As ADHD diagnoses in children continue to rise year after year, many parents wonder about their child’s future with the condition. They wonder coping in school or at work, and if relationships will suffer because of the diagnosis. Many parents wonder, will my child have ADHD for the rest of their life, or will it be cured by adulthood?
Even as we continue to learn more about the condition, the answer to this question remains a bit murky.
ADHD used to be thought of as a childhood disorder – that a child with ADHD would outgrow their symptoms as they grew into adolescence and adulthood. Today, as teens and adults are regularly diagnosed with ADHD, we now know that this isn’t necessarily the case.
Why do some people with ADHD seem to outgrow it?
Still, it seems that some people who have ADHD as a child can grow to be adults who no longer feel impaired by its symptoms. Why is that?
As children with ADHD get older, their symptoms will oftentimes change. Kids with ADHD might be highly energetic, talk incessantly, or be unable to concentrate on anything for very long – even tasks they enjoy.
As a teenager, hyperactivity tends to improve, but time management and motivation may become problematic. Teens with ADHD tend to be able to hyperfocus on the things they enjoy, like video games or watching TV, and will frequently lose track of time spent doing these things.
Adults with ADHD, on the other hand, can be messy or have trouble managing their finances. They may have a hard time paying attention during a work meeting, lose their keys or debit card frequently, or struggle to finish tasks. While these symptoms can cause problems in adult life, they contrast noticeably from the symptoms found in childhood.
People who have ADHD from childhood to adulthood will often find that their treatment plan will evolve along with their symptoms. Some adults may notice that reducing their medication helps them stay focused during the day and leaves them able to sleep well at night. Other adults find that lifestyle changes – like daily exercise and a healthy diet – are now sufficient in managing their symptoms. So, while these people still do have ADHD, they may feel like their symptoms are more manageable in adulthood.
Is it possible for ADHD to be cured?
Conversely, there are still some cases where children with ADHD seem to no longer have symptoms at all in adulthood. Experts estimate that this is the case for roughly a third of children diagnosed with ADHD. They also found that children who engage in a treatment plan at a younger age are more likely to have fewer ADHD symptoms as adults.
So, while a third of kids will outgrow their ADHD, roughly two-thirds will carry their symptoms with them into adulthood. Many experts advise placing an emphasis on finding a treatment plan in childhood that works well for the whole family. Not only will this help improve the child’s likelihood of having less severe symptoms throughout their life, it will also help lessen the chance of the child developing a coexisting condition like depression or anxiety later in life.
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