The online newsletter posted “Adult-Onset ADHD May Not Exist, Study Suggests,” on 10-23-17. This article reviews a study recently published in the American Journal of Psychiatry which found that more than 80% of people who have been diagnosed with ADHD in adulthood are actually unlikely to truly have the disorder.

The article reviews research which finds about two thirds of children accurately diagnosed with ADHD will continue to have symptoms into adulthood. The research found, however, that most people are diagnosed with ADHD later in life probably do not actually have the condition, and raises questions about whether it is truly possible to have adult-onset ADHD. The researchers based on a longitudinal analysis of 239 individuals, all of whom were established to been free of ADHD during childhood. The research is very thorough, assessing the participants every two years between the ages of 10 and 25. The findings: for over 80% of the participants who began to display ADHD symptoms in adulthood, there symptoms could’ve been explained by other factors such as heavy marijuana use, psychological trauma, and all of these conditions can affect cognitive functioning, and can result in symptoms that mimic ADHD such as impaired focus and depressive symptoms that affect concentration. The authors of the original study concluded, “false positive late-onset ADHD cases are common without careful assessment. Clinicians should carefully assess impairment, psychiatric history, and substance use before treating potential late-onset cases.”

MHConcierge’s take: different mental health conditions will usually have different solutions, and it is important to be using the right treatment, at the right time, for the symptoms. Research like this can help sort out the best treatment options.

This article is available for free online.

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