Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) normally does not get worse with age in cases person knows how to manage their symptoms and has a proper plan of dealing with them.
Even though ADHD has been globally recognized in the last couple of decades, there is still very less research on how aging impacts this condition. Some of the experts in the field acknowledge that ADHD symptoms can get more problematic to manage in older people. However, there is no direct link between ADHD and aging – naturally, a lot of people become less attentive and more forgetful with age.
In fact, ADHD can even improve with age if managed properly. We will talk about how to manage ADHD in adults a bit later in the article.
What Age Group Does ADHD Affect The Most?
According to the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 2014 & 2018, in children:
- The percentage of children diagnosed with ADHD increases with age – 2.4% of children aged 2 to 5 years old, and 9.6% of children aged 6 to 11 years old have been diagnosed with ADHD.
- Ages 13 to 14: 8.8%
- Ages 15 to 16: 8.6%
- Ages 17 to 18: 9%
According to Harvard Medical School, ADHD prevalence among adults was 4.4% in the US (2001-2003). The following figures are the estimated percentage of adults with ADHD:
- Ages 18 to 24: 4.5%
- Ages 25 to 34: 3.8%
- Ages 35 to 44: 4.6%
At What Age Does ADHD Peak?
The symptoms of ADHD are typically most severe at ages from 7 to 8 in children. The symptoms tend to decline after this age.
Related: Do You Have High-Functioning ADHD?
Does ADHD get worse with age: Managing ADHD in adulthood
Adults with ADHD find themselves often struggling due to symptoms that include impulsivity, inattention, distractability, and concentration problems. Some tasks, like filing taxes, can take a lot of time and require a lot of effort. Sometimes, people with ADHD have problems staying in the same job for long periods of time, which can result in frequent career shifts.
If this is something that resonates with your situation, try the following:
- Make sure that your current ADHD treatment plan is optimal – it can be counseling, medication, training, therapy, or a combination of treatments. Another very important factor here is support from your closest people – make sure that they know about your condition and understand your challenges.
- If there is a specific area you are struggling with, find an expert to help you with that. For instance, if you are struggling with managing your finances, consult with a financial planner. If you can’t make a career choice, perhaps reach out to a career counselor who can guide you and suggest some strategies to tackle the challenge.
Treating ADHD As An Adult
Typical treatments for ADHD include education, medication, counseling, and skills training, as we’ve mentioned above. A combination of these normally works the best for the majority of people suffering from ADHD. Check out the roundup of possible solutions for treating ADHD in adults below.
If you are considering taking medication for ADHD, you need to contact your doctor. He or she will be able to find the most suitable type of medication for optimal results. There are two types of ADHD medication that doctors usually prescribe people with ADHD based on the severity of their symptoms:
This group of drugs can include methylphenidate or amphetamine and are usually prescribed for managing ADHD symptoms in adults. They are used to bring brain chemicals called neurotransmitters into balance.
The other type of ADHD medication can include non-stimulating drugs, like atomoxetine, and some antidepressants. These drugs can be a great alternative for people that can’t take stimulants.
If you don’t want to take medication, counseling can be a very good option. Psychological counseling for ADHD can include education about the condition and learning the skills to cope with it. Counseling for ADHD can help people:
- Improve their problem-solving skills
- Develop higher self-esteem
- Significantly improve time management and organizational skills
- Cope with failures
- Learn how to reduce impulsive behaviour
- Improve relationships with friends, family, and colleagues
Common types of counseling for ADHD include:
This type of counseling teaches people how to deal with negative thinking patterns and helps them develop skills to manage their behaviour. CBT can be very helpful for dealing with personal and professional challenges, as well as address some of the other mental health conditions.
Marital Counseling and Family Therapy
This type of counseling is useful for people who are close to the ones that have ADHD. The courses can help to deal with stress and learning what they can do to help.
Lifestyle and home remedies
Since ADHD is a complex condition and the severity of symptoms varies from person to person, it is challenging to make a general recommendation on lifestyle changes. However, if you find yourself having a hard time with ADHD, some of the following ideas might help:
- Make a prioritized list of tasks that you need to accomplish every day. Do not put too many things on your list – 1 or 2 must-do tasks and 2-3 can-do tasks is enough to start with. See how you feel having accomplished all on your list by the end of the day.
- If you find it is hard for you to complete a certain task, try breaking it down into smaller bite-sized tasks. Checklists also help a lot.
- If keeping a simple list of tasks is not working for you, try writing your tasks down on sticky notes and stick them somewhere where you’d notice them – bathroom mirror, fridge, your table.
- If you can’t remember all the appointments you have, keep an electronic calendar with the function to send you reminders.
- Very often, people with ADHD can think of an idea and then forget it in some time. Try carrying a notebook with you or make a habit of making notes every time some idea comes to your mind.
- Develop a suitable daily routine for yourself that you can keep up with. Follow the routine consistently and adjust as you go.