, 2013 at 13:39 | Report abuse | Reply
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    July 23, 2013 at 02:50 | Report abuse | Reply
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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.