ADHD Home > Adult ADHD

ADHD in adults is a much more elaborate disorder than ADHD in children. The symptoms in adults are more than simply having trouble paying attention or controlling impulses. The problem lies in an underdeveloped ability to perform tasks and to know when to get them done. In many cases, treatment with medications and behavioral therapy can help improve the symptoms in adults.

What Is Adult ADHD?

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a highly publicized childhood disorder that affects approximately 3 to 5 percent of all children.
The number of people with adult ADHD is unknown, and medical experts continue to debate whether children can expect to outgrow the symptoms of ADHD by the time they reach adulthood. Some studies have shown a significant decline in symptoms as a person ages. Others estimate that between 30 and 70 percent of children with ADHD will continue to have symptoms into adulthood.
In adults, ADHD is a much more elaborate disorder than in children. It's more than a lack of paying attention and controlling impulses; the problem is developing self-regulation. This self-control affects an adult's ability not just to perform tasks, but to determine when they need to be done. You don't expect four- or five-year-olds to have a sense of time and organization, but adults need goal-directed behavior -- they need help in planning for the future and remembering things that have to get done.

Causes of Adult ADHD

The exact cause or causes of adult ADHD are not known. The disorder was once looked upon as a discipline and behavioral problem resulting from bad parenting. Some suggested that the condition was caused by:
  • High sugar intake
  • Food additives
  • Excessive TV viewing
  • Family problems.
However, none of these explanations are supported by scientific evidence.
Most scientists agree that ADHD is a biologically based disorder of the nervous system. Brain imaging research using a technique called magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) has shown that differences exist between the brains of children with and without ADHD, but the exact mechanism of brain function causing the ADHD symptoms is unknown. Scientists caution that MRIs used in studies are research tools and cannot be used to diagnose ADHD in a specific person.
Recently published research suggests that ADHD tends to run in families. In these studies, children with ADHD have, on average, at least one close relative with the disorder. Over the years, other theories have suggested that exposure to lead in the environment, premature birth, birth trauma, and brain injury may lead to the development of ADHD.
Some studies have shown a possible correlation between the use of cigarettes and alcohol during pregnancy and the risk of giving birth to a child with ADHD. For this and many other health reasons, women who are pregnant should avoid both cigarette and alcohol use.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
List of references (click here):
Other Articles in This eMedTV Presentation

Topics & Medications


Related Channels

eMedTV Links
Copyright © 2006-2020 Clinaero, Inc.

eMedTV serves only as an informational resource. This site does not dispense medical advice or advice of any kind. Site users seeking medical advice about their specific situation should consult with their own physician. Click Terms of Use for more information.

This site complies with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information:
verify here.