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Mental Health

Studies Show ADHD Persists into Adulthood, Causes Cognitive Issues

— March 7, 2023

When attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder goes untreated, adults have a hard time functioning.

Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) affects millions of people around the world, and it is being diagnosed today more so than it ever was in the past. Many associate this with the massive influx in stimuli that the brain is exposed in this digital age. Others believe that certain foods impact symptoms. Science has proven that there is a genetic component to the disorder, which can cause deficits in social-emotional functioning. With advancements in medicine, there is a strong chance that the increase in diagnosis is also tied to the current focus on mental health de-stigmatization and simply having more knowledge about the disorder than in years prior. In any case, researchers theorize that ADHD persists in adults and often goes untreated.

A new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) has shed light on a hidden epidemic of ADHD in adults. The study found that ADHD is not just a childhood disorder that individuals outgrow but one that persists throughout the lifetime and can have serious consequences. The persistence of ADHD into adulthood can significantly impact an individual’s quality of life, daily functioning, and relationships if left untreated. The study highlights the importance of early intervention and ongoing support for individuals living with ADHD, as well as the need for a better understanding, diagnosis, and treatment in adults.

The study found that adults with ADHD are “four times” more likely to have co-occurring mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression and that the prevalence of ADHD in adults is estimated to be around “4.4%.” The difficulties in daily functioning faced by those with untreated ADHD can manifest in poor job performance, strained relationships, and even legal troubles.

Studies Show ADHD Persists into Adulthood, Causes Cognitive Issues
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

Symptoms of untreated ADHD can include attention difficulties, hyperactivity, impulsiveness, disorganized thoughts, struggling with completing tasks, forgetfulness and other thoughts and behaviors that impede functioning and complicate social interactions. There are three distinct presentations of the disorder which a licensed mental health professional can accurately observe and diagnose.

The good news is that ADHD is highly treatable, and symptoms are well-maintained when treated properly. Current options for ADHD management include medications such as stimulants and non-stimulants, as well as behavioral therapy and counseling. There is an “ADHD” diet that many sufferers swear by as well, and because the disorder is caused in part by insufficient dopamine, engaging in physical activity can help by increasing this feel-good brain hormone and, thus, regulating symptoms.

The study also emphasizes the importance of addressing the co-occurring mental health conditions when ADHD persists into adulthood. This can be done through therapy, medication, and lifestyle changes as well. As a result of the research, it is evident that increased awareness and understanding of ADHD among healthcare professionals is needed so that they can provide accurate diagnoses and appropriate treatment options while normalizing the fact that adults can and should seek treatment. Once a plan has been put into place and followed by those who notice symptoms, the results can be night and day.


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