Can Adults Develop ADHD? New Research Says Probably Not


Source: Florida International University

Summary: According to a new research done by the clinical psychologists, more than 80% of the people who are declared adult-onset ADHD probably don’t have ADHD at all.


Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is neuropsychiatric disorder and is characterized by conditions such as inattentiveness, hyperactivity and impulsiveness. According to a new research at Florida International University by clinical psychologist Margaret Sibley and colleagues, more than 80% of the people who are declared adult-onset ADHD probably don’t have ADHD at all. Those people who are actually diagnosed with the disorder more likely had it as children but were undiagnosed. The findings were published in the journal American Journal of Psychiatry.

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder

CREDIT: Florida International University

Sibley and colleagues assessed 239 participants for every 2 years, starting at age 10 till the participants were 25. They collected the information from parents, teachers, self-reports about the ADHD symptoms, substance use, impairment and other mental disorders. They further said false positive late-onset ADHD cases are common as the assessment is not carefully done. Therefore clinicians should carefully assess the symptoms of adult-onset ADHD before treating and declaring the ADHD cases. Other factors for late-onset ADHD like symptoms may include traumatic brain injury, side effects of medications, environmental stressors and other physical illnesses.

Asst.Prof. Sibley said, “The notion of a widespread adult-onset ADHD epidemic falls apart when you have access to detailed patient clinical records and history”, “We found a number of people who looked like they had adult-onset ADHD, but when we looked closely, adult-onset symptoms were traced back to childhood or were better explained by other problems, like the cognitive effects of heavy marijuana use, psychological trauma, or depressive symptoms that affect concentration”.


More Information: Margaret H. Sibley et al. Late-Onset ADHD Reconsidered With Comprehensive Repeated Assessments Between Ages 10 and 25, American Journal of Psychiatry (2017). DOI: 10.1176/appi.ajp.2017.17030298


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