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Can You Develop ADHD Later in Life?

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a chronic neurodevelopmental disorder that usually presents in childhood and continues into adulthood. However, sometimes people aren’t diagnosed with this condition until they are adults. Does this mean it’s possible to develop ADHD later in life, and is adult-onset ADHD real? In this blog, we’ll answer this question and explain some misconceptions about adult ADHD. Read on to learn more.

What Is Late-Onset ADHD?

Although ADHD is usually thought of as a condition that affects children, adults can have it as well. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is a chronic condition and usually persists into adulthood. But, it’s more than possible that a child with this condition might go undiagnosed, and the condition won’t be diagnosed until they are teenagers or adults. 

Because more adults are getting diagnosed with this condition, this has led to people studying the possibility of “late-onset ADHD.” For now, the evidence mostly points to these cases of adult ADHD being cases that weren’t diagnosed when they were children. It’s possible that the symptoms weren’t prominent enough when they were children, or they simply went unnoticed. This can especially be the case if someone’s ADHD doesn’t include hyperactivity as a symptom. Hyperactivity as a child is one of the easiest ways to spot ADHD, so if a child isn’t exhibiting these symptoms, the condition could go unnoticed for most of their lives.

Research on late-onset ADHD is limited but ongoing. While it’s not impossible that ADHD can develop later in life, it seems that this would be the exception and not the rule. Overall, if an adult is experiencing symptoms of this condition, it’s a good idea to seek a professional opinion regardless of when the symptoms might have started appearing.

ADHD Symptoms in Children vs. Adults

As mentioned, people typically associate ADHD with childhood rather than adulthood. This is especially because adult ADHD tends to be more subtle and often requires the adult to be self-aware of their symptoms enough to seek treatment. With that being said, let’s take a look at some of the commonalities and differences between child and adult Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder symptoms:

Children with ADHD may display the following symptoms:

  • Inattention - Difficulty paying attention or focusing. Children with this diagnosis may be easily distracted or forgetful.
  • Hyperactivity - Children with ADHD may find it hard to sit still. Hyperactivity can exhibit as restlessness, fidgeting, a tendency to talk excessively and excessive physical movement.
  • Impulsivity - Children with this condition may act without thinking, take more risks and generally exhibit more impulsive behavior. 

Compared to children, the symptoms of adult ADHD can be difficult to diagnose. This is especially the case if the symptoms overlap with other mental health disorders, such as anxiety and depression. Still, there are some telltale symptoms to be aware of.

Adults with ADHD may display the following symptoms:

  • Difficulty with organization and time management - Adults with ADHD may have trouble managing their time and their daily lives or work activities.
  • Hyperactivity and Impulsivity - Hyperactivity and impulsivity can also be prominent in adult ADHD, although they typically present in different ways. Adults with this condition may fidget, tap their feet, talk excessively and feel restless. They may also have issues with controlling their impulses, which may lead to issues like substance abuse.
  • Inattentiveness and forgetfulness - Adults with ADHD may have trouble paying attention or being mindful of routine tasks. These can lead to them having trouble focusing on work, missing appointments and deadlines, forgetting to take medication and more.

It’s worth noting that symptoms can vary by person, and not everyone will exhibit all the symptoms of ADHD. It’s also important to remember that this mental health disorder can have a significant impact on people’s daily lives. If you suspect you have ADHD based on the common symptoms, it’s best to speak to your healthcare provider and get a proper diagnosis.

Factors Contributing to Adult ADHD

The exact cause of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder remains uncertain, but current evidence points to it possibly being a combination of genetic or environmental factors. Here are some of the factors that may contribute to someone having it:

  • Genetics - If ADHD runs in your family, it’s possible that you’re at a greater risk of having it.
  • Brain injury or trauma - A brain injury or trauma may contribute to someone developing ADHD during their lifetime.
  • Birth factors - The CDC reports that certain birth factors, such as premature delivery and low birth weight, may be linked to developing ADHD.
  • Exposure to environmental risks - Exposure to lead and other harmful substances at a young age or during pregnancy may be a factor in developing ADHD. This also includes tobacco and alcohol use during pregnancy.

Regardless of the factors that contribute to this mental disorder, it’s important to speak with a healthcare professional if you feel like symptoms may be affecting your everyday life. Proper treatment and support can make a big difference in helping adults with ADHD live more fulfilling lives.

Myths and Misconceptions

Since ADHD is something that even experts are still studying and learning about, it’s no surprise that there are some common myths and misconceptions about this mental health condition among the general population. Let’s take a look at some of the most common myths and misconceptions and the real truth behind them.

