Latest Research Shows Growing Out of ADHD is Unlikely

August 29, 2021

Earlier Estimates Showed 50% Remission in Adulthood, New Rate Indicates 10%

ADHD is the most common childhood mental disorder. The newest estimates report that 9.6% of children ages 3 to 17 have been diagnosed with the condition. Until recently, ADHD was viewed as a condition that vanishes in about half of those who received diagnoses. However, new research from the University of Washington School of Medicine calls that earlier finding into question. A recent study, published in the American Journal of Psychiatry, demonstrated that only 10% of people actually grow out of ADHD. This paper also reported that the other 90% will struggle with at least mild symptoms throughout adulthood, even if they experience symptom-free periods. The study’s authors view ADHD as an intermittent disorder with symptoms that shift and fluctuate depending on life circumstances. For instance, many children with ADHD may appear to be symptom-free at age 18, while in high school and  living at home. However, when those same teens go away to college, their ADHD behaviors may come back due to anxiety that sometimes accompanies a change in environment. The team also points out that experts have long recognized that stress and poor sleep can aggravate ADHD symptoms. For their future work, these researchers hope to hone in on potential triggers and possible supports for people with ADHD. Their current paper provides the latest findings from the Multimodal Treatment of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Study (MTA), a federally funded project. The MTA started in 1998 and studied approximately 600 children ages 7 to 9 until age 25 at eight different sites around the country. 

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