Your son or daughter was just diagnosed with ADHD, or attention deficit
hyperactivity disorder. And as you sat there in the office, listening to the
doctor tick off the symptoms – the attention problems, the disorganization, the
fidgeting – you recognized yourself. Suddenly, you wonder: Could I have adult
You very well might. ADHD runs in families, and experts say that for any
child with ADHD, there’s a 30% to 40% chance that one of the parents has
Many children with ADHD have other conditions, such as anxiety, depression, and conduct disorder. They may be taking medications for that, as well as ADHD.
Doctors typically start patients on one medication at a time. They will then monitor your child to see how they respond to the medication and manage any side effects that may occur. Then they can add another medication if the first choice is not effective, or to address symptoms of another disorder.
After the other health problem is stable,...
But for many adults, the idea never occurs to them until their children get
It’s a common pattern, says David W. Goodman MD, assistant professor of
psychiatry at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. “I might treat a
16-year-old with ADHD,” Goodman tells WebMD. “The next thing you know, his
40-year-old father gets diagnosed, and then his 43-year-old uncle. ADHD becomes
part of the family tree.”
Since adult ADHD can have a profoundly negative impact on your life, it’s
important to get help, especially since you’re not the only person in the
family who has the condition. Here’s what you need to know.
ADHD in Children vs. Adults
If you think of ADHD as a childhood condition that kids grow out of, you’re
hardly alone. But you’re wrong.
While ADHD always starts in childhood – symptoms appear before age 7 – it
usually doesn’t end there. “Two out of three children with ADHD will continue
to have ADHD as adults,” says Lenard Adler MD, a professor of psychiatry and
director of the Adult ADHD Program at the New York University School of
Many adults with ADHD were never diagnosed as kids – their symptoms were
just missed. That’s especially common in girls, says Adler. Teachers and
parents are more likely to focus on the noisy, disruptive boys than the
Other people with undiagnosed adult ADHD were actually diagnosed as
kids. But back then, pediatricians told people they’d grow out of it, says
Goodman, who is also director of the Adult Attention Deficit Disorder Center of
Maryland in Baltimore. It may have seemed that way. A first grader with
ADHD who used to get in trouble for standing on his chair and shouting during
story time might seem a lot calmer by the time he gets to college. But in many
cases, the ADHD isn’t gone. The symptoms have changed.