Adult attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a mental health disorder that includes a combination of persistent problems, such as difficulty paying attention, hyperactivity and impulsive behavior. Adult ADHD can lead to unstable relationships, poor work or school performance, low self-esteem, and other problems.
Though it's called adult ADHD, symptoms start in early childhood and continue into adulthood. In some cases, ADHD is not recognized or diagnosed until the person is an adult. Adult ADHD symptoms may not be as clear as ADHD symptoms in children. In adults, hyperactivity may decrease, but struggles with impulsiveness, restlessness and difficulty paying attention may continue.
Treatment for adult ADHD is similar to treatment for childhood ADHD, though some ADHD medications approved for children are not approved for adult use. Adult ADHD treatment includes medications, psychological counseling (psychotherapy) and treatment for any mental health conditions that occur along with ADHD.
Aug. 15, 2017
- Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. In: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders DSM-5. 5th ed. Arlington, Va.: American Psychiatric Association; 2013. http://www.psychiatryonline.org. Accessed Jan. 18, 2016.
- Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). National Institute of Mental Health. http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/attention-deficit-hyperactivity-disorder-adhd/index.shtml. Accessed Jan. 7, 2016.
- Adult ADHD (attention-deficit/hyperactive disorder). Anxiety and Depression Association of America. http://www.adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/related-illnesses/other-related-conditions/adult-adhd. Accessed Jan. 18, 2016.
- Barbaresi WJ, et al. Mortality, ADHD, and psychosocial adversity in adults with childhood ADHD: A prospective study. Pediatrics. 2013;131:637.
- ADHD. National Alliance on Mental Illness. https://www.nami.org/Learn-More/Mental-Health-Conditions/ADHD/Overview. Accessed Jan. 5, 2016.
- Barbaresi WJ, et al. Comparing methods to determine persistence of childhood ADHD into adulthood: A prospective population-based study. Journal of Attention Disorders. In press. Accessed Jan. 27, 2016.
- Clarke PE. ADHD: Not just for kids. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. http://www.fda.gov/Drugs/ResourcesForYou/SpecialFeatures/ucm289089.htm. Accessed Jan. 18, 2016.
- Smith BL. Bringing life into focus. American Psychological Association. http://www.apa.org/monitor/2012/03/adult-adhd.aspx. Accessed Jan. 18, 2016.
- Bukstein O. Pharmacotherapy for adult attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Jan. 18, 2016.
- Solanto MV. Psychotherapy for adult ADHD. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Jan. 18, 2016.
- Bukstein O. Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in adults: Epidemiology, pathogenesis, clinical features, course, assessment, and diagnosis. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Jan. 18, 2016.
- Bueno VF, et al. Mindfulness meditation improves mood, quality of life, and attention in adults with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. BioMed Research International. http://www.hindawi.com/journals/bmri/2015/962857/. Accessed Jan. 18, 2016.
- Bhagia J (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. March 22, 2016.
- Philipsen A, et al. Effects of group psychotherapy, individual counseling, methylphenidate, and placebo in the treatment of adult attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder: A randomized clinical trial. JAMA Psychiatry. 2015;72:1199.
Adult attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)