What risks increase with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) during adolescence and adulthood?

Updated: Oct 01, 2019
  • Author: Stephen Soreff, MD; Chief Editor: Glen L Xiong, MD  more...
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Childhood ADHD may confer a higher risk of diagnosis with conduct disorders and substance abuse into adolescence and adulthood. These may be primary coexisting disorders or disorders secondary to untreated or undertreated ADHD.

Klein and colleagues looked at 135 male youths with ADHD free of a conduct disorder and another group of 135 males without ADHD in a 33-year longitudinal study. The youths with ADHD did not have increased anxiety or mood disorders in adulthood, but they did have more divorces; higher rates of antisocial personality disorder, substance use disorders, and ongoing ADHD; and worse educational, occupational, economic, and social outcomes. The authors concluded that beginning in adolescence, ADHD predicts significant disadvantages that last well into adulthood. Extended monitoring and treatment of ADHD remains an important aspect of care. [60]

Most children with ADHD have relatively good psychiatric outcomes once they reach adulthood.

At least 15-20% continue to have full ADHD as adults, and as many as 65% may continue to have problematic symptoms of ADHD that interfere with full realization of academic or work potential.

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