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ADHD Linked to Co-occurring Psychiatric Disorders in Adulthood

ADHD Can Tag Along While You Age

A recent study by Harvard Medical School, the Mayo Clinic, and Baylor College of Medicine has found that a large percentage of children who are diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) will ADHDcontinue to experience ADHD throughout adulthood and may even develop another psychiatric disorder.[1]

It is currently known that attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder affects between three and five percent of children, more commonly boys than girls.1 ADHD symptoms usually develop before seven years of age and the child will appear to be inattentive, hyperactive, and impulsive.[2] Management of the disorder usually involves medication, behavior therapy, and counseling, with some lifestyle changes.2 Still, adolescents may have difficulties despite treatment.2

ADHD Common with Co-Occurring Disorders

According to the National Alliance of Mental Illness, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder is commonly associated with other disorders, sometimes in childhood and sometimes in adulthood.[3] Half of children diagnosed with ADHD will also be diagnosed with oppositional defiant disorder at the same time, which is usually characterized by hostile and negative defiant behavior.3 Conduct disorder also co-occurs in 40 percent of children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, with showing aggression towards people and animals, destruction of property, and theft all characteristics of the disorder.3 Children with ADHD may also experience anxiety and depression, and this may also extend into adulthood and become disorders.3 Also, some studies state that attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder symptoms may be mistaken for childhood-onset bipolar disorder, a disorder that will affect the child into adulthood and for the rest of their life.3

Symptoms of ADHD in Adulthood

The majority of children with ADHD continue to experience symptoms into adulthood.2 At this time, they are at risk for developing other psychological disorders in an effort to cope with their long-fought attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder symptoms.[4] In fact, up to 80 percent of adults with ADHD develop a second disorder, such as: substance abuse disorder, eating disorder, depressive disorder, and anxiety disorder.4

These disorders can ultimately complicate the management of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, as well as the treatment tracks of the co-occurring disorder.4 Early recognition is critical and treatment plans must be aggressive.4


[1] Wullfson, R. (2013, March 4). Childhood ADHD leads to adult psychiatric disorders . eMaxHealth. Retrieved March 12, 2013, from http://www.emaxhealth.com/11306/childhood-adhd-leads-adult-psychiatric-disorders

[2] Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). (2013, February 28). NIMH. Retrieved March 12, 2013, from http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/attention-deficit-hyperactivity-disorder/complete-index.shtml

[3] Mental Illnesses: Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. (n.d.). NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness . Retrieved March 12, 2013, from http://www.nami.org/Template.cfm?Section=By_Illness&Template=/TaggedPage/TaggedPageDisplay.cfm&TPLID=54&ContentID=23047

[4] Co-occurring Conditions Associated with ADHD. (n.d.). Chesapeake ADHD Center. Retrieved March 12, 2013, from http://chesapeakeadd.com/adhd-articles/co-occurring-conditions-associated-with-adhd/

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