Is There a Difference Between Adult ADHD and Child ADHD?

The first thing to understand about Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is that it is a neurobiological condition. After depression, ADHD is the second most common mental health disorder in adults, affecting about 5% of the United States population.

Interestingly, approximately 60% of children who are diagnosed with ADHD continue to have the disorder as adults, so it is typically not a disorder that just goes away over time. With much research having been conducted over the past several years, scientists now believe that ADHD is largely a genetic condition. It is estimated that as many as 85% of people who have this disorder inherited it from one or both parents.

Understanding the Symptoms

The symptoms are actually not that different between childhood ADHD and adult ADHD.




These are the three dominant symptoms that are present in both children and adults with ADHD, but the symptoms do not generally manifest themselves in quite the same way with adults.

With adults, inattentiveness actually becomes the biggest issue. It becomes a more dominant symptom than it is with children, particularly for women. Hyperactivity is a symptom that is often felt by adults with ADHD, but the difference between this symptom in adults versus children is that adults are not as likely to actually act on the feeling. Whereas children may be practically bouncing off the walls when they are feeling hyperactive, adults realize that this type of behavior is unacceptable for them, particularly when they are in the workplace or around others.

Diagnosing ADHD

The criteria are essentially the same for diagnosing adults and children with this disorder. In diagnosing adults accurately with ADHD, health care professionals have to determine the presence of four specific elements.

It must be determined that your symptoms actually stem from ADHD and not some other, possibly temporary problem.

You must have at least six out of nine hyperactivity or impulsive symptoms, as well as six out of nine inattentive symptoms that health care professionals look for.

You have to actually be suffering from impairment due to your symptoms. In other words, if you are consistently under-performing or engaging in impulsive activities at work, at home, or even socially, then you will be far more likely to be positively diagnosed with ADHD. If you are not really suffering from symptoms that are impacting your daily life, your diagnosis would likely be related to some other type of issue.

Lastly, your health care practitioner will ask you extensive questions about your childhood in order to determine if you have ADHD. As previously mentioned, ADHD begins in childhood; it is not a condition that simply manifests itself in adults without a prior history of the disorder.

Even if you were never officially diagnosed as a child, you might still be diagnosed with ADHD as an adult. It is quite common for the symptoms of this disorder to be misdiagnosed as something else altogether, even in childhood. If you routinely suffer from any of the symptoms described in this article and you are concerned that you might have ADHD, consult with your doctor for a complete evaluation. Remember to do more research on this subject and learn what it is truly about, then decide if you or the person you love in your life may need testing.