Does childhood ADHD lead to a more difficult life as an adult?

Media attention is often directed at the rigors that children with ADHD must face, but it begs the question “what about adults?” Does childhood ADHD lead to a more difficult and stressful life as an adult?  The Journal Pediatrics will publish a new study this January that addresses this question.  However, as expected, there is no definitive answer.

The study included a sample of 551 children and spanned more than 30 years, following the children as they grew until an average age of 37.  The study shows a correlation between patients who had ADHD as teens and greater risks of stress, work problems, financial troubles, physical and mental health issues, such as anxiety during adulthood.

When you compare people without ADHD to people with ADHD (in their teens and adulthood), the affected group had 82% higher odds of having impaired physical health, were twice as likely to have another mental health problem, and more than three times as likely to have antisocial personality disorder.

It was also noted that those who continued to have ADHD as adults were 2.5 times more likely to have problems with work and high financial stress.  The study volunteers were asked fairly subjective health questions suchHelpful recommendations for people suffering from ADHD(1) as, “Do you seem to get sick a little easier than other people?” They were also asked questions about mental health like, “How much of the time have you been nervous,” and “Do you worry about losing your job because of your current financial situation?”

It makes sense that many common symptoms of ADHD would interfere with one’s ability to perform at the level required by adulthood.  It may also interfere with physical health, as it impacts the decision making needed to follow up on doctor appointments, nutrition, and proper exercise.

Does this mean you are doomed to poor mental / physical health if you were diagnosed with ADHD as a child?  Definitely not! Some people will outgrow ADHD, as the brain continues to develop through emerging adulthood (late 20’s) and becomes more balanced.  Others learn coping techniques that are helpful in school and work, allowing them to focus and achieve success.

One important point to note is that the study originated in the 70’s and that views on mental health as well as medical science has changed.  Children today have more clinically effective treatment programs available, such as brain wave biofeedback, known as neurofeedback and neurotherapy.  There are more alternative medication options available today, including fish oils, nutritional supplements and vitamins.  Also, educational accommodations are becoming available that can have impacts on learning, particularly in higher education.

While this study did find an association between ADHD in adulthood and these problems, it did not prove a cause-and-effect relationship; correlation does not mean causation! Experts agree on one thing though, that it is important for parents to be attuned to their children and get them evaluated immediately if a problem is suspected.

If you are a child or an adult that struggles with ADHD, consider all the treatment options that are available.  Most importantly, set yourself up for success.  Get organized, learn to manage your time effectively, make priorities, create lists, and limit the interruptions you have every day.  Remember the brain is not set up to multi-task; it works best when it focuses on one purpose and goal at a time.

There are many systems and apps available to help you do this,  it can be confusing.  We wanted to make that easy for you and have listed our top three picks below that can be found by clicking here,  If you find other apps that you prefer, please share them with us, and post them on our Facebook for others to try.

#1 Evernote – Makes it easy to remember things big and small using your computer, your phone, and the Web.  Use it to capture your thoughts, ideas, inspiration, and things to remember.  It is easy to use, great graphics, very helpful and what a bang for your buck – FREE.

#2 Top Three – Changes the way you manage your priorities.  It makes you decide what things are most important, and helps you get them done.  Each day you get three new slots to fill, not ten.  By limiting priorities to just three things each day, and then being able to review history, you can work on being effective one step at a time.  A great bargain for 99 cents.

#3 White Noise – Provides ambient sounds of the environment.  Includes high-quality looping noises such as ocean waves, crickets chirping at night, and the soothing sound of rainfall.  For $1.99 this is a great way to drown out the noises of the day and limit those deadly interruptions.

We wish you a focused, organized, and productive 2013!