Myth: Only children can have ADHD

Fact: ADHD is a condition that can persist into adulthood. Children can often go undiagnosed into adulthood, and some cases go undiagnosed completely.

Myth: Children will grow out of ADHD

Fact: While it’s possible that symptoms can lessen and even disappear by the time a child is an adult, that doesn’t mean this is the case for everyone. People can have ADHD throughout their life, and it can be helpful to seek treatment to help manage the symptoms.

Myth: ADHD is a Learning Disability

Fact: While ADHD symptoms can sometimes cause children to be distracted in a learning environment (or an adult in a work environment), it’s not considered a learning disability. In other words, it can make learning difficult, but if symptoms are managed, they can learn without difficulties. However, it is worth noting that many children with ADHD also have a learning disability independent of ADHD, which in tandem can make learning even harder.

Myth: Late-onset ADHD is common

Fact: There isn’t much research on late-onset ADHD at this time. Typically, this condition is diagnosed in children and can persist into adulthood. When an adult is diagnosed with ADHD, research suggests they likely had signs of it as a child.

Myth: ADHD is just an excuse for poor behavior

Fact: ADHD is a real neurodevelopmental disorder that can cause significant impairments in daily life. People with this mental health disorder may struggle with things like time management, organization and impulse control, but this isn't due to laziness or lack of effort.

Myth: Only hyperactive people have ADHD

Fact: While hyperactivity is one of the common symptoms associated with ADHD, it's not the only one. This misconception is likely one of the reasons boys get diagnosed more often than girls, as boys tend to display hyperactivity while girls with ADHD tend to display other symptoms.

Myth: Medication is the only treatment for ADHD

Fact: When medically appropriate, medication can be helpful for ADHD treatment. However, it’s not the only option, and it’s often not the first option. Therapy and lifestyle changes are also helpful for curbing symptoms and helping diagnosed individuals live more successful, fulfilling lives.

It’s best to be familiar with the myths and misconceptions surrounding ADHD, so you can make the right decisions for your own treatment. As we continue to learn more about Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, we could see more myths and misconceptions debunked or proven false in the future.

Getting Diagnosed

If you’re an adult and you suspect you may have ADHD, it’s important to seek a professional opinion. ADHD is a complex and nuanced disorder that can differ from person to person. To get properly diagnosed, a comprehensive evaluation is required. A primary care provider can help you with an initial screening to see if Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is the possible cause of your symptoms.

Following this screening, your primary care provider can provide a full evaluation. Your provider will ask questions about your medical history, do an examination, ask about your symptoms and determine if you’d be a good candidate for ADHD treatment. This evaluation will also help rule out other possible conditions that could be causing your symptoms.

If you are diagnosed with ADHD, the next step will be developing a comprehensive treatment plan with your primary care provider. If medically appropriate, this treatment plan may include medication. Other forms of treatment may include therapy, counseling, lifestyle changes and more. 

Getting a diagnosis and treatment plan can help alleviate ADHD symptoms and make them more manageable in everyday life. That’s why it’s important to seek professional help if you feel like your life is being affected by this condition. To make ADHD treatment even more accessible, you can seek diagnosis and treatment from a telehealth provider.

Talk to a Telehealth Provider Today

Going to the doctor to seek a diagnosis for ADHD can sometimes be intimidating. At best, it can be inconvenient as you try to get your appointment scheduled and have to travel to the clinic. Instead of spending time and energy getting an in-person appointment for ADHD help, you can now seek professional medical advice from primary care providers from the comfort of your home.

Telehealth providers such as Circle Medical offer all the same services as in-person care providers. Your primary care provider at Circle Medical can assess your condition and evaluate it to determine if you have ADHD. If diagnosed with this disorder, your Circle Medical provider can also put together a treatment plan and prescribe medication when medically appropriate.

Telehealth takes a lot of the guesswork and discomfort out of the diagnosis process. Here at Circle Medical, our board-certified primary care providers will ensure you feel comfortable, heard and informed throughout your appointment. If you’re ready to get started and determine if you’re a candidate for ADHD treatment, make your appointment with Circle Medical today

Get Treatment with Circle Medical

Circle Medical makes it as convenient as possible to get treatment from the comfort of your home. We offer same-day virtual appointments, so you can get started with care sooner. Through our app, you can easily attend your appointment via video from the comfort of your home or work.

If you’re a candidate for treatment, you can easily follow your treatment plan through our patient portal, schedule follow-up appointments and more. You can also track any prescriptions through our app. With in-app support, you can easily send in your questions at any time. Circle Medical is here to make the healthcare process more accessible, affordable, comfortable and transparent for everyone. Schedule your same-day appointment with Circle Medical today to meet with one of our primary care providers.

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